Monday, March 25, 2013

Part 2: The Brain; Your Best Frenemy

By the time a fetus is three weeks old, the brain is fully functional. That doesn't mean full formed, but functional. It is in operational control of the autonomic system (heart, lungs, etc) and is sending nerve impulses to the extremities. It is also able to learn.

During this time the brain learns that it is warm, it is cared for, it has no worries. Then it's kicked out into this cold dry environment where it has to fend for itself. Put me back! Don't make me do this! Depending on the circumstances, a child quickly learns to cry when it's uncomfortable. The brain learns that in order to get what it wants all it has to do is make a fuss. Lovely thought.

But the brain is unformed. It doesn't understand cause and effect, doesn't understand that once it starts a chain reaction it can't choose the consequences.

And this, unfortunately, it will never learn.

Now understanding that this is all my own opinion, what would happen if you started getting a cold and told your brain out loud, "Brain, I do not have time for this cold. Put it off to the weekend."

Skeptical? You might find yourself surprised.

What if you said (again out loud) "Brain, I want to climb Mount Everest." Well, the brain doesn't really know what Mount Everest is. It might have pictures, it might have a vague understanding of "Big," but it can't carry you bodily to Mount Everest so that you can climb it. What it can do is push you into seeing ways that your dream might be possible. Or it might send you a nightmare of climbing some unknown mountain in the dark.

Your brain is your best frenemy. It makes everything possible, from the feeling in the soles of your feet to the playing of a concert. It also makes (or at least starts) every reaction that creates illness or health in the human body.

But as I said before, it doesn't understand cause and effect. "She needs down time" might seem to the brain to be a perfect excuse to let microbes run rampant, resulting in a cold that lasts weeks and puts you flat on your back. "He's doing something he doesn't like" might seem sufficient to create a chemical reaction that results in repeated panic attacks. Once these things start, it's much harder to make them stop. The Brain does not understand this. It's a computer, and can only put out what goes in. Most rational cognition takes place on another level entirely.

No comments:

Post a Comment