Neuroscience – the second in a series

How hot is a bowl of water? Take three bowls: one of cold water, one of hot water, one of lukewarm water. Soak your left and right hands in the hot and cold water respectively, then plunge them both into the lukewarm. To the left hand it feels cold, to the right hand it feels hot.

I used that thought experiment some months ago to reflect on the “short-cut” brain. It will help us again here as we continue our exploration of neuroscience.

No doubt when your science teacher invited you to try that experiment you were intrigued. But did he tell you that you had experienced a fundamental truth of biological nature? And did he go on to tell you that this truth reverberates through our existence and is intimately concerned with Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven? Probably not. But I shall in time repair the omission.

Indeed our systems are primarily tuned to measure and to react to change. In exploring this truth, I will follow up my promise, in my previous column, to explore why some 95 per cent of our day-to-day mental activity appears to be automatic – or subconscious.

Judging water temperature in a vacuum is hard, but judging it by comparing it with your previous experience is easy. Your left hand compared the lukewarm water with its previous state of hot water; and by comparison it felt cold. Over there my cat lurks lazily until something close within her vision suddenly moves – and she transforms into a primitive feline hunter. The detectors in her retinas light up with the sudden recognition of movement. And that car accident you just avoided today – did you notice that you reacted instantaneously and expertly but without thought, even before you felt that surge of adrenalin?

Nature is clever and efficient. Most of our life is spent in steady state and we scarcely notice the actions and decisions we make. Our physical and psychic reserves are saving themselves for the moment of change. And the major triggers are: danger to life, opportunity for food, and sex. Without instinctive response to these triggers our species would have become extinct millions of years ago – when we had only the primitive brain which still underlies our conscious thought today.

Rather than attempting an exhaustive list of the everyday states of our brains, it is easier to give some examples. If you walk into an unfamiliar room you will without thought survey its length and shape. You will note various objects and be able to assess their size and relative position. In other words you will read it subconsciously with a glance.  But a newborn baby cannot do that because it has no experience of such spaces and objects. Your analysis is only possible because of your stored experience.

We can take that further. Within a shared general assessment of that room we may not all see the same things. My friend, perhaps, will notice the chintzy curtains, while I notice the train set on the floor. There are studies which show that our brains may be responding to an object, or a happening, but we will not see it. Our efficient brain only attends to what it decides is relevant to us.

Consider a list of different kinds of people: university students, monks, teachers, mathematicians, poets, policemen. Each of those groupings throws up a stereotype with various characteristics which have been built up either through experience or imagination. Prejudice? Yes, certainly, but a necessary prejudice. It is the start point from which we can compare how the mathematician we meet differs from our expectation.

We store useful routines – which psychologists call schemas. For instance, the “restaurant” schema stores our expectations of being shown to a table, the waiter giving us a menu, and asking for orders etc. It is only variations from this schema which our brains need to notice. For instance we may develop a sub-schema for Japanese meals.

I make no apology for repeating the old story of the Jesuit and Dominican chain smokers. They agreed to ask their respective superiors for a solution to their problem of tobacco starvation while saying daily office. The Dominican failed and the Jesuit succeeded. Why? Because the Dominican asked if he could smoke while he prayed while the Jesuit asked if he could pray while he smoked. Two different comparisons, two different answers.

But this is only the beginning. We could look at habitual attitudes, the influence of early nurture or the effect of genes. Or experimental work that seems to show that our brain decides our actions a fractional second before we do. It will not be a surprise that some neuroscientists speak confidently of free will as an illusion. Since everything can be accounted for through the brain, what need is there for a conscious mind?

So my claim that these issues are intimately concerned with Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven is not exaggerated. What has eschatology to offer us if we are no more than the expression of material evolution, if the moral life has no meaning, and only death has dominion?

We will explore this further in due course. Meanwhile we will have many things to examine. Among them is the famous Phineas Gage, whose meeting with an iron bar gave a kick start to neuroscience.

Meanwhile, let’s discuss this. Your challenging questions or objections will be invaluable.

