WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Sunday, May 20, 2018

"No Two Brains Can Be, Or Ever Will Be, Alike..."

I just finished Olivers Sacks' (9 July 1933 – 30 August 2015) great book "On the Move - A Life.  Such an amazing, inspiring mind. A compassionate, empathetic, inspiring, Human Being - "a British Neurologist, Naturalist, Historian of Science and Author."

Another one of those books where there is a revelation on just about every page. An super-intelligent read. You "feed your head" just by burying yourself in this book.

Towards the end we meet Gerald M. Edelman an American Biologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1972. Sacks wrestles with Edelman's "Neural Darwinism - A New Approach to Memory and Perception." According to Sacks, Edelman's theory is a game-changing insight on the brain.

I, of course, don't really understand it all, but I will gladly jump to ill-informed conclusions based on the the implications of Neural Darwinism, because, well, that is the way I roll. Let me sum it up like so - our brains are elastic & plastic, easily changeable; and our experiences, the sights & sounds of our lives, can change the actual structure of our brains.

No brain works exactly like any other brain. There is a "natural selection" of neurons inside our craniums. Each brain is unique. Not only in the memories, the experiences, but in the actual way the neurons bond and work with each other. Freaky Cool. Seems so exciting to think that everything we do, everything we think, everything we experience, the music we listen to, the people we associate with, the actions we take, actually construct a very unique brain that works unlike any other.

Isreal Rosenfield (The New York Review of Books): "Each person according to his theory is unique: his or her perceptions are to some degree creations and his or her memories are part of an ongoing process of imagination. A mental life cannot be reduced to molecules. Human intelligence is not just knowing more, but reworking, recategorizing, and thus generalizing information in new and surprising ways. It could be that inappropriate categorizations from damaged maps may cause psychoses, just as the inability to correlate the succession of objects or events in time may be largely responsible for the loss of specific memories in the case of amnesia already mentioned.

Of course, language is acquired in society, but our ability to use it, to constantly reconceive the world around us, is at least in part a reflection of the multiple mappings and remappings that appear to be central to brain function. Such a view reinforces the idea that no two brains can be, or ever will be, alike. Edelman’s theory of neuronal group selection challenges those who claim that science views individual human beings and other animals as reproducible machines and that science is little concerned with the unique attributes of individuals and the sources of that uniqueness. Humanism never had a better defense."

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