Researchers in the life sciences usually think of the nervous system as a large electro-chemical network where electrons and synapses regulate everything. New evidence, including that photons are produced within neurons, has been coming out suggesting that light may also play an important role in neural regulation. A team of Iranian scientists suggests that besides chemical and electric signaling in the brain, “signal propagation takes place in the form of biophoton production.”
To begin with, Rahnama and co point out that neurons contain many light sensitive molecules, such as porphyrin rings, flavinic, pyridinic rings, lipid chromophores and aromatic amino acids. In particular, mitochondria, the machines inside cells which produce energy, contain several prominent chromophores.
The presence of light sensitive molecules makes it hard to imagine how they might not be not influenced by biophotons.
But photons would also be absorbed by other stuff in the cell, liquids, membranes etc, and this ought to make cells opaque. So Rhanama and co hypothesise that microtubules can act as wave guides, channeling light from one part of a cell to another.
Microtubules are the internal scaffolding inside cells, providing structural support but also creating highways along which molecular machines transport freight around the cell. They’re extraordinary things. Could it be that they also work like optical fibres?
More from Physics arXiv Blog: The Puzzling Role Of Biophotons In The Brain…
Article in arXiv Biological Physics: Emission of Biophotons and Neural Activity of the Brain