About Quentin

Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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37 Responses to Neuroscience – the second in a series

  1. Mr. John Falloon says:

    Neuroscience. You state:- ” our brain decides our actions a fractional second before we do”. How is our brain different from ” we “? I thought that our brain is part of “we”. What about the complete human being made up of body and soul. Is neuroscience saying that the brain is seperate from the body and that the soul is a figment of the imagination i.e. the brain. I’m getting thoroughly confused.

    • Quentin says:

      John, confusion is entirely appropriate here. Yes, many neuroscientists would argue that the whole of the human mind, including consciousness, is present in the biological structures of the brain. But even those who do so find themselves, somewhat apologetically, using language consistent with an ego which is in some sense separate from the mind and is able to review it.

      The problem they have given themselves to solve is how to account for, say, free actions and responsibility. This is difficult to do if you have no category for the spiritual which, by definition takes up no material space.

      In the case in question (which is still generally considered as controversial) the subjects in the study were required to note the exact point when they consciously chose to act. It was then shown that this point was preceded by the brain responses – with an interval of, say, 1/5 of a second. It was claimed that the brain unconsciously takes the decision, and our consciousness is merely a way of recording that the decision has been taken,

      • tim says:

        H’m. After taking the decision, they then have to take another one – namely, to register the time at which the decision was taken. That might account for the delay?

        In any case, I am not prepared to accept that the fact that someone hooked up to my brain can tell the world what decision I have made before I can, necessarily means that I didn’t make it freely.

  2. Nektarios says:

    John Candido
    Many thanks for the links you provided – interesting.
    I can see, that it does not take us beyond, what I said to Iona on Multimind aspect.

    We are still at the very early stages of neuroscience, but the western philosophical backdrop to their thinking is one of dividing the whole into functioning bits of the brain. And within the limits
    of technological mechanistic undertanding, cannot see the operation of the whole.
    It is possible to observe in totality, and necessary to do so, otherwise we are in for a very long time of neuroscientific observations of fragments and conjectures.
    I do not know how we can bring the two aspects together, or indeed if they want to?

    To Mr. John Falloon,
    I have not seen your name on the blog before, so a big welcome and hope you can benefit a little and I look forward to reading more of your postings on the this blog.

  3. Iona says:

    The experiment in which the “decision” to be made is to move one’s hand (or finger) at an instant of one’s own choosing is an unconvincing one in terms of our normal experiences of decision-making. Small physical actions, like moving a hand or finger, are normally tiny links in a chain of actions forming part of a much bigger decision. And actually, moving a finger in the context of this experiment is no exception. The bigger decision made by the experimental subjects was to co-operate with the experimenter’s request. Details of exactly when to move are subservient to the bigger decision, and are left to the part of the brain controlling movement.

  4. GMH says:


    “….In any case, I am not prepared to accept that the fact that someone hooked up to my brain can tell the world what decision I have made before I can, necessarily means that I didn’t make it freely….”

    I think this is the key. These experiments -which have become the darlings of the moment seem to be concerned with brain wave activity operating at some subliminal level. We don’t know what that phenomena indicates. As Iona states there are many levels of intentionality in any small act and some of the outworkings of a decision to co operate may just flow from the wider decision which was the one that required conscious mapping. That there are many levels in even the smallest decision can be observed in our strange tendency to run up the stairs two at a time at home and then try to remember why we were heading upward in the first place…. Often I have been defeated by the impetuous roamings of my lower limbs…they seem to carry me around the house at their whim. Anyone who has read Puckoon will see that Spike Milligan encountered the same trouble..
    In fact when one considers the case in detail one is forced to recognise that not only do ones extremities evade ones conscious control, but even ones consciousness seems determined to float around the ether, dwelling on all kinds of stuff about which we never intended to think in the first place and then causing the poor old limbs to flail about in a most alarming manner……

    • Quentin says:

      In my column I only mentioned the studies which purport to show that brain moves before conscious will in passing. You will find a good article at And, if you are a masochist, you will find a link there to a pertinent, recent study.

