The Everyday Brain

The three pounds of pink pudding we carry in our cranium has to be the most researched and debated organ in the (known) universe. If you follow the visible tip of the iceberg (the part I post somewhere public) you have some idea of the 7/8ths of the brain topics that remain underwater. These are the subtopics that I have not yet discussed, but only curate and come back to from time to time. For decades I’ve been trying to build a better understanding of this most complex tissue on Earth.

RECENT POST ON SUBSTACK

This week on my Substack space I posted a bit on the relationship between memory and forgetting, and how these two brain features seem to work together to bring about creativity and imagination. Selective forgetting seems to function to “melt” memories (or shatter them like a broken mirror) so they can be re-organized in novel ways. Among other outcomes, this ability helps us think into the future and create alternative futures depending on how we sort and stack our memories.

https://fredfirst.substack.com/p/forgetting-to-create?sd=pf

I am using the blog here to gather ideas for future thinking and writing, and maybe less now with the notion of sharing to a group (a very very small group) of regular readers and commenters. I know that ship has sailed, and blogs no longer serve this function as they once did.

So I’m just going to record a quickly-cobbled partial list of brain-related topics on the docket (without links that few readers click on). Perhaps I will come back to dig deeper into one or more of them someday.


BRAIN TOPICS IN THE QUEUE

— What happens in the brain when ALZ or other dementias overcome normal brain function, and what factors contribute to the disease and to its ultimate prevention and cure?

— Can cognition and memory be preserved in the aging brain?

— Is a brain necessary for consciousness?

— How does “long covid” bring about an increased possibility of Parkinsonism?

— What does a psychedelic chemical do in the brain to bring about altered states of consciousness? Some “trips” can lead to life-changing personal revelations and insights. Are these insights valid or illusory? What does that even mean?

— THE BRAIN is the hardware; the self/soul is the software; consciousness is the signal. #idea

— Are the brains of other animals (thinking especially of crows and ravens lately) capable of producing intelligence and consciousness? Is that manifestation of consciousness different in kind from those abilities in the human brain, so that they are difficult to appreciate from our human bias?

BRAIN WAVES: direction of nerve pathways can be reversed magnetically to erase depression. * The diabetes drug Ozempic (off-label) can bring about weight reduction. And (off-off-label) this drug (semaglutide) can seemingly shut off the neural circuits that lead to addictions of all kinds.

AI and THE BRAIN: * Do feelings rather than thinking create the state we experience as consciousness? * The notion of an embodied consciousness has merit. * The uneasy tension between humans and machines is growing quickly as the role of LLMs and GPT development gets emergency attention.

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fred
fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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