So recently, I started to read books and I did not want to keep reading all the self-help books, so for a change, I bought this book called The Brain-The Story of You. The first few pages of this book were so interesting that I read the complete book in a week.
Why this book?
How does our brain work? Can we copy our brains onto a computer? If we do, then will it work the same as a real brain? Will it be self-aware? I had all these interesting questions and, in some ways, this book answered all my questions. We also have few answers to why do we procrastinate? Why do we choose to follow bad habits even when we know that they are bad? What is the part of our brain that actually makes us ME?
In this post I want to share a few of the learnings about our brains that I found very interesting.
When we think about consciousness, we should not think about the parts and structures of the brain, but how the different parts of the brain interact. So we can not point to any part of the brain and say that it is consciousness. The way neurons communicate with other neurons is itself consciousness.
If we copy the entire structure of our brain with all neurons and connections intact, then can we say that this brain is me? Absolutely not, because we are not just the physical neuron structure of the brain but also the chemical reactions that happen inside the brain. Dopamine when we are excited, Cortisol when we are depressed, and a million other chemical reactions make us US. So, unless we can mimic the chemical reaction, it is what causes us our feelings. Without these chemical reactions in our brain, there is no love, no hate, no anger and no depression.
Because the brain has no pain receptors, a patient can be awake during a surgery.
Theoretically, we can interchange brain cells with circuits, and oxygen can be replaced with electricity. The amount of data that we will need to store to store the complete architecture of our brain will be HUGE. A single brain would require a zettabyte of storage capacity. For comparison, it is the total size of all the digital content in the world right now. If we can have all the alternative parts and everything is in place, then it is possible to have a complete digital brain.
Why time seems going fast
Because as we grow older, we do not make new memories. When we were children or young at that time, we had a lot of new experiences. A lot of events are the first in our lives, and when we look back at our memories, it feels like we have done a lot and those years feel like a lot. But when we grow old and fall into the trap of routines of doing a job with no new experience, the brain discards this redundant information and it is never saved in our brain memory. Since we have no memory of those times, it feels like time just ran too quickly.
This is related to the above experience. When we start to learn any new skill, it challenges your brain and you have to be very conscious about doing it. Take, for example, learning to ride a bike. For the first few times, till you learn to ride a bide. You would have been very careful and with a lot of concentration. But the brain does not like this, so after a few times, your brain learns this process of riding a bike and then it automates it. And now the brain sits back and relaxes, and riding the bike becomes automatic. This is so effective that you don’t even have any memory of riding when you reach the destination. This happens with all the skills you learn in your life. They are so effective and routine that if you are not careful, you live your life unconsciously. With adding more and more new skills, you do, after a time, you do not even precisely know how you do the things you do.
If I ask you to tell me any of your memories, then your brain will access that memory and you will start telling me the story, but is it completely true? Is your memory reliable? Our memories are not very vivid like the videos we take, instead there are very foggy details filled with their own interpretation. So you will remember I went to that party and I met him, but you may not remember the exact dish you ate or all the conversations you had or how many people you met there. This is the brain’s way of compressing data so that it can store new data.