      • Mike Horsnall says:

        “…….Even with the above caveats, though, these findings are mind-boggling. They indicate that some activity in our brains may significantly precede our awareness of wanting to move. Libet suggested that free will works by vetoing: volition (the will to act) arises in neurons before conscious experience does, but conscious will can override it and prevent unwanted movements…..”

        Thanks for the link Quentin I did look it up. Most interesting is the blog debate that follows it -which is both intelligent and perceptive.

        I agree with Libet (see above) This seems to be in accord with the way neuronal nets work. Summation seems to ripple across a whole field of neural networks and produce a whole variety of physical possibilities which we then ‘conscously’ veto and act upon only one choice. Whole chunks of the nervous system are concerned with the ‘damping’ down of inputs from our internal physiology and this would seem to be an extension of the damping effect of higher centres.. This seems to me to accord with most of the neurological reaction I have read or observed and with the way in which the body decides a response to stimuli such as pain.I do honestly think that this whole bit about brain activity occurring before what we see as the ‘engagement’ of the will is a red herring. Sorry for the pseudonym by the way-its my wife’s computer!!

  5. Nektarios says:


    I read through your forward a few times, to try and grasp all your assertions.
    If I may, let me ask you and fellow-bloggers a question that is troubling me in all this
    experimental observations and interpretations thereof:
    What is learning?

    You see, learning has its own movement by which I mean, learning is doing.
    But, if one is saying, one must first have learnt before one can act, then one is not learning but accumulating and out of that accumulations acts or reacts.
    This is something very important to understand, because having learnt, and acting out of that accumulations is the very nature of the I, the me, the ego, the self, or whatever you want to call it.

    The I is the very essense of the past, colours the present and so on into the future, in this there is constant division.
    Where there is learning there is constant movement; there is no accumulation that can become I.

    If I may also consider the place of the neuroscientist and express my reservations about the dangers they can pose asyou are suggesting, Quentin.
    I wonder if you are aware, when we separate action from learning, then the observer comes between the learning and the action? Then he, the observer becomes important, then he uses action and learning for ulterior motives.
    Learning is a whole movement. The word whole, not only means healthy, but holy.
    So learning is holy, it is really a sacred thing, the beauty of which lies in iteself and not beyond it.

    • Quentin says:

      Nektarios, I am probably going to sell you short because I cannot see why this question should trouble you.

      Let me give you a very simplified example. If I came to stay with you in your home for the first time, I would learn the layout of your house. And then you would gently indicate to me your house rules (let’s suppose that you prefer people not to wear shoes in the house.) All this is learning and, in a short while, I would have become accustomed to it. Indeed I would scarcely advert to it directly. Nevertheless I would be using this learning to get around the house, and to behave in a way which was acceptable to you. So it is with much of our learning. What is the problem?

      • Nektarios says:


        You are accumulating, not learning as I sought to show.
        In your illustration, you are not only visiting ( that would be interesting), but receiving
        rules,(someone elses rules) Yes ? All that is accumulation not learning perse.
        You are saying in effct in your posting here, “one must first have learnt before one can act”, as I said in my posting.
        And acting out of that accumulations is the essense of the self, the I or the ego or whatever one wants to call it.
        My problem with the approach as outlined in your introduction to this Part 2
        is just this. Accumulating is not learning. Learning has its own movemnt and it is a total movement. where as what you are talking about is accumulating before you can act, and as a result
        it is full of divisions, fears and anxieties and not knowing how to act unless one having accumulated first. So there is my problem with what you have said.

  6. Quentin says:

    I think it would help if you were to give me your definition of learning. The OED gives a number of related senses, but the first one is: “gaining knowledge or skill by study, experience or being taught.” Would that be the definition that you favour — or do you have another definition that is commonly accepted, and not specific to you? If it is specific to you it will be necessary to set it out before we can usefully discuss.

