Monday, March 8, 2010

Nuerons Shape Civilization

In this video Ramachandran explains one aspect of of the human brain works. He explains that the brain is a three pounds of tissue that can contemplate vastness, interest of space, the meaning on infinity, and the meaning of its own existance. He explains that in order to study brain activity yo can do one of two things; study patients with legions in parts of their brais and record the activy, or physically add electrods into different parts of the brain and monitor invdividual nerve cells.

He then begins to talk about a specific neuron called Mirror Neurons. These neurons are stimulated when a person performs a certain activity, but they are also stimulated when that person watches someone perform that same activity. It is as if the neurons are adopting the other persons point of view as if its a "virtual reality stimulation." Ramachandran talks about the connection between neurons and culture. He describes culture as simple things like the use of fire, tools, shelter and language. He describes that these exaples of culture spread horizontally (from person to person) and also vertically )from generation to generation.)

If the same neurons are stimulated when you view someone being touched, why isnt your brain confused and you also feel like youre being touched?
Ramachand expains that when you are touched the receptors in your skin send another signal to your brain, which makes you feel the touch you recieve. He then speaks about the phantom limb we spoke about in class. If a person injects their arm to numb it, and view someone being touch, then that person will also have the sensation of being touched. Since the receptors in the skin are taken away, it dissolves the barrior between two people. If someone with a phantom limp feels pain in that area, if they watch another person being massages they will also feel it because of the lack of receptors. The brain is aborbing the information thats being seen. This concept makes everyone connected by neurons.

I don't think people the brains of those with phantom limbs are necesarily being "confused" by the lack of skin receptors. I think the brain is compensating for a stimulation it once had, and is now lost. As if muscle memory is stimulation the feeling just as the skin receptors once did.

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