“I used to think, ‘Wow, the brain is the most amazing thing ever!’ but then I realized, ‘Wait a minute. Who’s telling me that?’” – Anonymous
It’s common now to think of your brain as a high tech command center that’s interpreting incoming data streams from five senses and making you play Candy Crush against your will, but philosophers didn’t always see it that way.
Aristotle scoffed at the notion that the brain could be responsible for sensation or the seat of the self.
When the ancient Egyptians mummified their relatives, they removed the brain and threw it away, thinking it worthless stuff indeed.
Actually, your brain is the center of a sophisticated neural network that reaches all the way down your spine to the tip of your big toe. Your brain is continually rewiring itself in response to new experiences. Each brain wires itself a little differently, making it as unique as a fingerprint.
The brain is a little like the processing chip in a smartphone, making human beings the original smart machine. Like any hungry processor, your brain wants data. New experiences and ideas spark the neuron storm that is responsible for creativity, intelligence, and intuition.
It may have been the novelty of a changing environment that first spurred the brain on to its incredible growth and development. At the same time, people started making tools, living in large social groups, controlling fire and eating a seriously nutrient rich diet for the first time.
No one knows which came first – the new experiences, the extended clans, the protein diet or the brain increase, but they are are still closely related and interdependent.
The human brain is really the raison d’être of evolution. With its incredible computing capacity and raw intelligence, humans have mastered the world and penetrated space. No one knows for sure what evolution will bring next, but the brain is sure to be at the center of it.
In a way, we’ve come full circle. The Stoics and other ancients considered the mind as the originator of reality, and today neuroscience has come to back that up.
The brain has again taken center stage, and science has begun to delve into what was previously the territory of sages and philosophers: the study of brain, especially as it relates to the consciousness and creativity.
Improving and enhancing the brain’s power isn’t just in the interest of our collective survival, the brain is also essential to our own personal development and growth. Improving motivation, concentration, memory, and happiness is a multi-billion industry, but in the end it all comes down to boosting our brain power. Even willpower is a finite resource produced by this most prodigious organ.
Earlier this year, the human brain was successfully modeled by the most advanced supercomputers using Neural Simulation Technology (NeST). It took 700,000 processors and 40 minutes of data crunching to simulate one second of brain activity.
The brain, after all, is rather vain. Can you blame it?