Wednesday, 5 November 2008

I visited this article at Nova Online,Rodolfo Llinas of the New York University School of Medicine talks about the rhythm of electrical oscillations of the brain.

"Llinás: Neurons like one another very much. They respond to one another's messages, so they basically chat all day, like people do in society. "Where can I park?" "How much is it going to cost?" "Am I going to get a ticket?" One set of neurons talks to another set of neurons, and they talk back, so we have a dialogue between different components in the brain. And the dialogue is not between one cell and another cell, but rather between many cells and many other cells. It's like having a huge number of people holding hands, dancing together, making ever-changing circles and organized together in such a way that every cell belongs, at some time, to some circle. It's like a huge square dance. Each dancer belongs to a particular movement at a particular time. "

I love this imagery he has given me of the brain. The interview continues:

"NOVA: And there's music that keeps them all dancing together?

Llinás: Right. It's generated by the neurons themselves. Neurons have an intrinsic rhythm, a bit like a hum. They generate this electrical dance at a given frequency because they have similar rhythms—they hum in unison. But as in the case of choirs and dancing, you can have two groups doing different things at the same time. Now imagine that each group doing something represents an aspect of an external event, like a color. "

And it's this part which really grabbed me :

"Llinás: Imagine I have a little bird on my hand. I can see the bird. I can see its color. I can see its shape. I can hear it sing. I can feel its weight on my hand. It might peck me. All of these things occur simultaneously, so we say that the bird has those properties. But all those properties are put together in different parts of the brain. So one wonders how the brain makes a collage of all these sensory inputs to generate one single precept—the bird—out of all the different sensory systems activated. This is called the binding property. Since we don't know for sure how it works, we call it the binding problem."

I look at the photo of that little golden chick. The 'bird' emerges from my emotive memory. The photo has opened the door to an emotive memory where a collage of all these sensory inputs have turned a key.

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