The Brain And Thinking: Exploring Consciousness Part 2.
There are correlations between areas of the brain and certain types of activity.
Scientists find this out by either stimulating or removing parts of the brain and looking at behaviour. They also explore it organically by studying the resultant effect of brain injury, or atypical epilepsy.
All of this suggests that the brain is involved in thinking. But it doesn’t necessarily mean the brain causes those thoughts. The brain activity observed could, in fact, be an after effect of thought activity occurring.
As you read this there is electrical activity in Broadbents area, in the left temporal lobe, but just because there is action in the lobe, does it mean the lobe is producing my blog?
This phenomena points to correlation not causation.
Could it instead be that the thoughts don’t take place in, or originate from the brain, but are mearly interpreted and processed by the brain?
If you take for example the tv set. It isn't responsible for the movies, nor do the movies take place in the tv. The tv is mearly an instrument through which movies are interpreted and displayed.
Many theories in science say the west have a reductionist approach, they try to work out how something works by trying to figure out what all the small parts do. You know, what cells do, what parts of the brain do.
To go back to the TV analogy, the small parts themselves, ( I have no idea what’s in a TV. Buttons, and star dust and Oprah Winfrey probably) aren’t capable of producing the movie on their own. Yet, as a whole the TV works to create the movie, the movie is an emergent property of the TV.
There is, according to Dr Greyson….
“No known mechanism by which physical processes in the brain or anywhere else can produce non physical things like thoughts, perceptions and memories”
If we move from the sense of thinking, to the sense of smell we might observe that smells occur, and their presence is observable, or indeed, the occurrence of ‘smelling’ and then the interpretation of what is smelt, is observable in the brain.
Smell, like taste, is picked up by chemoreceptors in the brain. When a smell is detected, by the chemoreceptors in the nose, it is passed as patterns of electrical activity to the brain where it is interpreted as a particular perfume, and this olfactory (smelling) stimulation becomes a full blown, real Mccoy perception. (Something I notice.)
Could it be that thoughts, interact with the brain in the same way that smells do?
Materialists often say that consciousness emerges from the brain. Many years ago, people thought that the mind and the brain were separate. But in the past few hundred years, in times of scientific empiricism, people started to wonder if the mind was indeed located within the brain. The brain then becoming the source of all personal thoughts.
What does all this mean? I don't know. It means there is still a lot unknown. From my side, it is interesting for a few reasons:
- What implications does this have on the notion of choice and free will? After all, what is a choice, but a thought happening? For example, the thought may come, ‘Shall I have tea, coffee or green juice? This is then followed by another thought ‘I think i’ll have green juice’. The choice itself, is itself, a thought in a perceived sequence of thoughts, whose man in charge, or chooser is implied, between the lines.
- What does this mean for our meditation? Well, could it be interesting to use our mindful meditation to engage with thoughts, in the same way we engage with smells. i.e.: knowing that a smell is there, allowing it to be there, but not claiming ourselves to be the originator of it, responsible for it. (Unless we were 🙂 )
- What about personal development, is is still worth making the most of ourselves? The brain, a muscle like all others, responds well to training. The brain, along with the body, may be your vehicle, the tv set, so to speak, by which you will interact with the world. Meditation, tennis, yoga, puzzles and all number of other activities, facilitate patterning in the brain and body, that lead to improved cognitive skills, flexibility and health. All in all, making our over all viewing experience much enjoyable.
I hope you have enjoyed this, second part of the two part blog series on consciousness. If you missed the first one you can read it here.
Would you like to read more on Emma Mills London on this topic? Please leave a comment bellow letting me know. What have you observed in life? I always love reading what you have to say.
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