The Brain

The brain is three pounds of meat that lives in the skull and the way it behaves shapes us in ways many of us have little conception of.

We’re all familiar with the nature vs nurture concept of behavioural development. Whether we happen to believe in the idea, or which camp a person happens to fall into, it not relevant; we are familiar with it and certain aspects of the idea tends to ring true for all of us.

What is often not thought of is the actual biology of the brain and how the way it is constructed effects our development.

Memories are stored chemically on the brainstem in adults, but as a child it is completely different. In the child’s formative years memories are stored within the brain itself. They help form the organ itself as it grows. This is perhaps the reason why amnesiacs forget many things but they rarely forget how to speak or walk.

That’s an over simplification of course, but we find that when talking about the brain and its behaviour everything becomes an over simplification. When it’s noted that we are speaking of an organ that contains over 50 billion neurons with 1000 trillion synaptic connections it very quickly becomes clear that this has to be the case.

If we think on the human eye and its correlating brain functions we begin to see a small representation of this complexity. It is well known that the left hand side of the body is controlled by the right hand side of the brain (and vice versa) but what is lesser known is that this does not hold entirely true with the eye.

The left hand side of each eye is controlled by the opposite portion of brain, which is to say that the left hand vision of both left and right eyes are “seen” by the right side of the brain. This results in the whole right hand side of our field of vision being processed by our left brain and our left vision by the right.

Experiments have been shown that, because of where we “think” within the brain or where certain functions “live” we can see things subtly differently in relation to where they are within our field of vision.

For instance It appears that people we see in our left field of vision we see as more attractive to us than those in our right.

The eye and brain are also connected in other, even more interesting ways; it seems that often a person’s eye will movie in relation to their brain activity.

The creative portion of the brain is in the upper right; the place where we access memory is in the lower left, so when someone is questioned their “body language” can be read to determine which portion of the brain they are accessing by watching their eye movement.

A person who glances to their upper right would be accessing their creative centres, effectively lying, whereas someone legitimately remembering something would glance to their lower left.

A great deal of what we term “body language” is in fact the body’s unconscious reactions to brain activity.

This fact, in itself, goes someway to extinguishing what has become known as the “10% Myth”, in which people believe humans only use between five and twenty percent of their brains. This implies that brain usage is limited to particular areas and that over 80 percent of the brain is laid dormant.

The truth is that in any given day a person will use the whole of their brain, but at any given time only ten percent may be in use. This is to say that as you read this article something like ten percent of the neurons in your brain are firing electrons, but this is not to say that those ten percent will be the only ones that ever will fire.

The “10% Myth” continues to adhere despite logic to the contrary mainly because we like the mystery it implies, the notion that over 80 percent of our minds is a mystery to be unlocked is a beguiling one.

The truth is actually much more mysterious.

It might seem obvious that more intelligent people have more active brains and less intelligent people’s brain contain less activity; but this is not the case at all. It’s been quite clearly proved that actual brain activity has little to do with its ability to process ideas and this have led to theories concerning intelligence being linked to more efficient brain “wiring”.

So it’s clear that even if the “10% Myth” was true that it would not in any way improve a person’s ability if the remaining 90% was awakened.

More brain activity simply doesn’t lead to better brain use, so the reality of the brains construction leads to far more mysterious truths than the “10% Myth” does.

Because of the nature of memories, and specifically the way in childhood they are incorporated into the brains physiology it follows that each brain does not follow absolute patterns of growth. It must be concluded that each individual brain therefore is unique in pattern and therefore the “wiring” of each brain is also unique, and although there may be similarities in construction any intricacies would be different.

When it is realised that what makes us truly unique individuals with all our personal strengths and inner demons is produced from three pounds of gelatinous meat within our heads it must be considered that either something else is at work, or that the human brain is even more complex than we currently imagine.

To think that everyone from Einstein to The Cheeky Girls all possess and are possessed by the same basic organ that controls and is controlled by each individual is an amazing thought. When we realise that studies show that it is quite possible that one of The Cheeky Girls brain activity might be more than Einstein’s we realise that the human brain quite often defies what we think of as logic.

As a neural network alone the brain defies most attempts of understanding it, but when we take this a step further to include the mind it houses things get even more labyrinthine, and it occurs that the mind is not simply an “operating system” within the brains “mainframe”. The two elements are linked, perhaps irrevocably, in an infinitely complex pattern. The mind both controls and is controlled by the brain, but the evolution of a persons mind also builds the very neural network in which it inhabits.

So it becomes clear that the “10% Myth” actually lessens the complexity and mystery that the human mind holds, and it is only possible to begin seeing what potential it contains by brushing aside such notions in an attempt to glimpse its reality.

The question remains, if neural activity does not denote intelligence then what does?

One thought on “The Brain”

  1. Wow, fascinating read. If intelligence is down to more efficient wiring, then what about wisdom i.e. the application of knowledge and decision making in a practical scenario? I guess genetics dictate how the wiring is wired, that and nurture. Personally, I think nature and nurture have an equal play in this to start with and then nurture takes over as an individual grows up. Actually though, when does nuture end and self-improvement begin?

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