How does the brain think?

Discuss

19 Responses to “How does the brain think?”

  1. robotnik says:

    That really IS awesomesaucy!

  2. Maybe the brain doesn’t think, any more than any other part of the universe, anyway.

  3. I took the liberty of recording my own thought processes to a visually-comprehensible medium. Hopefully this clears things up.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5BdyIGtYcg

  4. alexdino says:

    This would be totally awesomesauce, if David Eagleman wasn’t a total hack.  He’s a celebrescientist, and not the good kind like Sagan or Bill Nyu.  He tries to fill the lack of productive research in his publication record (which mostly consists of sparse data and wild claims) by making him self a pop science celebrity.  Please don’t give him another platform on which to spew his ego.

    • Jayarava says:

      Meh. I’ve never heard of him, and anyone who can give an answer like that to a a question like that from a 5 year old shows obvious merits. Science is an eco-system and popularises are an important niche. We could do with more science celebrities and less of the pointless celebrity celebrities.

  5. Well, the brain is basically a wrinkled bag of skin filled with warm water, veins, and thought muscles. Think of it as a kind of modified heart, only with a mind or brain.

  6. His response reminds me strangely of The Perspex Machine (the work of James Anderson, of “nullity” infamy.)

  7. lorq says:

    Can anyone point me to specific articles/books/researchers examining this idea of the mind as a theater for “virtual motor movement”?  I’ve entertained a notion like this for some time — informally, as a layperson — and would enjoy learning about formal research in this area.

  8. Jonathan Colvin says:

    sounds like an oversimplification so gross as to be useless.

  9. Gerald Mander says:

    Cogito cogito, ergo cogito sum. 

  10. Jayarava says:

    This is certainly an interesting way of putting it. There is some evidence that this is at least part of how we think – compare “mirror neurons” and “canonical neurons”. And the whole “embodied cognition” idea makes it seem that how we think, and how we use metaphors, is very much influenced by how we physically interact with the world. 

    Given that the questioner is 5 years old he did well to give her something to ponder that was most likely within her grasp and not too simplistic or obviously wrong.

    I’d also like to point out that this scientists prefaces his question with an admission of ignorance, and makes a suggestion as to one possible answer without claiming any absolute knowledge and without any hint of superiority. I still regularly interact with people who’s picture of scientists is that they are authoritarian know it alls; dictators of what we should think and believe with no tolerance for uncertainty and no sense of mystery.  Whereas I think Eagleman seems like a good representative of the profession.

  11. Richard says:

    I don’t know if Eagleman is a “total hack” or not but a while back I heard a fascinating interview with him on a fiction book he wrote on afterlife and I have to say, he’s got a spectacular imagination. This is great piece of radio:

    http://onpoint.wbur.org/2009/02/27/envisioning-the-afterlife

  12. I can tell how the brain works. Your brain has about 11 billion neurons. Each one gets a vote.

  13. kiptw says:

    There used to be a feature called “Junior Editors’ Quiz” in our paper (and others). It was drawn by Coulton Waugh for years, and had interesting questions and good answers. I considered asking “How do we think?” but never sent it in.

    Then Waugh was gone, and his replacement looked like an assistant from a Dennis the Menace comic backup feature, and all the questions began to be in the form “What is [a/an] ______?” Where the blank was filled in with some boring everyday noun that could be identified with thirty seconds at a dictionary. I was glad when the feature went away for good, so I wouldn’t keep being reminded of its better days.

  14. billstreeter says:

    My brain thinks it was sick of the word “awesomesauce” the very first time it heard it. 

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