I'm curios to know how many times neurons send signals in one second when the brain is highly active (Highly active meaning during difficult problem solving, or any task that might bring the brain to it's higher volume of activity).

When the mind is highly active, roughly how many neurons become excited in one second? The question might also be posed as: "How many action potentials might "occur" in the brain over the course of one second during any form of complex mental process?"

Answers accurate to whatever accuracy we're currently capable of would suit my interests.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "happen"? Synapses can be strengthened by ongoing activity (or weakened by a lack of it), but they don't really appear out of nowhere on that timecourse. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 10:38
  • $\begingroup$ @jonsca It was my understanding that an action potential sent over the axon to connected neuron dendrites had a chance to either synapse or not depending on the strength of that ongoing activity. $\endgroup$
    – J.Todd
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ I understand my blunder after some research. I'm still curious about what I intended to ask, so I've fixed my question. $\endgroup$
    – J.Todd
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ Great question. My first assumption is "nobody knows", but a) I'm no expert, and b) you might be able to get somewhere by using 2-photon microscopy data (or something else that measures neural activity in vivo) and making some inferences. See, eg cshprotocols.cshlp.org/content/2014/7/pdb.top081810.abstract $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ Depends on what you mean by active mind. High resolution FMRI can enable you to approximate how many or which (bunch of) neurons are getting activated. $\endgroup$
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 5:05


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