Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Vain Brain-- by Jennifer Taylor

      You are about to read that which comes from a self-educated and self-trained mind that considers all life on earth (including modern humans) through a prism of evolutionary thought, reason and logic. Sort of like philosophy without the boner for human ego. I am also a lifelong student of free thought, which means you are urged to debate, question or utterly dismiss the belief system regarding the human brain I have gleaned from 20+ years of geeky armchair neuroscience. Lastly, I have been drawn to conclude an absolute: we are by the very nature of our working brain hopelessly, horribly biased. Therefore, my sources of information are pro science-based methodology and peer-reviewed literature. Onward to the brain behind the "self" and reality as we do not even close to know it..

     Your three-ish pounds of energy-vampire silken tofu-like control center of a staggeringly complex one hundred billion brain cells is quite probably the most cognitively rich in the history of our planet.It is the only known brain to have the cognitive ability to understand our own eventual mortality, both a gift and a curse. I am always a whore for knowing. Do not confuse this with the natural world's faulty-recipe strive toward an evolutionary pinnacle: hello horseshoe crabs, sharks, cockroaches...we may have guns and steel but after the microbial world, the lowly mosquito is arguably the most historically deadly creature to our species, aside from ourselves, of course. 

     Currently a hot topic amongst the nuerogeeks is how we begin to grasp that what we experience as waking, conscious  individuals is filtered, altered and distorted by the brain behind the curtain. The why is easy: protection from an uncertain and unknown existence. The How? There lies the paradox of trying to understand the brain with the brain. Your brain is the key master of the reality the "self" perceives through its senses. Your very concept of "self" is a brain construct.

The following are some of my notes of research-based generalities common to the vast majority of us: 
-our memory is faulty to a degree that it becomes one of the ego's greatest allies.

-we think our weaknesses are very common while our strengths are unique.     
-we overwhelmingly prefer explanations that cast us in the best light and memory will alter facts to fit our version of events in a matter of days.
-our self-serving bias works well below conscious thought.

That is a small taste of our very vain brain. Chaw on that for a while...

1 comment:

the author said...

I look forward to more.