Monday, October 13, 2008

Perhaps the Idea of Organic Hierarchy is the Problem

I've been reading about brain plasticity, a topic fascinating to me, but ... uh ... perhaps not so interesting to other people. That grey goo up there in your head? It "knows" so many things! Even more impressive, the brain can improvise when little bits of it get injured. Wow. No wonder scientific culture has elevated the brain to top dog status in the hierarchy of human organs.

Traditionally, the heart is king of the organs, and it's true that the heart has its own little brain, its own customs and behaviors that are as marvelous as the brain. In fact I prefer the heart at the top of the pyramid of organs.

Oh but I am enjoying learning about the quivering, mushy, wrinkly mass that lies just behind the eyes, sending and receiving its tiny bolts of lightning, making decisions and sending those decisions back down the spinal column all day and night. Very cool!


Steve said...

Brains are truly amazing. The thing that fascinates me is memory. How do chemicals and electrical impulses in neurons translate into memories? It just blows my mind. (So to speak.)

Not long ago I went to hear a doctor and Zen practitioner speak about the plasticity of stem cells, how they can become anything in the body and can, in fact, revert from one kind of cell to another if need be. He likened it to the Buddhist concept of being free of permanent characteristics -- we're ALL plastic, in many ways!

willow said...

Fascinating stuff, grey matter. Handsome reflection of your dog~!

hele said...

Have you ever read Oliver Sacks?

Reya Mellicker said...

Jake is very plastic in the pic.

Yes I adore Oliver Sacks' work. He is so humane, and brilliant, too.

And yes, Steve, yes, we are all completely plastic, head to toe!

tut-tut said...

Plasticity as a concept is very intriguing, no? I've got lots to comment on things you've said, and will do so later this week.

Barbara Martin said...

Science about the brain is intellectual; and then, there is the soul.

hele said...

Me too, he taught me that each brain adapts to itself and life in its own unique way. This perspective has gone a long way to conquering my fear of change outside of my control.

I think my favorite part of the brain is the reptilian one. It seems that all of history might well dance there.