From the book “THE BRAIN - THE STORY OF YOU”
by David Eagleman
Because brain science is a fast-moving field, its rare to step back to view the lay of the land, to work out what our studies mean for our lives, to discuss in a plain and simple way what it means to be a biological creature. This book sets out to do that.
Brain science matters. The strange computational material in our skulls is the perceptual machinery by which we navigate the world, the stuff from which decisions arise, the material from which imagination is forged. Our dreams and our waking lives emerge from its billions of zapping cells. A better understanding of the brain sheds light on what we take to be real in our personal relationships and what we take to be necessary in our social policy: how we fight, why we love, what we accept as true, how we should educate, how we can craft better social policy, and how to design our bodies for the centuries to come. In the brains microscopically small circuitry is etched the history and future of our species.
Given the brains centrality to our lives, I used to wonder why our society so rarely talks about it, preferring instead to fill our airwaves with celebrity gossip and reality shows. But I now think this lack of attention to the brain can be taken not as a shortcoming, but as a clue: we’re so trapped inside our reality that it is inordinately difficult to realize we’re trapped inside anything. At first blush, it seems that perhaps there's nothing to talk about. Of course colors exist in the outside world. Of course my memory is like a video camera. Of course I know the real reasons for my beliefs.
The pages of this book will put all our assumptions under the spotlight. In writing it, I wanted to get away from a textbook model in favor of illuminating a deeper level of enquiry: how we decide, how we perceive reality, who we are, how our lives are steered, why we need other people, and where we're heading as a species that's just beginning to grab its own reins. This project attempts to bridge the gap between the academic literature and the lives we lead as brain owners. The approach I take here diverges from the academic journal articles I write, and even from my other neuroscience books. This project is meant for a different kind of audience. It doesn’t presuppose any specialized knowledge, only curiosity and an appetite for self-exploration.
So strap in for a whistle-stop tour into the inner cosmos. In the infinitely dense tangle of billions of brain cells and their trillions of connections, I hope you’ll be able to squint and make out something that you might not have expected to see in there…..You.
All the experiences in your life - from single conversations to your broader culture - shape the microscopic details of your brain. Neurally speaking, who you are depends on where you've been. Your brain is a relentless shape-shifter, constantly rewriting its own circuitry - and because your experiences are unique, so are the vast, detailed patterns in your neural networks. Because they continue to change your whole life, your identity is a moving target; it never reaches an endpoint.
Although neuroscience is my daily routine, I’m still in awe every time I hold a human brain. After you take into account its substantial weight (an adult brain weighs in at three pounds), its strange consistency (like firm jelly), and its wrinkled appearance (deep valleys carving a puffy landscape) - what’s striking is the brains sheer physicality: this hunk of unremarkable stuff seems so at odds with the mental processes it creates.
Our thoughts and our dreams, our memories and experiences all arise from this strange neural material. Who we are is found within its intricate firing patterns of electrochemical pulses. When that activity stops, so do you. When that activity changes character, due to injury or drugs, you change character in lockstep. Unlike any other part of your body, if you damage a small piece of the brain, who you are is likely to change radically. To understand how this is possible, lets start at the beginning.
