Thursday, November 22, 2012

What is the mind?

Some people compare the brain to a computer, making some separation when talking about mind and brain; if the brain is the hardware, then the mind is the software.


For several neuroscientists the mind is considered as the “personalization”
of the brain, a concept that defends that brain’s functions such as feelings, thoughts, problem-solving and communicating (amongst others) create the
mind itself. And for those scientists, this is considered as a "two-way path" as the mind itself also constructs the brain since feelings, thoughts, experiences and memories that are part of the "self" also change the brain structure and functions.

Let's focus on this precise moment; along the reading of this post, your brain is changing. Brain cells (neurons) are being reorganized  to take in the information, considering its relevance and deciding whether to keep it or not in terms of learning purposes. Along this process new brain networks and connections will be formed. Keeping this "two-way path" concept, you can notice that while reading this piece, your thoughts and actions may also provoke change the brain - for instance, if a certain word has grabbed the focus of your attention, your brain will answer to that.

It is true that we can not control everything in our mind or in our brain, but we should understand that the choices we make will affect our brain and that our brain can learn anything. 


Apart from discussing the bounderies for brain and mind, Michael Gazzaninga (Director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, UCBA) refered on his presentation at ISPA, Lisbon (Nov, 2 - 2012) 
" (...) we now understand neurons and neurotransmitters a bit more, but somehow the mental properties are indivisible and can’t be described in terms of neuronal firings. We need to  conceptualize human architecture as a layered brain/mind interaction that still needs plenty of studies."