Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 31st, 2010

Research on brain or mind: How done? 

I attended a session of TEDx talk in Awkar (Lebanon).  The meeting started around 10 pm and ended at 1:30 am.  And we watched several TED talks on brain research and language.  The discussion and the friendly association inspired this article.

Since the Italian Galvani’s experiments on reactions of frog to electrical impulses in the 18th century, study on brain functions basically relied on binary (on/off) activities of neurons and nerves.

Currently, experiments are done using non-intrusive tools and techniques such as photo-voltaic (light) energy impulses.  The pores of particular axons in network of neurons and synapses in insects are activated by the light; the insect is thus programmed to behave as lights go on/off.

Research is focusing on selecting specialized network of neurons that can be activated and programmed so that particular functions of the brain are localized and controlled.  This strategy says: “let us investigate sets of neuron networks with definite functions.  As more networks are identified then, extrapolating procedures might shed better lights on how the brain function”.

It seems that this strategy in research is adopted frequently among teams of neuro-scientists.

Basically,  although the brain does not function as current computers do (advanced computers are being tested, working on living organisms such as bacteria that are programmed with artificial intelligence rules), the brain and nervous systems are activated in binary modes as computer by surges of energy impulses.  Hormones (chemical compounds) in body activate and deactivate neurons for particular functions in the brain and the body.

I like to suggest a complementary strategy for neuron research based on investigating pairs of hormones as a guiding program.

The idea is to mapping particular pairs of hormones, among the hundred of them, that are specialized in firing and cancelling out stimulus for activating certain tasks.

The next step is to construct a taxonomy for all the tasks and functions of the body and then regrouping the tasks that share the same network of neurons activated by particular pairs of hormones.

The set of tasks for a pair of hormones do not necessarily engage a direct function: they may be accessory and complementary to a function such as controlling, maintaining, decision, motor, feedback critics, actors, learning…

The variety of hormones correspond to different external senses, internal senses, and special nervous structures and molecular cells in the body and the brain.    The number of hormones is countable, but combinations of pairs of (on/off) hormones are vast. I suppose that a hormone might be playing a valid role in several tasks while its opposite hormones might be different for other sets of tasks.

I have this strong impression that research on animals and insects are not solely based on moral grounds or ethical standards.  The practical premises are that animals are far more “rational” in their “well-behaved” habits than mankind.  And thus, experiments on mostly male insects (even female insects have more complex behaviors and body instability) are more adequate to logical designs.

The variability (in types and number) in experimenting with particular animal species are vastly less systematic than experimenting with mankind:  For one thing, we are unable to communicate effectively with animal species and we have excuses to hide under the carpet our design shortcomings.

I think there is a high positive correlation between longevity in the animal kingdom and level of “intelligence”.

Species that live long must have a flexible nervous systems that rejuvenate, instead of the mostly early hard-wired nervous systems in short-lived species.

Consequently, the brains of long-lived species are constantly “shaking”, meaning cogitating and thinking when faced with new conditions and environments.

Mankind observed the short-lived species (with mostly hard-wired nervous systems) and applied control mechanisms on societies based on those “well-behaving” animals for control and organization models of communities of mankind.  

It is of no surprise that control mechanisms on human societies failed so far in the long-term:  Man is endowed with a brain shaking constantly and rejuvenating most of his nervous cells and submit but momentarily to control mechanism, long enough to subdue a community for many years.

Note:  You may read my article on bacteria running supercomputers on https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/bacteria-running-supercomputers-how/

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adonis49

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