[THE AUTHOR IS NOT WRITING ABOUT THE BRAIN FROM A THEOLOGY POINT AT ALL; WHAT HE AND TENS OF MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW, IS THE FACT THAT THE REVEALED KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AS FOUND IN THE HOLY BIBLE, TELLS US THAT MAN HAS A “SPIRIT IN MAN” THAT WORKS WITH THE HUMAN PHYSICAL BRAIN. THERE ARE LARGER BRAINS, IN SIZE, THAN THE HUMAN BRAIN. WHAT MAKES THE HUMAN BRAIN SO DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER BRAIN OF ANY OTHER CREATURE ON EARTH, IS THE UNSEEN “SPIRIT” FROM GOD THAT IS CONNECTED TO OUR PHYSICAL BRAIN. TOGETHER WE HAVE THE MOST UNIQUE BRAIN ON EARTH. THIS “SPIRIT IN MAN” GIVES US THE ABILITY TO THINK AND REASON, TO LEARN AND UNDERSTAND, TO GROW IN KNOWLEDGE, TO INVENT, AND TO DO ALL THAT MANKIND HAS EVER DONE, BE IT GOOD OR BAD. WE HUMANS, UNDER A NORMAL HEALTHY LIFE, CAN COME TO KNOW WHAT IS GOOD, WHAT IS BAD, WHAT IS RIGHT, WHAT IS WRONG….. WHAT IN THE THEOLOGY WORLD IS CALLED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SIN, OR GOODNESS AND EVIL.
THIS SPIRIT IN MAN CAN ONLY FUNCTION AS IT WAS MEANT TO FUNCTION BY GOD, WITHIN THE PARAMETERS OF A NORMAL BRAIN, THAT HAS NO DEFECT. IN OTHER WORDS IF THE PHYSICAL BRAIN IS DAMAGED IN WHATEVER WAY, THE SPIRIT IN MAN DOES NOT JUMP IN AND COMPENSATE FOR A DAMAGED BRAIN. THIS SPIRIT IN MAN IS NOT SOME LIVING ENTITY IN MANKIND THAT IS THE REAL YOU; IT IS NOT THE THEOLOGICAL TEACHING OF THE IMMORTAL SOUL, THAT TEACHES THE REAL YOU IS INSIDE THE PHYSICAL BODY, AND SO AFTER DEATH CAN CONTINUE TO THINK, TO TALK, TO WALK AROUND, TO SEE AND CONVERSE WITH OTHERS THAT WENT BEFORE. THE SPIRIT IN MAN IS NOT AN IMMORTAL YOU THAT UPON DEATH EITHER GOES TO HEAVEN OR HELL; THAT CONTINUES TO FUNCTION IN EVERY WAY, BUT ONLY IN A DIFFERENT PLACE - HEAVEN OR HELL.
WE CLEARLY SEE THAT IF A PERSON IS DAMAGES IN A PART OF THE BRAIN, SAY THAT OF SPEAKING, THE “SPIRIT” IN MAN DOES NOT JUMP IN TO TAKE OVER THE SPEAKING, AND GIVE NORMAL SPEAKING TO THE PERSON WHOSE BRAIN IS DAMAGED IN THAT PART OF THE BRAIN TO DO WITH SPEECH. THE SAME TRUTH CAN BE USED FOR WALKING, FOR SEEING, FOR HEARING, AND ETC. THE “SPIRIT IN MAN” ONLY GIVES THE ABILITY FOR A PHYSICAL HUMAN BRAIN TO BE A PHYSICAL HUMAN BRAIN, THAT IS FAR ABOVE THE ANIMAL BRAIN. FOR THE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS THAT MAN AND MONKEY HAVE BEEN ON THE EARTH, THE MONKEY IS NO CLOSER TO INVENTING A TYPE-WRITER, AND COMPILING THE MANY VOLUMES FULL OF FACTS AND TRUTHS OF THE OLD ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA MANY OF US HAD BEFORE THE COMPUTER AGE…… AND NO MONKEY IS ANY CLOSER TO INVENTING THE COMPUTER, FROM THE DAY IT CAME INTO THIS WORLD.
THE HUMAN BRAIN IS UNIQUE AMONG ALL THE BRAINS THAT EXSIST IN ALL CREATURES THAT HAVE BRAINS.
