Any topic involving study of brain or any of its function is interesting, intriguing and infinitely puzzling.
This half to one KG meat in our species is an unsolved mystery.
So discussing any topic connected with brain, mind, conscious awareness, thinking, memory etc most of which form part of , if we can loosely call it , neuroscience .
In this subject there is no final statements can be made by anyone irrespective of whichever approach they have opted for- scientific, structural, anatomical, biochemical, genomic, psychiatric, philosophical, spiritual, occult, scriptural rant etc.
In my humble view almost all functions of the brain in totality defies most of the explanations.
Probably some functions can be explained or explained away.
I have been reading many books and trying to understand it and also through interactions, thanks to internet even with some of the leading evolutionary biologist.
Long back I bought a few encyclopedias on Mind, Psychology etc. Some of them must be with me and went about trying to lay my hands on as many of the reference books mentioned there, restricted by whatever was available at British Council library and Adyar Theosophical society library.
Many scholars spiritual and intellectual before the scientist have also tried to decipher the workings of various aspects, parts of human brain. Then later on scientist gave excellent explanations.
Starting from Adi Shankara to swami Vivekananda to Huxley to Bertrand Russell to J. Krishnamurthy to Colin Wilson to Le Comte Nuoy to Guy Murchie to Steven Pinker to Cral Jung to neuro scientist Ramachandran to name a few have helped me to enlarge my understanding about various workings of the brain.
Once a Harvard professor suggested me to read ‘How the mind works’, which I did read and enjoyed every bit of it. I asked him ‘can you suggest some book on ‘How to make it work’. He said jokingly ‘had I known I would not be teaching at Harvard nor talking to you.’
In the excellent book which I am reading at present ‘The Brain Supremacy-Notes from the Frontiers of neuroscience’- KATHLEEN TAYLOR starts off
“Science and technology are also changing their nature—and ours.”
“Brain research is already changing our sense of what being human involves, rejecting the age-old idea of a spiritual essence in favour of an organic approach. This is what the feared materialism of modern science tells us. Brains are the pieces of meat which give us our selves, allowing you and me to exist as the people we are. Without them there would be no music, beauty, poetry, or science. There would be no vicious murder or despairing suicide either; but also no joy of sex, no delight in nature, no pleasure in getting lost in a really good book.
Everything meaningful in your life and mine needs a cranial pudding to express itself, and each of those puddings is unique, irreplaceable and still mysterious. Brains are astonishing, beautiful, intricate, delicate marvels. Like human lives, they are good things in and of themselves.
If you were ill, and needed a heart transplant to save your life, would you accept one? Most people would; they feel that having a different heart wouldn’t disrupt their sense of personal identity. How about a brain transplant? If your brain were removed and put into storage to make room for a new, younger cerebrum, would you be in the body or in the storage? What if all your former synaptic settings were copied across to the new brain? Or if only part of it—the cortex—were transplanted? These thought-experiments and others suggest that we identify ourselves with our brains in a way we don’t with other parts of our bodies. Practical experiments, ethical and otherwise, suggest that we are right to do so. We can swap hearts, lose a kidney, cope without hands or eyes, and still be human, but remove the brain and what’s left is a kind of desecration: manmade meat.”
“The power of self-fashioning. As well as shaking up our ideas of what we are, the brain supremacy promises unparalleled techniques for changing brains directly: not with language or images or drugs, or new gadgets to play with, but by altering the behaviour of neurons and the function of their genes.
Of course, brain manipulation isn’t novel; we do it indirectly all the time and we always have. The social power which bends others to your will is so greatly valued that pursuing it is one of humanity’s great occupations.
With tongues and guns, ideals and incentives, persuasion and pressure and sheer propaganda, human beings have had a lot of practice in treating others, pace the strictures of Immanuel Kant, instrumentally: as means to an end, objects to be utilized and adjusted, rather than individuals who are ends in themselves. And the methods we use affect our brains and bodies. Drugs change your genes. So do stressful events, meals eaten, and conversations. Yet we often fail to achieve the changes we want. To date, attempts to control other human beings have faced a mighty obstacle: the bony castle of the skull. That barrier has never been invincible—bullets or an axe will penetrate it—but it has kept out many less violent and crude attacks. Barred from the inner sanctuary of the brain, we were left with the evolved skills of social interaction and the knowledge built upon them: psychology, anthropology, history, literature. That, plus rare neurological patients, years of detailed observation of human behavior, and what we had learned from studying the brains and behaviours of other species. The idea of an equivalent capacity to that of, say, modern chemistry applied to the management of other human beings is therefore a tremendously attractive prospect, particularly for those people and institutions tasked with managing or predicting human behaviour.”