Tag Archives: science

In Our Head Facts- Brain Dominance

In an age where a 140 character message can spread around the world like the wildest of wildfires or a pizza-slice can transform into a bikini model with the artistic flare of a photo-shop engineer, we should be adept at closing our ears to hearsay and tattle and all sorts of false truths. Every now and then however the intuitive appeal of certain ideas tend to seep through even the most stringent of BS filters, making their way into a common garden of popular misconceptions.

One such idea is the weed of a notion that one side of our brain is more functionally dominant than the other resulting in individual differences in traits such as creativity, analytic ability or orderliness.

With Facebook statuses sharing results from BuzzFeed brain-dominance tests, professional write-ups detailing the personality traits of those who use one hemisphere of their brain more so than the other, even guidance counsellors basing career recommendations on tests of brain-sidedness, this myth just wont die.


To slice the ever-growing misconception at its stem, it is simply not true that one side of the brain does reason and analytical thinking and the other emotion and creativity. Simply not true. It is not true that the left-hemisphere is 100% responsible for language, or that the right-hemisphere is entirely in charge of creative thought.

Not. True.

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Filed under 2014, In Our Head Facts, Individual differences

When The Brain Stops- Aaron Freeman

B0002295 human skeleton - skull, neck & shoulders

I’ve emphasised again and again how critical a functioning brain is for human behaviour and, of course, life. While there’s still very little known about the root and run of the conscious mind, ideas purposed by leading theorists, many findings from the cognitive sciences, even the very title of this blog, strongly suggest that personality and consciousness are products of the functioning brain, that all there is to us is the neural cogs, wheels and connections residing inside our head.

When considered in light of the inevitable brain death waiting at the end of our days this makes for rather morbid reading. When our neurons stop signalling, our neural structures start shrinking, when our cerebral cogs quit connecting and our cognitive wheels stop spinning…mustn’t our presence on earth also end?

Not so. And the following speech by American comedian and journalist Aaron Freeman eloquently conveys why this is the case.

Freeman’s words about why you should have a Physicist speak at your funeral, make up the most moving piece of pros I’ve ever read, or heard, relating to the world post brain activity. No matter your religious beliefs, or lack thereof, this piece will move you, it will reassure you, it will teach you that not only did your very presence change the world, but it will continue to do so. It will enlighten you as to how you, your family members, your friends, your favourite musicians, poets and playwrights, how we all continue to be when the brain no longer speaks.

I couldn’t but share…

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Filed under brain death, Speech, Wisdom

Are we living inside one enormous Brain?

I’ve always been struck by how alike microscopic images of the brain are to depictions of the universe. The pictures of neuronal connections and other microscopic brain images in biology books appeared to me to bear a striking resemblance to many of those portraying aspects of outer space in physics books and related media.

Having only what you might call a pop scientific education in matters of the cosmos, I never thought of this connection as anything more than a superficial coincidence. However, after recently coming across the following excerpt from a 2006 edition of the New York Times, I’ve been spurred into reconsidering the relationship.


The picture on the left is a microscopic segment of a mouses brain, the one on the right is a computer simulation of the structure of the universe.  According to the text written above the images, the picture of the neuron is “only micrometres wide” whereas the image of the universe is “billions of light-years across” and yet, as the text points out,  “together [the images] suggest surprisingly similar patterns found in vastly different natural phenomena.”

The fact this connection had been acknowledged outside the realm of my own imagination unleashed a whole swarm of ardent notions (it’s amazing what a bit of reassurance can do).

For instance, if a similarity exists between the connections of neurons in our head and connections between galaxies in our universe, what’s to say a similar connection might not be found between each and every individual in our world, or each and every world in any one galaxy.

What if, and this one’s going to sound particularly outlandish, humans are just the equivalent of a collection of neurons in one gigantic brain, one gigantic brain inside many gigantic brains even. What if, that is, we’re all living inside one enormous Brain. Consider it something of a “Russian doll theory of life”, a human brain, functioning within a world brain, functioning within a galactic brain…you get the picture.

Sure, it might seem a thing of the most far-fetched science fiction, but even at that, it is fun to allow the mind a boggle every once and awhile…



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Why the brain?

You have an entire galaxy suspended within your skull, this galaxy is largely made of active little units known as neurons. You have as inconceivable a number of these neuronal “brain cells” as there are stars in the milkyway and as many connections between them as there are stars in the known universe. Your brains’ neurons and their supporting cells-their glia and astrocytes- continuously interact and integrate, passing neural information through complex sequences of connections in order to form the polyphony of activity that brings about your being. This cranial galaxy is your brain, the realm of your intellect, your imagination and creativity, the kingdom of your consciousness.
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Filed under Introduction