THAT UNIQUENESS IS BECAUSE OF THE “SPIRIT IN MAN”….. AND I HAVE WRITTEN A FULL IN-DEPTH STUDY ON THE THEOLOGICAL TRUTH THAT THERE IS A SPIRIT IN MAN. YOU WILL FIND IT UNDER “LIFE, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION” STUDY #7 - Keith Hunt]
At birth we humans are helpless. We spend about a year unable to walk, about two more before we can articulate full thoughts, and many more years unable to fend for ourselves. We are totally dependent on those around us for our survival. Now compare this to many other mammals. Dolphins, for instance, are born swimming; giraffes learn to stand within hours; a baby zebra can run within forty-five minutes of birth. Across the animal kingdom, our cousins are strikingly independent soon after they're born.
On the face of it, that seems like a great advantage for other species - but in fact it signifies a limitation. Baby animals develop quickly because their brains are wiring up according to a largely preprogrammed routine. But that preparedness trades off with flexibility. Imagine if some hapless rhinoceros found itself on the Arctic tundra, or on top of a mountain in the Himalayas, or in the middle of urban Tokyo. It would have no capacity to adapt (which is why we don’t find rhinos in those areas). This strategy of arriving with a pre-arranged brain works inside a particular niche in the ecosystem - but put an animal outside of that niche, and its chances of thriving are low.
In contrast, humans are able to thrive in many different environments, from the frozen tundra to the high mountains to bustling urban centers. This is possible because the human brain is born remarkably unfinished. Instead of arriving with everything wired up - let’s call it "hardwired" - a human brain allows itself to be shaped by the details of life experience. This leads to long periods of helplessness as the young brain slowly molds to its environment. It's "livewired".
[SO THE HUMAN BRAIN IS VERY NEUTRAL AT BIRTH; IT IS NOT FILLED WITH “ORIGINAL SIN” FROM ADAM AS SOME TEACH; THAT TEACHING I FIND IS ONE OF THE MOST FAR OUT, PLANET PLUTO TEACHINGS I’VE EVER HEARD. THE HUMAN BABY’S BRAIN IS NEUTRAL! ADAM WAS CREATED WITH A BRAIN THAT WAS NEUTRAL; IT DID NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT RIGHTEOUSNESS OR SIN; ADAM AND EVE WERE AS WE MIGHT SAY “CLEAN SLATED” WHEN THEY CAME INTO THIS WORLD, THEY HAD A CLEAN SLATED MIND THAT COULD GO EITHER WAY - RIGHT OR WRONG; IT COULD BE INFLUENCED EITHER WAY, BUT BEFORE BEING INFLUENCED TO SIN IT WAS NEUTRAL. SO IS A BABY AND A SMALL CHILD….. THEIR MIND IS NEUTRAL - Keith Hunt]
Childhood pruning: exposing the statue in the marble
What's the secret behind the flexibility of young brains? It's not about growing new cells - in fact, the number of brain cells is the same in children and adults. Instead, the secret lies in how those cells are connected.
At birth, a baby's neurons are disparate and unconnected, and in
Many animals are born genetically preprogrammed, or "hardwired" for certain instincts and behaviors. Genes guide the construction of their bodies and brains in specific ways that define what they will be and how they'll behave. A fly's reflex to escape in the presence of a passing shadow; a robin's preprogrammed instinct to fly south in the winter; a bear's desire to hibernate; a dog's drive to protect its master: these are all examples of instincts and behaviors that are hardwired. Hardwiring allows these creatures to move as their parents do from birth, and in some cases to eat for themselves and survive independently.
In humans the situation is somewhat different. The human brain comes into the world with some amount of genetic hardwiring (for example, for breathing, crying, suckling, caring about faces, and having the ability to learn the details of their native language). But compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, human brains are unusually incomplete at birth.The detailed wiring diagram of the human brain is not preprogrammed; instead, genes give very general directions for the blueprints of neural networks, and world experience fine-tunes the rest of the wiring, allowing it to adapt to the local details.
The human brain's ability to shape itself to the world into which it's born has allowed our species to take over every ecosystem on the planet and begin our move into the solar system.
the first two years of life they begin connecting up extremely rapidly as they take in sensory information. As many as two million new connections, or synapses, are formed every second in an infants brain. By age two, a child has over one hundred trillion synapses, double the number an adult has.
