Tuesday, August 05, 2008
This post will be referenced throughout the next several links. Take your time with this, but don't feel bad if you don't get it immediately...we will be looking at each section in depth.
Your brain works in feedback loops. Let's look at two.
A FULL THOUGHT
When you experience something through any of your five senses, this information enters the brain (cortex) in an electrical form. The information reaches the "relay station" of the brain...also known as the thalamus. The thalamus is the "relay station" because it is the site of the first feedback loop.
The thalamus sends an alerting signal to the cortex to prepare it for the information to follow. The cortex holds your memory in electrical form, so the thalamus is going to search your memory connected with the electrical impulse you just experienced from your senses in order to create "a full thought". The alerting signal actually creates your attitude...it finds out ahead of time if the memory is positive or negative and then the desired information in your memory is viewed with this attitude.
The electrical impulse you experienced from your senses and the electrical impulse(s) from your memory (along with the attitude) are then fed back to the thalamus (relay station). The first feedback loop is complete and results in "a full thought": an experience, a memory (or memories), and an emotion.
The thalamus sends the information to the chemical manufacturer of the brain...the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus creates chemicals in response to the information. These chemicals are based on your internal emotional state. The experience, memories, and emotion (full thought) are now completely tied together as a chemical.
This information is sent to the amygdala...something I have written about on this blog in the past. The amygdala is an almond shaped structure in the brain that stores all the emotional perceptions that have ever occurred every time a memory has been built...since the womb. So, memory and emotions are also tied together in the amygdala. The amygdala determines an emotional response. The response to this full thought is determined based on past emotional perceptions. The emotion and thought are filed away.
The amygdala is where the "emotional decision" is made. The amygdala has many more connections going to the cortex (logical decision) than the cortex has going to the amygdala...so the amygdala can overwhelm the cortex and prevent reasoning.
The amygdala is the cause of the "fight or flight" response. If it sends a negative message to the adrenal glands, adrenaline and cortisol are released which fogs the brain...and encourages the response: fight or flight. The amygdala can also initiate the release of positive chemicals if the emotion is positive.
The amygdala can overload the cortex electrically and fog the brain chemically.
All of this information...the information from your external world (reality), your internal response (perception), and your external response (actions) is then sent to the hippocampus in the form of a chemical...a physical molecule. This information is now in your short-term memory. This information is stored between 24 and 72 hours.
So far, everything that has been covered in this post happens whether you want it to or not. It happens naturally...it is in your nature. In order to complete the loop, an intentional decision has to be made...and the clock is ticking!
The decision: ignore the information in the hippocampus or deal with it?
This involves your corpus callosum.
Ignoring the information is a choice and causes the hippocampus to discharge the information as heat energy once the individual's unique ability to hold short-term memory has expired...and the information is consciously forgotten.
If you choose to intentionally deal with the information, the corpus callosum passes the information to your cortex to be filed away in your memory...and the second feedback loop is complete.
This summarizes how you consciously receive, process, respond to, and file away thoughts. There is a subconscious process occurring at the same time...
THE OTHER MEMORY
Remember, the amygdala acts as a "library" filing away every emotional perception you've ever created...whether you choose to be conscious of it or not. In fact, your brain and the cells in the rest of your body are in communication through chemicals called "neurotransmitters". This involves your hypothalamus, amygdala, etc.
The billions of cells of your body are covered with receptors, little receivers on the cell membrane. As the biochemicals flow over the cells, they look for the receptors they fit...like a key fits into a lock. When they find the right match, their specific receptor, they latch on it, transfer the information, and then bump off again.
This means not only your brain has memory, but all your cells have memory! Because of this cellular memory, and all the communication going on all the time between the cells of your body and brain, your body literally reflects your thought life.
These biochemicals make possible a conversation between the conscious cognitive level and the metacognitive (beyond conscious) level. In fact, these biochemicals are an effect of your emotions and thoughts. So, your emotions are literally cellular signals that transfer information into physical reality.
If we take a Big Picture view of this post, we see that electrical information in our cortex and emotional perceptions in our amygdala combine to determine the information that is sent to all of our cells. And since the ability to anticipate and change our emotional perceptions depends on how conscious we are of stimuli in the past, it seems that ultimately, our ability to store and access information is a primary cause to our ability to experience a positive emotion and deal with a negative emotion. How is information stored in the cortex?
The functional unit in your brain is a neuron. At the end of the neurons are branches called dendrites, highly complex structures involved in the process of continually receiving and integrating information coming via the five senses. The more branches there are, the more intelligent and accessible the thought will be. These thoughts are physically linked together to form a memory network. The measure of a strong memory network depends on the number of branches and how well they are connected to other neurons. Dr. Marion Diamond, a groundbreaking brain researcher, calls these memory networks the "magic trees of the mind".
Remember, the Greek word for "tree" in the Bible is "dendron". Remember, the Hebrew root word for "tree" in the Bible means "to fasten or make firm".
You make a conscious decision to make firm the actual event in your dendrites...to store it in your cortex (Long Term memory). Or you can decided to let it burn away and not make it firm in the trees of your brain...and the stress between what your brain doesn't know and what the rest of your entire body ends up resulting in chemicals and conditions that can lead to physical illness.
You can choose to retain this memory in your brain. You cannot choose to retain this memory in the rest of the cells of your body...every cell in your body (apart from your brain) retains a memory whether you want it to or not.
You have around 100 trillion magic trees in your brain, and each one is capable of growing up to 70,000 branches. This means you have approximately three million years' worth of storage space for information in your brain! You have plenty of memory to retain all the information in your brain.
You can choose to make everything firm in your brain and avoid the stress between your brain and the rest of the cells of your body.
Finally, let's complete this background discussion with an overview of "glial cells". You have 50 times more glial cells than neurons. Glial cells are essential to brain functioning. Without them, neurons would not be able to work properly. They provide all the support, resources, and back up, including nourishment and protection your neurons need to do all that hard work in receiving, analyzing, processing, and storing information.
Glial cells also operate as your brain cell's cleaners. They dispose of waste material generated by neuron functioning. They trim unused branches. In effect, the glial cells sort out your thinking. However, we will see that they can't do a good job unless you think clearly...
This explanation is the mechanical framework from which we will be able to explain how the Bible accurately tells us to improve our thought life and become more intelligent...or express our will not to reconcile our brain with the rest of our body and become less intelligent and open the door to physical ailments.