  7. Nektarios says:

    The OED meaning as you can see is one of accumulation. No?
    I do not have a definition of learning that is specific to me, it is particular to all of us as human beings.
    Perhaps looking at the OED definition together something will emerge.
    On the face of it, the OED definition is one that is generally accepted what learning is. I maintain it is not learning but accumulation before one can act.
    What is experience? Is it not old, past, what we have acquired or been taught or studied and now stored in ones memory? That is acquiring. It is necessary if we are going to make a living, get a job, acquire a skill, then, please note, it then becomes repetitive. Once we have got the repetitive going, one is looking to make that repetitive learning action, skill, technology more efficient. All this is acquiring.

    You are taught what to learn, not how to learn, so then it is a matter of conditioning, mechanical and repetitive. It is a slow process. It has taken a long time, but we now have all sorts of technological advances that should make life easier for everyone, unfortunately as we all know, it doesn.t.
    Even in the religious life, this acquiring is going on. Necessary some would say. It is learning according to the OED, but it is just another form of accumulation.

    Is there another learning in all of us that is untouched by condtioning?
    We have been doing things the way we have since Adam I guess, We have learnt much, acquired much so we feel secure, but in fact never are, confident, but full of fear. Skilled but jobless,
    Religious but denying the power therof. We could go on in our efficiency in killing others with guns and bombs and chemical warfare. Our learning therefore exisits in the midst of Fear. Fear of not being secure, That is the sum total essentially for our accumulations we call learning.

    So I come back to my question is there a learning in all of us that is untouched by conditioning
    and fear and the ego, me, or what ever you want to call it?

    I said in my last posting, `learning has its own movement.’ It is a whole movement,
    Unlike the OED definition , it is a constant movement that goes on forever. The OED definition has an ending – once one has learned it becomes experience and one sits back on ones laurels till death arrives. The learning has ended.
    The learning we all have within us, never ends. For example, does ones hunger for God ever end? If eternity has no end, then so does learning I am talking about have no end either.
    The learning definition of the OED is not only limited but limiting.
    The learning I am talking about is unlimited.
    Enough for now

    • Quentin says:

      “Is there another learning in all of us that is untouched by condtioning?”, you ask. Can you tell us the answer?

      • Nektarios says:

        The answer is Yes, there is another learning that is untouched by conditioning,
        it is called awareness and perception.
        One cannot learn about oneself, unless one is free.
        To learn about oneself one must be free to observe, not according to any pattern, formula or concept but actually observe one as we actually are.
        That observation, that perception, that seeing, brings its own discipline, its own learning
        in which there is no conformity, imitation, suppression, control whatsoever.So freedom and learning always go together.

        Our minds are conditioned, this is an obvious fact. We are conditioned by culture,
        by society, influenced by various impressions, strains, stresses, relationships, economic social, climatic, educational, religious conformity,sanctions and so on.
        One of the first things our minds are trained to accept is fear and to escape. I wonder if we realize it is fear that makes us accept conditioning? So we are not observing it and gaining the perception into it and as a result are never free from it. Where there is fear, there is no freedom, and no learning.

      • Quentin says:

        Thank you Nektarios. I felt sure that you knew the answer.

      • milliganp says:

        Nektarios, surely perception is – de facto – conditioned since we always see first with the eye of memory. Even pure vision is itself learned through personal experience. Awareness, which precedes perception, may be innate.
        To add an example to Quentin’s discussion where I do something without concious will, I’d use the illustration of going for a coffee. I work in an office with open rules – there is no specific discipline for consuming coffee, however we always share lunch at 1:00pm.
        Frequently I “find myself” by the kettle making a coffee without ever being concious of why I broke from what I was doing at my desk and the cause may well have been that I (unconsciously) was struggling with something and needed a distraction; it’s rare that I consciously drink coffee because I’m thirsty.

  8. Nektarios says:

    It seems everyone has taken a break, no further comments on what we have been discussing.
    I would like us to focus briefly on the neuroscientists approach when examining the functions of the brain.
    You refer to the primitive brain – it is far from primitive. The way we behave can be construed as primitive certainly or in comparison with the technological world we live comfortably in.