It has now reached a peak and has far more connections than it will need. At this point, the blooming of new connections is supplanted by a strategy of neural "pruning". As you mature, 50% of your synapses will be pared back.
Which synapses stay and which go? When a synapse successfully participates in a circuit, it is strengthened; in contrast, synapses weaken if they aren't useful, and eventually they are eliminated. Just like paths in a forest, you lose the connections that you don t use.
In a sense, the process of becoming who you are is defined by carving back the possibilities that were already present. You become who you are not because of what grows in your brain, but because of what is removed.
Throughout our childhoods, our local environments refine our brain, taking the jungle of possibilities and shaping it back to correspond to what were exposed to. Our brains form fewer but stronger connections.
In a newborn brain, neurons are relatively unconnected to one another. Over the first two to three years, the branches grow and the cells become increasingly connected. After that, the connections are pruned back, becoming fewer and stronger in adulthood.
As an example, the language that you re exposed to in infancy (say, English versus Japanese) refines your ability to hear the particular sounds of your language, and worsens your capacity to hear the sounds of other languages. That is, a baby born in Japan and a baby born in America can hear and respond to all the sounds in both languages. Through time, the baby raised in Japan will lose the ability to distinguish between, say, the sounds of R and L, two sounds that aren't separated in Japanese. We are sculpted by the world we happen to drop into.
[THE BIBLE SAY THERE IS A LENGTH OF TIME (WHICH CAN VARY DEPENDING ON MANY FACTS OF THE SURROUNDING WORLD OF INFLUENCE) WHEN “CHILDREN” ARE VERY INNOCENT, OR CAN BE VERY INNOCENT AGAIN DEPENDING ON OUTSIDE FACTORS THE CHILD FINDS IT IS IN. MARK THIS VERSE IN YOUR BIBLE: “MOREOVER YOUR LITTLE ONES, WHICH YOU SAID SHOULD BE A PREY, AND YOUR CHILDREN, WHICH IN THAT DAY HAD NO KNOWLEDGE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL…….” (DEUT. 1:39) - Keith Hunt]
Over our protracted childhood, the brain continually pares back its connections, shaping itself to the particulars of its environment. This is a smart strategy to match a brain to its environment - but it also comes with risks.
If developing brains are not given the proper, "expected" environment - one in which a child is nurtured and looked after - the brain will struggle to develop normally. This is something the Jensen family from Wisconsin has experienced first-hand. Carol and Bill Jensen adopted Tom, John, and Victoria when the children were four years old. The three children were orphans who had, until their adoption, endured appalling conditions in state-run orphanages in Romania - with consequences for their brain development.
When the Jensens picked up the children and took a taxi out of Romania, Carol asked the taxi driver to translate what the children were saying. The taxi driver explained they were speaking gibberish. It was not a known language; starved of normal interaction, the children had developed a strange Creole. As they've grown up, the children have had to deal with learning disabilities, the scars of their childhood deprivation.
Tom, John, and Victoria don't remember much about their time in Romania. In contrast, someone who remembers the institutions vividly is Dr. Charles Nelson, Professor of Pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital. He first visited these institutions in 1999. What he saw horrified him. Young children were kept in their cribs, with no sensory stimulation. There was a single caretaker for every fifteen children, and these workers were instructed not to pick the children up or show them affection in any way, even when they were crying - the concern was that such displays of affection would lead to the children wanting more, an impossibility with the limited staffing. In this context, things were as regimented as possible. Children were lined up on plastic pots for toileting. Everyone got the same haircut, regardless of gender. They were dressed alike, fed on schedule. Everything was mechanized.
