March 16, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Your Soul Comes With Automated Brain Software

When you think about the following news about the brain’s processing powers, ask yourself, “who” is operating it?

Great minds may think alike, but all minds look alike (Science Daily). Our brains can learn things. That’s why we go to school. Neuroscientists at Bar-Ilan University want to know where learning is located in the brain. Overturning a 70-year old paradigm which said that the major activity occurs in synapses between neurons, these scientists claim that the dendrites are where the action is. Highly-activated dendrites grow stronger, they say, and less active dendrites grow weaker. Do highways direct their own flow, or is there a soul directing them?

The (skeleton) structure of the brain is like a road map consisting of many narrow streets (i.e., weak links), and a small fraction of highways each containing thousands of lanes (i.e., very strong links). Such a diverse road map could either be a spontaneous outcome of a random brain activity, or alternatively could be directed by a meaningful learning activity, where the “highways” direct the information flow in the brain.

Covert Consciousness: Searching for Volitional Brain Activity in the Unresponsive (Current Biology). This paper describes methods for determining if unresponsive patients, assumed ‘brain dead’ or in a coma, might still have a “who” inside able to consciously choose to respond in some way other than voice, eye blinks or limb movements. “New research suggests that an electrophysiologic screening tool can identify people with severe brain injuries who are likely to be covertly conscious.” This implies that a person’s soul (whatever one wishes to call an immaterial, personal being) has control over the body and the brain.

Like rats, you brain may contain ‘time cells’ that help form long-term memories (Science Daily). In the hippocampus of your brain, cells are able to time-stamp your memories before stashing them in long-term storage in compressed form. The time stamp includes not only when an event occurred, but your perception of how long it occurred. Sathesan Thavabalasingam at the University of Toronto explains how this works:

“You can’t have a memory of an event without having some sort of experience of how long it took place. It’s important to better understand how the brain processes the entire timeline of an experience, and how that’s being represented in long-term memories,” he says.

The human brain works backwards to retrieve memories (Medical Xpress). Researchers at the Center for Human Brain Health found some things about how we retrieve memories.

They found that, when retrieving information about a visual object, the brain focuses first on the core meaning—recovering the ‘gist’ – and only afterwards recalls more specific details.

This is in sharp contrast to how the brain processes images when it first encounters them. When we initially see a complex object, it’s the visual details—patterns and colours—that we perceive first. Abstract, meaningful information that tells us the nature of the object we’re looking at, whether it’s a dog, a guitar, or a cup, for example, comes later.

Why apes can’t talk: our study suggests they’ve got the voice but not the brains (Jacob Dunn, The Conversation). This writer, even though he is a Darwinist, mentions and demolishes several theories for the origin of language. Among them are the theory that animals lack the anatomy to vocalize, or that the FOXP2 gene mutated and gave humans the ability to speak. No; continued experiments with other primates show that the human brain is the most important factor. Darwin himself acknowledged that back in 1871. Dunn claims some association with brain size and vocalization in primates, but never mentions the issue of semantic (meaningful) content in speech, which is unique to humans.

It’s not your fault — Your brain is self-centered (Science Daily). Self-referential bias appears to be built into our brains. Researchers at Duke University showed through experiments with memory games that participants’ brains were tuned to quickly and automatically detect references to themselves, even when there’s no logical reason or benefit. Is this a benefit or a moral deficit? The researchers didn’t speculate.

The brain’s capabilities are awesome and intriguing, but they are like tools and servants at our disposal. We have the experience of managing our brains, and commanding it to do things for us. For example, try to remember a name. Concentrate on it for awhile, then turn your attention elsewhere. Many times, the answer will pop up shortly thereafter, as if it took time to do a keyword search in your brain’s storage. The brain is not the soul, however, and our souls are responsible for how we use these marvelous gifts our Creator gave us.

 

 

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