The brain is made up of an inconceivable number of cells
An “enchanted loom” is how Charles Sherrington described the interconnected net of cells that make up our three-pound control centre. Indeed there is something almost magical in the notion that all our mental processes from perception, to memory to consciousness itself, can be described entirely by cellular activity in the brain.
The basic functional unit of the brain is the neuron, a special cell that sends electrochemical signals to other neurons (across a “synaptic gap”) and thereby creates those patterns that make up what we think of as the mind.
The complexity of the task requires a fairly inconceivable 100 billion neurons, interconnected via trillions of synapses. A single firing neutron might communicate to thousands of others in a single moment. No computer comes close to the complexity of these communicating bits of organic matter.
What’s more, for each neuron there are 10 to 15 glial cells providing structural support, protection, resources and more.
Alcohol is a drug that goes to the brain, interfering with the cells, disrupting the communication. That is why after a few drinks we have difficulty thinking, talking, walking, eating. The more alcohol, the more out of control.
Why do we consciously interfere with the workings of this incredible machine?
If we knew how much damage we were doing to our brain, would we drink as much?
Would we drink at all?