Children whose cries went unanswered soon learned not to cry. The children were not held and were not played with. Although they had their basic needs met (they were fed, washed and clothed), the infants were deprived of emotional care, support, and any kind of stimulation. As a result, they developed "indiscriminate friendliness". Nelson explains that he'd walk into a room and be surrounded by little kids he'd never seen before - and they'd want to jump into his arms and sit on his lap or hold his hand or walk off with him. Although this sort of indiscriminate behavior seems sweet at first glance, it's a coping strategy of neglected children, and it goes hand-in-hand with long-term attachment issues. It is a hallmark behavior of children who have grown up in an institution.
Shaken by the conditions they were witnessing, Nelson and his team set up the Bucharest Early Intervention Program. They assessed 136 children, aged six months to three years, who had been living in institutions from birth. First, it became clear that the children had IQs in the sixties and seventies, compared to an average of one hundred. The children showed signs of under-developed brains and their language was very delayed. When Nelson used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the electrical activity
In 1966, to increase the population and the work force, Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu banned contraception and abortion. State gynecologists known as "menstrual police" examined women of childbearing age to ensure they were producing enough offspring. A "celibacy tax" was levied on families who had fewer than five children.The birth rate skyrocketed.
Many poor families couldn't afford to care for their children -and so they gave them over to state-run institutions. In turn, the state rolled out more institutions to meet the soaring numbers. By 1989, when Ceausescu was ousted, 170,000 abandoned children resided in institutions.
Scientists soon revealed the consequences of an institutional upbringing on brain development. And those studies influenced government policy. Over the years, most of the Romanian orphans have been returned to their parents or removed to government foster care. By 2005, Romania made it illegal for children to be institutionalized before the age of two, unless severely disabled.
Millions of orphans still live in institutionalized government care around the world. Given the necessity of a nurturing environment for an infant's developing brain, it is imperative that governments find ways to get the children into conditions that allow proper brain development.
in these children's brains, he found they had dramatically reduced neural activity.
Without an environment with emotional care and cognitive stimulation, the human brain cannot develop normally.
[I HAD A BOOK WAY BACK IN THE 1960s ABOUT HEALTHY AND UNHEALTHY EMOTIONS, SHOWING CHEMICAL CHANGES IN THE BODY DEPENDING ON YOUR EMOTIONS. ONE SECTION OF THE BOOK TOLD ABOUT ORPHAN BABIES, THOSE THAT WERE HELD AND CUDDLED THRIVED NORMALLY, SOME OF THOSE NOT GIVEN THAT VERY TOUCHABLE LOVE, GOT SICK, SOME EVEN DIED - Keith Hunt]
Encouragingly, Nelsons study also revealed an important flipside: the brain can often recover, to varying degrees, once the children are removed to a safe and loving environment. The younger a child is removed, the better his recovery. Children removed to foster homes before the age of two generally recovered well. After two, they made improvements - but depending on the age of the child they were left with differing levels of developmental problems.
Nelsons results highlight the critical role of a loving, nurturing environment for a developing child's brain. And this illustrates the profound importance of the environment around us in shaping who we become. We are exquisitely sensitive to our surroundings. Because of the wire-on-the-fly strategy of the human brain, who we are depends heavily on where we've been.
A FASCINATING RELATIVELY NEW BOOK  ON THE BRAIN; PUT IN EASY TO UNDERSTAND LANGUAGE. WELL WORTH HAVING IN YOUR HOME LIBRARY.
SOME ANSWERS TO SOME QUESTIONS OF SOME BIBLE VERSES.
THERE ARE THOSE “FIRE AND BRIMSTONE” PREACHERS WHO WILL SHOUT OUT IN NO UNCERTAIN VOICE THE VERSE IN JEREMIAH 17:9 “THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS; AND DESPERATELY WICKED; WHO CAN KNOW IT?”
