My question is can we change the direction of a neurological signal? When a neurological signal is generated it goes to the brain. Along the way it passes synapses. Can we make it change it's pathway to go through another neurone instead of the neurone it was going to ?

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    $\begingroup$ With an eye to doing what with the end result? Theoretically it's possible, but in practicality, it would be extremely complicated (dealing with axon collaterals and convergence/redundancy in higher centers). $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Jul 10, 2015 at 22:39
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    $\begingroup$ When you write "can we"--who is "we"? A neuroscientist administering drugs to an animal? A neuroscientist using some other technology on an animal? A person exerting their will to influence the activities of the brain? I'm trying to understand what you are imagining happening, and who is involved, when this alternate routing occurs. $\endgroup$
    – Chelonian
    Jul 10, 2015 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ And do you mean change it on the fly, or permanently? I am inclined to vote for closure when this question is not clarified and/or specified. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jul 11, 2015 at 4:31
  • $\begingroup$ OK jonsca you said it theoretically can be done. Can you show me a refrence that describes it with details? $\endgroup$
    – Pedram
    Jul 11, 2015 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


"Neurological signal", or as I would put it, action potential, or activity propagation can be modeled as current in an electrical circuit. Trick is that such a circuit contains a bunch of highly regulated and non-linear and non-static elements. Imaging bunch of potentiometers (variable resistances) in your circuit. And all of them behave depending on something else in the system. So certainly currents will go somewhere, but level of control and complexity is phenomenal.

An example that should let you appreciate possibility of rerouting is simple Pavlovian conditioning. Neutral stimulus (bell) that has no evident connection to stomach, after conditioning elicits response there. Even though circuitry is very complicated and signal propagation is hard to investigate, this is an evidence that changing path of signals is very possible in some way. (Of course, conditioning require changes in higher-than-stomach systems, some intermediate levels).

On more practical note, we can readout neuronal activity in region A (of brain, muscle or else) and rely it via electrical stimulation somewhere in brain or muscle or gland. Both parts of this are available technology. As of drugs, some people report "seeing" sounds while intoxicated, this might be an example of such temporary effects.

  • $\begingroup$ How can neural activity being relayed to a muscle or gland? This seems to be at the heart of the question and references are needed. Further, psychotropic drugs alter brain activity not by changing connectivity but by changing synaptic activities within existing connections afaik. Here too references are needed to prove otherwise. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jul 11, 2015 at 4:43
  • $\begingroup$ Also, a potentiometer although having a resistance, is a recording device and it's neural representation is unknown to me. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jul 11, 2015 at 4:55
  • $\begingroup$ potentiometer is variable resistance, it can be analog or digital. Neural activity drives muscle through NMJ. You can readout muscle activity through afferent cells. I am precisely not talking about connectivity, but about changing final route. You have roads around, but take different route every day, based on traffic. In neurosystem you can do similar things $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2015 at 7:51

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