Column Chronicles
Tracking thoughts in the brain
Frank Cotolo
August 22, 2019
Scientists have been studying the brain for as long as their brains have been working and this year is no different. Advanced technology has helped studying human brain processes such as the journey of a thought through the brain.
"It's electrical activity," says one researcher, "with neurons through the cortexes. That is, by the way, the title of my new book on the subject - Neurons Through The Cortexes. We can trace that stuff with a computer program."
Another researcher describes the journey of a thought this way: "It is provoked by a reaction to a word. The prefrontal cortex must define the word before it goes into the frontal cortex or else the thought dies an awful death."
The digital program reveals that thoughts must go through a process so fast it sometimes makes the eyes of a person roll.
"It is a coordinative effort between the cortex, which captures the neurons and moves it along," says another researcher. "It doesn't always move it along quickly enough and the person thinking may fall down."
More complex thoughts usually move in pairs, carrying more neurons than a wheelbarrow filled with M & Ms. This may become strenuous for the brain and affect motor areas, causing traffic accidents if the person is driving at the time of thinking.
"This is why we are studying people who can juggle," says another researcher. "Their thoughts are concentrated while trying to keep six or seven or more things in the air. The brain must coordinate the movements and shoot the thoughts that keep the juggling going, else all of the pins will fall and the juggler will be laughed at by the audience."
Other complex tasks can only work when thoughts are swifter than the actual action, according to another researcher. "Our thoughts need to combine, coordinate, conspire and commingle so rapidly that a person cannot consciously do what the brain does on its own. By the way, that is the title of my new book on the subject of thought speed - Combine, Coordinate, Conspire And Commingle."
If you need to get an idea of how quickly the brain must process a thought, try the following experiment:
Hold two eggs in your hand. Toss one of the eggs into the other hand while lifting your left leg. Assuming your free hand catches the egg you tossed, put your left leg down and lift your right leg. Then, drop the egg from either hand and try to catch it before it hits the ground while putting both legs in the air.
Then you will realize the speed of a thought.
Frank Cotolo can be found hosting the talk and interview programme Cotolo Chronicles. You can send him an e-mail at this address:
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