    Modern day thought is seen as highly advanced – is it really? Do you not see tribalism everywhere. whether it be a particular tribe, or clans that we have in Scotland? Do you not see we are arguing and fighting over the same things as early man did?
    Do you not see the desire for possession and security is the same as it was then at root?
    What does all this show us? I suggest it shows us, psychologically we have not changed or developed in that area at all.

    The time differences between brain activity, thought, more brain activity and action in milliseconds
    I feel the neuroscientists have measured well so far, but it is nothing in comparison to the work the brain is doing in its totality.
    It operates in totality to preserve itself. How it does this in totality is not measured and I wonder if it can be, seeing no one among the neuroscientists seems to know what such a totality means?

    I agree with you on the point you raise about Death, Judgement, Hell and Heaven. About Eschatology( a theology built around what at one time everyone knew). And Morality, not as originally, but a morality based on situational ethics. Oh, the games people play.

    Since the fall of man, the mind being darkened, and alientated from the source of life, something in us has not quite forgotten its native place. And from time to time amidst the hustle and bustle of this noisey world, full of distractions and almost diabolical activities, this memory, rises in us as a longing and a hunger for our paradise lost to be regained.

    The poor Jews had waited so long for the deliverer, the sent one, the Messiah to come and deliver them from…… not their problems, wrong theological notions, not religious tryranny, wars, sorrows, fears,…. no, none of that, but to deliver them from Death, that they could regain their Paradise lost, return to the source of Light and love and warmth and well-being the soul hungers continually after.

    The poor brain has to work amidst this diachotomy betwixt that longing in everyman/ woman and the madness of making it satisfied with the creature rather then the Creator, with the pursuit of pleasure, not realizing this worlds pleasure, good though some of them are, are dross in comparison to something retained in the brain that existed in our Paradise lost.
    A wholeness or holiness, natural to the soul, and which the brain was in harmony, but lost, and the silly attempts to make it whole again by rites, services, and all the rest of it, has left man for the most part – a sinner, barbaric – tribal, frightened, fearful, sorrowul, angry just as he probalbly was when expelled from his Paradise lost.
    The brain is not primitive – but because of the fall, even though we be as gods, we will die as men…. Christ changed all that!

  9. Horace says:

    Nektarios asks:-
    “[The brain] operates in totality to preserve itself. How it does this in totality is not measured and I wonder if it can be, seeing no one among the neuroscientists seems to know what such a totality means?”

    A very interesting technique is termed Global field synchronization (GFS). This is an estimate of the amount of phase-locked activity in all the EEG channels at a given frequency, estimated from a 2 sec epoch.

    GFS has been shown, by Dr T König, to decrease in correlation with increasing cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (and surprisingly the same is said to be true of Schizophrenia).

    In König’s studies of decreased EEG synchronization in Alzheimer’s disease the computed values of GFS are averaged over 20 epochs. The resulting measures are again averaged in bands of frequencies at 0.5c/s intervals (e.g. alpha 1 – 8.5c/s to 10c/s; alpha2 – 10.5c/s to 12c/s) to give an estimate of overall Global Field Synchronization. [(c.f. Koenig T., Prichep L., Dierks T., Hubl D., Wahlund LO, John ER, Jelic V “Decreased EEG synchronization in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.” Neurobiology of aging 2005; 26(2): 165-171) Universitätsklinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie Bern]

    Is this a step in the right direction?

    {Anyone interested in playing with this measure may have a look at my website
    Go down about half way and click on :-
    This link gives access to an experimental version of the ATLAS. No password is needed.}

    • Nektarios says:


      Perception is not seen through the eye of memory. If it is, it our memory is playing tricks on us. Perception is seing something totally, memory can only provide fragments of past information. Secondly, it is not conditioned by our metabolism or anything else.
      The brain works with perception in a total way, not in a fragmentary way it oes with our thoughts. Thirdly, Perception, is not a series of thoughts, but a seeing something in its totality. Having perception into ourselves is, to see that, totatally – it can be life-changing.

