Undiscovered Mind…

17 Nov

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…:)


Posted by on November 17, 2005 in From AM-KICKING blog


7 responses to “Undiscovered Mind…

  1. sdpal

    November 17, 2005 at 11:29 pm

    Its really difficult for me (us?) to beleive that you dont like to read books. I first thought, you meant story books alone. But, since you had to muster all your energy to read the book about brain.. Im surprised!

  2. Mindframes

    November 17, 2005 at 11:55 pm

    I like to read books…But, I dont complete reading a full book..:).. I like to read articles. Because, they dont go beyond a couple of pages… One of the reasons why I like to attend courses is that they force you to read a book..thoroughly…:).. The last book I completely finished reading was Da Vinci Code…

  3. Survivor

    November 18, 2005 at 2:26 am

    An interesting tidbit from a book that I read.Usually,people depict strong characteristics of either the left brain or the right. But,geniuses are formed when they know how to link both and use their artistic skills while doing analytical probs and viceversa. Einstein and Picasso were the examples mentioned.

  4. BrainWaves

    November 18, 2005 at 6:05 pm

    I always get confused with the spelling of Brain and Brian – can you please tell me which part of my Brian(?) is doing that?

    It is amazing how Brain works. I was other day thinking about the possibility of Exercising Brain and getting more out it like other body parts.

    Your article made my Brain work by reading all the sentences and follow the concept.

    P.S: If not anything this article helped me to type the word “Brain” correctly.

  5. Calm & Serene

    November 18, 2005 at 7:03 pm

    While reading the controller section of this article, I was reminded of the book ‘Prey’. In this book, the predator-prey algorithm had generated particles displaying swarm behaviour. There is no single control cell, but the swarm behaves as a co-ordinated whole. At that point, I remember thinking that maybe that is how our brain works too. And that is what enables us to build a cumulative knowledge base.
    But I must say you come with innovative posts 🙂

  6. Mindframes

    November 18, 2005 at 9:35 pm

    I have read ‘prey’ and to everyone’s surprise, fully…Its one of the best books that I have read and I perfectly understand what you are saying..

    I think, the difference between distributive processing (predator-prey algorithm) and brain processing is that, one section of a swarm is not responsible for a specific activity. They all follow some simple rules themselves which in turn would manifest into an emergent behaviour which is non-deterministic… That said, there are experiments or rather surgical anomalies where the left/right/sections of brain was removed for a person to fix some neurological damage and it was found that the person was still able to perform some of the functions associated with the removed section of the brain. This is where control of mind over body comes in…And, there is no answer to that yet…

    I wonder if my brain understands what I am talking about or is it just a placeholder for my mind, which is essentially using my brain to convey what it has to convey…:)

  7. IamwhatIam

    November 21, 2005 at 8:37 pm

    It is a very interesting topic indeed. Last year National Geographic had dedicated one issue to analyzing the brain. I have not read any book on it. But here is my 2 cents. Won’t there always be some part of the brain that will be elusive as long as we use the brain to understand the brain? We end up in a loop. We are now limited by the thought process algorithm (if there is any) of a brain. How does on go beyond this?. Maybe our brain is programmed in such a way that we cannot find the answer using just our brain. We as humans are ruled by our brain. We do things based on the decision that our brain takes. Are we using it or is it using us?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: