Understanding the Relationship between the Mind and the Brain.
We all have heard the terms â€œUse your Mindâ€ or â€œUse your Brainâ€. These sayings are used interchangeably yet the mind and the brain are two different things. Our brains are part of our central nervous systems located in our skulls which are part of our heads. It includes two cerebral hemispheres which are two parallel masses of deeply furrowed tissue.
Also part of the brain includes a brain stem and cerebellum. The functions of the brain include; muscle control and coordination of our bodies, sensory reception and integration, speech production, memory storage and the elaboration of thought and knowledge.
The mind is the term used for describing the higher functions of the brain. This includes those things we humans do that are subjectively conscious such as personality, thought, reason, memory, intelligence and emotion.
Although other species have mental capacities it is the mind that is associated specifically with humans and their higher brain functions such as intelligence. However when there is damage to the brain it can affect our cognitive abilities as well as physical capabilities.
The term â€œmindâ€ is however also ascribed to those people with super natural endowments such as esp. and telepathy. For some the mind is a reference to those things in the supernatural realm. It could be a supernatural being with human qualities. An example would be the expression â€œthe mind of Godâ€ meaning those thoughts keeping in the vein with our perception of what â€œgodâ€ would think as he is represented to us.
In simple terms the brain is physical while the mind is not. The mind
is a non physical entity while the brain is a concrete physical piece of grey matter. The brain is the concrete matter and the mind is how it operates. There is a debate however, whether the electrical activity that occurs in the brain is the mind. Included in the debate also is the question â€œDoes the brain give way to create the mind independently which is shown as electro biochemical activity?". This is a philosophical question that is grounded in the world of empirical science.
The inference is that the mind can indeed be seen through the various machines that monitor the electro biochemical activity in which the brain waves are recorded as result of stimulation in the brain that is produced biochemically.
Brainwaves are patterns of electrical activity in the brain. They can be measured by a machine known as an EEG. EEG stands for electroencephalogram. An EEG is a graphical record of electrical activity of the brain; produced by an electroencephalograph. Electrodes are attached to the scalp in order to record the electrical activity that is produced by the brain.
Brainwaves can be observed when a person is sleeping, having a seizure, in a coma, concentrating or even meditating. People can consciously learn to change their brain wave patterns through neurotherapy. Neurotherapy is much like an EEG scan except the activity recorded is filtered through a computer. Through the filtering process we can see areas of the brain that are affected in specific ways by measuring brainwaves that are fast and those that are slower than others.
The slow brainwaves are then separated from the fast ones. Everyone needs a balance between the slow and fast brainwaves. Areas of the brain that are not in balance are then analyzed so they can be worked on with the therapist and the patient. I will discuss the brain waves in a separate chapter.
The brain is actually soft nervous tissue. What happens is that it responds to various stimuli which in turn activates sets of bio chemical reactions in the brain. When the brain is stimulated bio chemically, the reaction then spreads out through the rest of the central nervous system. The mind is the abstract non tangible part of a person that enables them to be aware of the world around them as they experience it. It is the faculty of consciousness and thought.
They physical reactions of the brain and central nervous system cause the mind to work. Things that happen to us trigger responses that stimulate the mental capacity of the mind. The occurrences we experience are subjective based on the physical responses that happen in the brain to begin with.
Thanks to strides in neuroscience in the later part of the 20 century; science has learned how to actually see how thoughts play out in our brain through magnetic imaging. The magnetic imaging devices are able to show activity in different parts of the brain. Science knows what part of the brain does what function so they point to what is known as epiphenomenalism
in regards to the mind. Epiphenomenalism is the idea that human consciousness is actually the effects of neural activity in the brain. Scientists further hypothesize that if you can see the activity in the brain with magnetic imaging in regards to thoughts then thought must occur in the brain with that activity.
Although it is a sound scientific answer it still does not address where the thoughts we have are formulated.
It appears from all the research that conscious thought is like a byproduct of the activity as it occurs in the brain. As the brain is stimulated and bio chemical reactions occur; different thoughts and actions are released by us consciously.
An analogy would be like the brain is letting off steam from the activity it physically produces and a thought is then released. There are however other points that
science still questions in regards to epiphenomenalism. It still doesn't accept completely that chain of activity occurring in the brain causes the thoughts to go firing off in the first place.
Science still is trying to figure that point out. Because actual thought cannot be seen by the eye they still are not sure exactly from a scientific view point what a thought actually is.
The brain functions in simple terms by sending electrical signals from one place to another through the central nervous system down to other parts of the body. While the signals are being transmitted very small charges pass between nerve cells. What accompanies the nerve cells changes are electrical potential in voltages.
The brain activity is both measured and displayed as a wave which comes from the brain. This is obviously called a brain wave or brain rhythm. The wave's height is the measure of potential difference and the frequency measures the rate at which the electrical impulses pass through a nerve cell or fiber. Depending on the wave activity determines our level of conscious or unconscious thought.
We can see from the brain waves that a person's brain is indeed active all the time. This includes when one is asleep and when one is awake. The brain waves are distinct based on the changes of conscious we experience and are grouped as such. Our mind is not uniform. It operates in two distinct modes. This is what is referred to as the Bipartite mind.
Our thinking part of our minds called â€œour thinking selvesâ€ executes what is voluntary knowledge based ideas such as plans, goals and strategies. Our â€œautomatic selvesâ€ acts like an internal robot for us. It drives our involuntary aspect of our mental makeup. This includes behaviors we display automatically.
Most of the times these two parts of our selves work harmoniously in parallel to one another. An example would be our thinking self would create a story to tell and the non verbal parts of
communication such as facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures and things of that nature will also be executed while telling the story which is automatic. Thus both parts of the mind are functioning at the same time in order for us to tell a story.
The human brain in and off its self weighs approximately 3 pounds. It is estimated to have 100 billion cells. To really understand the complexity of the brain we can look at it in comparison to this. If we took â€œallâ€ the telephones on the planet and combine their wires; all the connections that those entail one day would not equal the complexity and activity of the human brain in a day.
Keep in mind that there are 4 billion phones on this planet. Now let's look at what happens to the brain when there is brain interference or an injury based on the above analogy. Imagine every phone was broken in your home state and the wires were cut. This is how brain interference or an injury to it can be compared to. Because of the complex circuitry of the brain, if one is to recover from such interference or injury it takes years usually.
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