9 fascinating facts about Brain — The story of you(Part1)
Brain is a mysterious thing. It’s not hard to understand how the brain works. But if you want to learn more about the brain, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with neuroscience. Neuroscience is the study of the physical basis of our minds, brains, and brains in general.
I randomly picked up a book related to neuroscience but immensely engaging to a novice reader like me who doesn’t have any experience in science or medical subjects. The book I’m referring to is The Brain — The Story of you. Surely this is a great read!!
David Eagleman, the author has compiled a series of fascinating experiments and findings that will take you on a comprehensive tour of your brain through this book.
Let me share some of them here.
Some taste words. Some see sounds as colours. Some hear visual motion..
Hannah Bosley has an internal experience of colour when she looks at alphabets. She perceives J as purple and F as red. Her first name appears to her as a sunset, while the name “Iain” appears to her like vomit. This is a neurological condition called Synesthesia in which senses are blended. Some taste words. Some see sounds as colours etc. About 3% of the population has some form of Synesthesia. Synesthesia is a result of cross talk between sensory areas of the brain.
Changes in our brain reflect who we are and our actions. But what if the brain changes due to a disease or injury? Does this change who we are, our personalities, and our actions?
Charles Whitman, then 25, opened fire and killed 13 people at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966. He had murdered his wife and mother the night before. He wrote a suicide note after killing his wife and mother, claiming that he is an average reasonable and intelligent man, but he is experiencing irrational thoughts and has requested an auto-spy post his death. Whitman had a small brain tumour that was pressing against a part of his brain called the amygdala, which is involved in fear and aggression, according to the pathologist who performed the autopsy. This small amount of pressure on the amygdala caused changes in his brain, resulting in him acting in ways that are completely out of character. This is an extreme case. Not only disease but everything we experience in life shapes our neural network and shapes who we are today.
What if your dream state and actual reality are intertwined and you cannot figure out what is dream and reality?
Elyn Saks, a law professor at the University of Southern California, has schizophrenic episodes such as houses talking to her, explosions in her brain and the feeling that her brain is flowing out of her brain, hearing voices from a distance, and so on. Schizophrenia is a brain function disorder that causes her to hear voices, see things other people don’t see or believe other people are reading her thoughts. Schizophrenia is described as an intrusion of the dream state into the waking state.
If a brain were preserved, could a person’s thoughts and awareness and personhood ever be brought back to life?
Alcor Life Extension Foundation has been working on a technology that they believe will allow people to live a second life later in life. They currently store 129 people in deep freeze to prevent biological decay, a process known as Cryopreservation. The organisation stores their frozen body by infusing sixteen different chemicals and cooling all parts of the body to -124°C. A less expensive option is to preserve just the head. The hope is that one day, the technology will exist to carefully thaw and revive these frozen people and bring them back to life. Let's wait and see.
Blind people can see objects through their tongue…
Brainport, a postage stamp-sized device, delivers tiny electric shocks to the tongue via a small grid setup on the tongue. A blind person is wearing glasses with a camera attached to them. Camera pixels are converted into electric pulses on the tongue that feels similar to the fizz of a carbonated beverage. Using Brainport, blind people navigate obstacle courses or throw a ball into a basket. Though it may appear strange to see through the tongue, this is simply sending electrical signals into the darkness of the skull. This is known as sensory substitution, and it allows the brain to interpret new inputs. The brain processes whatever information it receives and attempts to make sense of it.
Rest, covered in part2 .
📚 Book link — Grab a copy
If you are interested check out other articles on my good reads