      You say, pure vision is itself learned through personal experience.
      Let me ask you, is this something you know, have found out, or is it just an idea?
      I don’t know what you mean by pure vision, please tell us?

      Does Awareness precede perception? Is it innate? Again is this something you have discovered for yourself or just an idea, or someone else’s idea?
      Awarenes is immediate, warning us of danger, putting us on guard, ready to fight or flight. It is that which is monitoring us at all times regarding our safety, even when we are unconscious.

      The commandments God gave us is written in our hearts, and is God’s monitor on the soul, giving us an awareness when we are in moral danger. It is called a moral conscience. We ignore it at our peril, just the same as Awareness of danger, we ignore that too at our peril, but it it much more strong in us and harder to ignore.

      • Nektarios says:

        sorry about the typing errors, in a hurry right now, Look forward to hearing your reply.

      • milliganp says:

        I think we are in one of those difficult areas, like the subconscious, where different definitions cause a problem. As someone who did the best part of a year in psychotherapy, part of my recovery was realising that what I “perceive” was not necessarily reality.

  10. Iona says:

    Nektarios – I think “primitive brain” is not a denigrating way of describing the brain, but refers to a particular part of the brain, the brain stem, which is concerned with basic functions such as non-voluntary movement.

    Horace, that looks intensely interesting but I don’t understand “phase-locked activity”. Will I understand it if I look at your website?

    • Nektarios says:

      You are using the word `perceive’ in the sense of what you were thinking was not necessarily linked to reality. Welcome to the human race, welcome to the political and often religious perceiving or thinking, not always related to reality.

      Perception I am referring to is not a thinking about anything, but a seeing whatever in its totality. It is truth and it is reality. It is not reality according to the politician, the priest, the specialist or professional, (sorry, to offend anyone, but perception does not have an axe to grind hidden behind professionalism or religious orders).

      I do agree with you, we are in one of those difficult areas…..where different definitions cause a problem.
      Perception acts in a total way. We however do not think like that, but in a fragmentary way, in a analyitical and mechanistc way using sophisticated tools to help us understand
      what is going on, what the actuality is or the reality is. But it is a slow affair, very slow.
      A great deal of time and effort is expended in all this accumulating of information, measurements, all very necessary for sure,but perception does not function or act in a mechanistic way nor needing lots of time to explore whatever to find out. Perception sees it all.

    • Nektarios says:

      You might well be right. As long as we remember that the descriptive is never the actual.
      I too was interested in Horace’s data he supplied.
      Perhaps he will provide us with his website address next time.

    • Horace says:

      Nektarios has pointed out that I forgot to include my website link, it is
      { }
      What happened was that I included the address in sharp brackets which this system ignores, apologies, but in any event you can simply click on the name Horace.

      Iona asks about “phase locked activity” – this means that the waves at the given frequency all rise and fall at the same time, the implication being that the brain [at this frequency] is acting as a whole (ie “in totality” as Nektarios puts it).

  11. Nektarios says:

    I have a lot of questions, but I will restrain myself to asking, if I may,
    What types of brain activity would the brain be engages in to act in total way
    as you suggested?

  12. Horace says:

    “What types of brain activity would the brain be engage[d] in to act in total way . . ?”
    The obvious answer is “nothing very complex”!

    However there seems to be good evidence that loss of global field synchronisation occurs when different parts of the brain are no longer properly connected to one another and therefore when a complex activity, requiring different parts of the brain to cooperate, is to be undertaken – the brain can no longer cope.

    See for example :-
    “The self-conscious mind is actively engaged in reading out from the multitude of active centres at the highest level of brain activity,namely in the liaison brain.
    (The Self and Its Brain By Karl Raimund Popper, John C. Eccles)”

    • Nektarios says:


      Apologies that my question was not very clear, but you answered it perfectly.

      In Psalm 46:10 we read: Be still and know that I am God.

