Complex Brain Wiring Unveiled in New Images
Surely one of the great mysteries of human life is how a single fertilized egg cell grows to an adult, with a brain sporting hundreds of billions of functional connections supporting abstract thought.
New Scientist discussed how researchers at Wayne State are using functional MRI to study fetal brains as they develop in the womb. it’s difficult, because the unborn baby is “doing backflips as we scan it,” they said. They implied that accurate wiring is essential, because miswiring can result in autism or schizophrenia, even if the baby survives till birth.
BBC News reporter Pallab Ghosh submitted his brain to science – while it was still safely operating in his skull. Inside one of the most powerful MRIs in the world at Massachusetts General Hospital, Ghosh sat still 45 minutes while the images were taken. Processed and colorized images and a video within the article show the intricate wiring between lobes, as the magnets focused in on water droplets in the nerve fibers. Then professor Van Weeden gave Ghosh a guided tour of his brain:
He showed me the connection that helped me to see and another one that helped me understand speech. There were twin arcs that processed my emotions and a bundle that connected the left and right sides of my brain.
Prof Wedeen used visualisation software that enabled him to fly around and through these pathways – even to zoom in to see intricate details.
He and his team hope to learn how the human mind works and what happens when it goes wrong.
By pointing out the things that can go wrong, Weeden implied that the wiring in a normal brain has a precise, functional order.
Weeden erred by saying that the images will help him learn “how the human mind works”. He equated the mind with the brain. The brain is the hardware; studying a computer will never show you how the software works. But if neither were designed, you would have mindless matter incapable of abstract thought (see philosopher Chalmers video on ENV, and ID the Future podcast with neuroscientist Jeffrey Schwartz).
You have a mind and the hardware (a brain) to make it productive. The mind is not just the seat of emotions and sensation, but of intellect and will. With your mind you can evaluate evidence, like the sophisticated wiring of the brain. With your mind you can weigh alternatives, such as the merits of evolution or creation. With your mind you can make decisions. Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30; Romans 1-6).