I am a very lousy reader. Some might join me in saying, lousy writer too..:)..I can never read a book, especially story book. I tried it several times…But, it just doesnt work. I can read, may be 20-30 pages at a time. So, reading a full book is almost an eternity for me. Recently, I mustered all my energy to read this book which I bought almost 3-4 years before. The book is titled “The Undiscovered Mind” by John Horgan. I bought the book since the title and cover was attractive and it was available for a reasonable price and also that I have some inclination in understanding brain. I havent completely read the book. But, I read some interesting things that I thought were worth sharing…
The book is all about how neuroscience is lagging behind and where is it heading towards. The author has interviewed some of the eminent scientists in the world to make it more informative. It makes up for a great read if you are interested in the topic. There are some key problems facing neuroscience that still remains unanswered. One such thing is the controller.. People have done research to find out how each section of the brain is associated with a particular activity. The left brain is associated with logical/analytical/objective thinking whereas the right brain is associated more with random/intuitive /holistic or more subjective thinking and in synthesizing things in entirety. There are also researches which points to specific sections of brain dealing with a specific activity. The million dollar question is this. If brain power is spread across the whole gamut of different regions, how does human brain work in unison. What/Where is the controller ? No one has answer to this question. One possible theory is that, brain has a portion called the “working memory”. It is almost like RAM (random access memory) and is volatile. So, one can view it as a scratch pad where all temporary information reside. This gives the integrity of thought and continuity of context. When you start speaking, you should constantly and cumulatively remember the context and the content that you are talking. If not, you will have a serious discontinuity. Apparently, having less of the “working memory” leads to neurological problems. This, to some extent seems to bridge the gap of the controller. But, it is not complete.
Another thing that was quite interesting was about emotions. There is no logical way to explain the concept of emotions and consciousness using brain. They are considered as random noise…:)… Again here, the million dollar question is about the distinction of mind and body and how are they interrelated. Interesting discoveries have been made as a byproduct of research, though it hasnt lead to the understanding of the “big picture”. For example, research has lead to how certain portions of the brain respond to chemicals. In other words, some of our regular tasks, in turn produce/consume certain chemicals which in turn is produced/consumed by other portions of the body. So, adding those chemicals artificially into the system to simulate such characteristics have been studied. Most of the anti-depressant medicines are built around that. In the future, we will see medicines which can, “really” make a person smarter. Already, different kinds of medications that fix certain neurological abnormalities have been invented. But they all seem to have long-term side effects.
In essence, there is currently no unified theory to explain the operation of brain and it is still at a very very primitive stage. I will keep you posted as I read more. My guess is that, I will keep posting for eternity…:)