      God is the only Totality, we can only participate in that being a sub- set of that totality,
      being made in His image.
      What the brain operated under in a Pre-Fall state, we cannot tell, but we can venture a hypothesis that it was more atuned to that Totality/God than now.

      The Fall brought cataclysmic changes, the Light – being the source of Adam’s soulical warmth and life was withdrawn and his mind became darkened.
      This must have been, for Adam and Eve, an awful experience to undergo.

      The mind being darkened, he no longer had a direct perception into things as he has previously. He was placed outside of paradise, in a wholly different environment and being made subject to his lower nature of which the effects of sin were now being felt. His poor shocked brain had to cope with things previously unknown to him like, heat and cold, having to grow food to sustain his body, aging and death.

      It is at this stage, the history of mankind seems to begin. He is reduced to his lower instincts and nature. It is at this point, where anthropology seems to commence? But, it was not the begining of man, as outlined above.

      God, that Totality, was no longer in Man’s thoughts, so what did man do? He invented one, soon to become many invented gods of creatures, beasts, creeping things, and man himself, rather than the Creator.
      When it came to perception at this point in time, he had none.
      How man was to regain this first estate he had before the Fall, and all that that means
      is not a matter of invention, or cleverness, or organization. God began to intervene again to resue man from his fallen state, to his first, estate or maybe more than that?
      And it seemed to start with Noah, Abraham and onwards to the prophets, then a 400 year gap
      until Christ the Messiah, the deliverer came. And then the manifestation of the sons of God- the Chuch.
      But they did not receive Him, and man still generally doesn’t – his brain isn’t working right -yet!

      So the issue of perception in man now, takes place when the mind and thoughts are still, then that Totality gives one perception.
      One cannot at will ochestrate perception, it comes upon one in that stillness.
      The trouble is, there is little stillness anywhere these days and old ways and habits continue, but we are making a little progress – yes?

  13. Nektarios says:

    Another question that arises to ask you, why do we divide the brain up?
    It is obvious it has different aspects that are organized to do different tasks, but, together the brain is working as a whole, yes!, so why do we divide it up?
    What happens within the working of the brain when we do divide it up instead of working with it was a whole?


    • Horace says:

      Sorry; don’t understand “why do we divide the brain up?”.
      The idea behind the König studies is precisely that when the brain becomes ‘divided up’, perhaps because of malfunction of nerve cells, it ceases to function properly and conditions like Alzheimer’s are manifested.

      • John Candido says:


        Have you read the newest posts in ‘Multimind’? They are the ones that Quentin, Mike Horsnall, and myself have posted towards the bottom of the page.

      • Nektarios says:

        Apologies again, that my question was not straight-forward. It is difficult sometimes to formulate questions in discussion with those coming from and seeing things through the screen of their different disciplines.

        In part you answer it.
        What I meant, or was looking at was, the way we approach life in a fragmentary and compartmentalized way and not as a whole.
        We are pushing the brain, which operates as a whole to operate in fragments causing divisions in thought emotions and actions and reactions, leading outwardly to various degrees of disorder, in our thinking, in the home, the workplace, relationships, identity and so on.

        I am not qualified to say, pushing the brain to think and respond in a fragmentary way in the long term contributes to Alzheimers or not?

      • Quentin says:

        It is worth noting that different parts of the brain have different functions. I will be looking at this next week. One very simple division is that some parts of the brain react cognitively to stimuli, and others react emotionally. These can, and do, give different answers. Example: someone terrified of heights may rationally know that they are safe looking out of a tall building. Yet the emotional parts of the brain still register terror.

      • Horace says:

        I have added a (probably not very helpful) comment to Multimind detailing EEG activity related to meditation.

  14. Mike Horsnall says:

    We say different parts of the brain have different functions but I suspect that the brain itself would not agree. Like pretty much everything in the body we chop and divide for descriptions sake-but the 9th dorsal vertebra for example has utterly no clue thats what it is. Similarly for spinal nerves or the spinal chord-It acts segmentally but also as a whole and is not aware that we have srbitrarily divided it.

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