Myelination: what it is and how it affects the nervous system

Neurons are essential for our brains to function, which means they are essential for life itself. Thanks to them, we can carry out all the activities that we propose to do, which is why our body is responsible for protecting them properly.

In this article we will talk about the process known as myelination one of the most important aspects of the life of neurons. We will see what it consists of, what are its characteristics and the effect it has on neurons and the nervous system.

    What is myelination?

    The process of myelination involves coating the axons (parts of neurons in the shape of an elongated cylinder) with a substance called myelin or myelin sheath, Which is responsible for providing specific protection to these parts of the neuron.

    This coating process begins very early, just in the second trimester of gestation, and lasts a lifetime. It is important that you go through it correctly than the nerve stimuli that our brain sends through neurons circulate properly.

    The myelin sheath is a substance that it performs insulating functions in the neuronal axon. This element is of organic origin and its state is fatty properties (lipids).

    Axons where there is no myelin coating (myelinated) have a lesser ability to conduct electrical phenomena sent by the brain along the entire central nervous system.

      Features of this process of the nervous system

      The coating of neural extensions is fundamentally a natural protective mechanism that our nervous system must preserve and facilitate the electrical impulses that travel through neurons, responsible for mental processes in all categories.

      Neurons don’t just process higher mental functions, But also of all the reactions that we humans have, to any stimulus, whether internal or external.

      Moreover, it is also an indispensable process for learning, especially in the early stages where neurons interconnect with each other, to create what are called neural batteries.

      Contrary to the beliefs of many people, the number of neurons we have is not the most influential in our learning, but how they connect to each other. If we have neurons that are not able to establish a good synapse between them, then it will be very difficult for the knowledge to solidify.

      But if, on the other hand, the synapse is good, all the information we get from the environment around us will be internalized in the best possible way by our higher mental processes. Much of this happens through myelination.

      its effects

      As mentioned above, the myelin sheath serves to drive nerve impulses at the right speed, and in addition this avoids the risk that they stop in the axons before reaching their destination.

      In the event that the axons are not properly covered by myelin by the process of myelination, either because the process was not successful or because the substance has deteriorated, then central nervous system dysfunction may occur, Depending on the area where the myelinated neuronal axon is located.

      Peripheral sensitivity may be lost or a central sensitization process may occur, which consists of a disproportionate operation of the sensations we receive, especially at the level of the pain threshold, which is greatly diminished (while other sensations, which in general should not represent a painful stimulus to the body, cause a fictitious sensation of pain), among other alterations in perception, where synesthesia and agnosia are found.

      Tips for preserving our neurons

      Food is essential for neurons, and for the coating process to occur and be properly maintained in the axons of these, during the early stages of children’s development we need to make sure that they receive adequate nutrition.

      Learning new things generates neural batteries which get stronger and stronger if we keep practicing what we have learned, it is a good way to preserve and keep our brain neurons functioning.

      Finally, there is the dream. It is important to have good sleep habits so that our brains receive a restful rest and thus the neurons have a longer and more efficient life.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Arroyo, EJ et al. (2000). On the molecular architecture of myelinated fibers. Histochemistry and cell biology. 113 (1): 1-18.
      • Raine CS (1999). “Characteristics of Neurology”. To Siegel GJ, Agranoff BW, Albers RW, Fisher SK, Uhler MD. Basic neurochemistry: molecular, cellular and medical aspects (6th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven.

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