UNLESS YOU HAVE A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE OF HOW THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN IN ENGLISH, OR YOU HAVE A BAD TRANSLATION, YOU ARE KINDA STUCK FOR THE ANSWER. BUT IF YOU HAVE SAY A KJV AND KNOW THAT ALL ITALIC WORD MEAN THEY WERE NOT IN THE ORIGINAL HEBREW, THEN YOU CAN KNOW HOW THIS VERSE REALLY READS “THE HEART IS (NOT IN THE HEBREW) (CAN BE - IS BETTER FROM READING THE WHOLE BIBLE) DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL; AND DESPERATELY WICKED….”
ADAM WAS NOT CREATED WITH A DESPERATELY WICKED HEART!
BABIES ARE NOT BORN WITH A DESPERATELY WICKED HEART!
A DESPERATELY WICKED HEART COMES FROM A LIFE BORN INTO DESPERATELY WICKED PEOPLE AROUND IT; OR FROM BEING TAUGHT FROM THE DUGOUT DESPERATELY WICKED WAYS TO GROW UP AND LIVE IN, BY DESPERATELY WICKED PEOPLE. CHILDREN BORN INTO LANDS OF CIVIL WAR, BORN INTO A PEOPLE WHO HATE AND WANT TO KILL THIS OTHER PEOPLE, BEING SO INFLUENCED AND TAUGHT FROM VERY EARLY ON IN LIFE, FROM THE CRADLE SHALL WE SAY, WILL PRODUCE YOUNG CHILDREN WITH DESPERATELY WICKED HEARTS.
CHILDREN BORN INTO FAMILIES OF LOVE, CALM, PEACE; INTO COUNTRIES OF LOVE, CALM, PEACE, WILL PRODUCE CHILDREN THAT FOR EX NUMBER OF YEARS, “WHICH IN THAT DAY HAD NO KNOWLEDGE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL.”
I WAS BORN INTO A FAMILY AND COUNTRY OF LOVE, CALM, PEACE, BORN INTO A SMALL VILLAGE IN SOUTH WALES, WHERE PEOPLE COULD LEAVE THEIR DOORS UNLOCKED, WHERE CHILDREN COULD WANDER AROUND THE VILLAGE IN COMPLETE SAFETY. FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS IN MY LIFE I HAD NO KNOWLEDGE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL. I NEVER SAW EVIL NOR DID I HEAR EVIL, NOT EVEN FOUL OR BAD LANGUAGE FROM ANYONE. OTHER CHILDREN MY AGE WERE DOING NO EVIL TOWARDS OTHER CHILDREN, WE SIMPLY PLAYED TOGETHER ENJOYING OURSELVES, ENJOYING LIFE IN AN ENJOYABLE PLACE AND ENJOYABLE SURROUNDINGS.
MANY PREACHERS OF FIRE AND BRIMSTONE LIKE TO QUOTE THE VERSES, OR PARTS OF VERSES THAT SHOW THE HEART AS EVIL, WICKED, SINFUL - THEY NEVER QUOTE IT SEEMS THE VERSES OR PARTS OF VERSES THAT SHOW THE HEART CAN BE GOOD…..LIKE—— “A GOOD MAN, OUT OF THE GOOD TREASURE OF HIS HEART, BRINGS FORTH GOOD THINGS…..” (MATTHEW 12:35).
YES THE LAST PART OF THE VERSE IS ABOUT AN EVIL MAN WHO BRINGS FORTH EVIL THINGS.
SO YES THE HEART CAN BE DESPERATELY WICKED AS JEREMIAH 17:9 SAYS. AND AS VERSE 10 SAYS, GOD KNOWS IT, THE HEART, AND WILL JUDGE ACCORDINGLY, TO GIVE THE FRUIT OF THEIR DOINGS.
BACK TO THE BOOK I’VE RECENTLY BOUGHT; A GOOD BOOK, SIMPLY WRITTEN, TO SHOW THE WONDER OF THE HUMAN BRAIN.
AS KING DAVID OF ISRAEL SAID, “WE ARE FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE.”