The human brain contains key information about our Evolution
Weighing about kilo and a half but it keeps all the secrets of our evolution. In the brain are the answers to the questions we ask about the milestones and significant events that have led us to what we are today, after millions of years of evolution: the pedigree of the evolution of species.
The human brain is the result of the evolution of millions of years from the brain structure of reptiles The most primitive part of the brain of Homo sapiens is the brain stem or reptilian brain that is connected to the top of the spinal cord.
There is nothing created by man that can remotely approach the complexity, plasticity and strength of the human brain.
The brain is the control center for intelligence, feelings, memory, spirituality and consciousness of those who have been, are and possibly will be.
In the brain lies the essence of who we are as a person, our feelings about life and the nature of death, our memories, our sense of time helps us predict possible outcomes in future based on past experiences to help us make better decisions.
These 11 questions, partly answered by scientists with their current understanding of the mind partially uncover the mystery of the human brain:
1. How the neuronal activity of the brain encodes information?
Neuronal activity is simply the transmission of an electrical impulse through the connections or synapses of the neural network the brain. At the end of the tour, the electrical impulse causes a local chemical change in a remote point of origin that caused this impulse.
These impulses or electrical spikes last merely milliseconds.
2. How it is stored and memory stored in the brain recovers?
When you learn something new, such as color or odor of something, someone’s name it creates physical changes in the human brain structure. It is not fully know how these changes occur apart from new neuro pathways being created. We are still uncertain of the actual physical process by which we are able to recover information that was there for many years. There have even been cases of people remembering events or places that they have never even been too.
There are several types of memory; long term memory, short term memory, declarative memory (data and information) and non-declarative memory (reading, driving a motorcycle, swimming).
Theories suggest that storage memory depends on synapses or connections between neurons and brain cells. The experience would strengthen the connections between various information, for example odor, color, taste and warm feeling of a cup of hot chocolate. This means that the smell of chocolate activate while the previous operation caused by the experience and immediately would associate the smell with other sensory feelings of hot chocolate. Essentially, this suggested that the more senses we apply to a particular task the better we will remember it.
3. What is the activity “base” of the human brain?
The human brain accounts for 2% of human body weight but consumes 20% of the oxygen consumed by the body; in the chimpanzee this parameter reaches 10%. Besides an increase in intellectual activity, such as doing a report or studying a lesson, it does not produce a significant increase in oxygen consumption. The brain at rest (baseline) consumes almost as much energy as when we are engaged in intense intellectual activity. Part of the activity carried out by the brain during rest is to restructure and process the stored information.
We can say that when we are awake our brain activity is almost the same as when we are sleeping. The only difference is the absence of external stimuli.
4. How does our brain simulate the future?
Predicting the future is perhaps the most important function of the brain. The brain not only devotes resources to process stimuli but produces the stored information, sets standards in order to develop predictive models that help in making decisions. Perception is generated from incoming data through the sensory system match the expectations created by the predictive model of the brain.
5. What are emotions?
We think of the brain as the information processing system however over and above just processing we have our emotions our feelings, motivations, fears, hope, envy, sadness and joy.
Emotions are physical responses to stimuli. They can be quantified by measuring the increase in heart rate or sweating or observing the face you put. The expression of basic emotions in all mammals are similar.
Emotions are the result of the model of the brain and becomes the plan of action that the brain sends us to tell us how we should react. Our reactions and emotions to certain situations are based mainly on past experiences or other influences like stories from parents/teachers or even fictional stimuli like electronic media.
Errors in the function of the brain is what generally causes emotions disorders, depression is the most common. Aggression and violence are also consequences of an emotion out of control.
6. What is intelligence?
Intelligence is manifested in many different ways, whilst there are tests to determine someone’s intellectual and emotional intelligence. We still do not have a complete test available that encompasses all aspects of intelligence. This could be because the entire scope of intelligence is yet to be understood.
Even artificial Intelligence has a long way to go. With the lowering of the cost of computing and data storage; Big Data and international competition. We are surrounded by robots that can assume many human tasks. This does not equate to actual intelligence though.
Intelligence is not based on a single mechanism or a single neuronal brain area. What we call intelligence is really the heart and essence of Homo sapiens. Other species are not equipped to solve complex problems like human beings. However they still posses a certain level of intelligence and seem to experience a deeper connection with their own species.
7. How is the time represented the brain?
The brain needs to synchronize different signals that arrive at very different speeds.
For example although our auditory system processes signals much faster than the visual system; when we see and hear simultaneous processes, for example clapping hands, the brain applies tricks to introduce the two events simultaneously.
Sometimes you can lose time synchronization, eg dyslexia is caused by a problem of neuronal synchronization.
8. Why the human brain sleeps and dreams?
A third of our life is spent sleeping. A permanent state of wakefulness leads to insanity. Rodents die after 10 days without sleep.
Sleep is essential for the brain to function properly.
Some of the reasons are:
A) Sleep is restful, saves and restores our energy reserves.High neural activity during sleep suggests that there could be a whole lot of other important activity that takes place during sleep that we are not even aware or unable to explain just yet.
B) Sleep allows the brain to perform simulations of conflict to propose solutions and then test them in real life situations.
C) Sleep plays a key role in the process of development and learning. During sleep we consolidate memories and delete irrelevant or insignificant details. It is during sleep that brain strengthens and creates new neuro pathways.
During REM sleep, the brain is storing and filing away information in an organized manner that creates our long-term memory.
9. How we coordinate and integrate the various specialized brain systems?
Structurally and at first glance, no differences were observed between the different parts of the brain. However electrical activity shows significant differences in different regions or hemispheres of the brain.
Experts tell us that the adult brain is so divided like a world map; each country would come to represent an area of neuronal activity classified. The brain is like massive network divided into sub-networks with each of these networks all being interconnected we each other. It’s almost like the Internet.
We still do no fully understand the speed of information processing in the brain. Whilst the electrical transfer is not considerably fast with an electrical peak via axons and myelin (20 cm / sec) we can recognize a shape, smell or sound almost instantly. Our brain is also infinitely faster and more reliable at facial recognition that the most advanced computers of today.
The brain performs many processing operations in parallel and simultaneously. The brain is incredibly fast when analyzing the results of all the parallel processes to provide a single output or outcome and again it is much faster than the fastest man made parallel computing computers.
10. What is consciousness?
Think of the first time we went to a football field or the first time you started a car. Where did that memory come from and where was the the image before being aware of the question. It was stored in the unconscious mind. The brain stores the information in the unconscious and extracts the information and bring it in consciousness when required.
11. Is there light at the end of the tunnel?. The last riddle of the human mind
The near-death experiences, told by people who have suffered a heart attack or have been close to death, are full of anomalies: the dying perceive their consciousness away from his own body, see a black tunnel with a light at the end. They often feel surrounded by spirits, angels or ghosts; and often it has a sense of fulfillment and happiness.near-death experience
These stories are collected in hospitals around the world. Usually interpretation is done from a mystical, religious, paranormal approach and neurobiologists have been working to incorporate them into their academic studies.
For example, the perception of being in a tunnel, can be explained by failures in peripheral vision due to reduced oxygen concentration in the brain. This is just an one example and science is still trying to explain many aspects of death. Unfortunately, this still remains very much a mystery.