Home: Scrying: The pathways of the brain: a perfect analogy for life

The pathways of the brain: a perfect analogy for life

January 22, 2006

A neuron and its pathwaysSomething my psychology professor said the other day has stuck with me. I’d heard this before; our ability to learn is based not on the basis of brain cells (number of neurons) but in the connections between them (number of pathways.) This makes good sense, as we are inevitably going to encounter new experiences, and rather than forgetting the past to remember the future, or needing to grow new brain matter, we can simply rearrange; look at things from a new perspective. (In essence, we don’t need anything new to be adaptable; our brains come pre-wired for it, or rather, ready to be re-wired.)

For some reason, what struck me about this bit knowledge, was how it not only fit into my idea of dimensional patterns, but how it expresses an essential aspect of those patterns. While true for the brain, the necessity of pathways between individuals is the found everything we see in our universe. A cloud of gas in space doesn’t consist so much of a single molecule, but the interactions between many molecules. It is interactions between molecules that fuel our sun, directly or indirectly providing food for every living being on our planet. Even individual organisms within an ecosystem alone have little impact, but through complex interactions with other organisms (from eating them, or being eaten by them, to mating with them, or killing them, etc.)

More importantly, the survival, or the endurance, of any particular part, tends to rely on the ability to create new connections with the whole. Even in the genetic code of a species, DNA, if one chemical is swapped for another, the surrounding DNA may be interpreted differently. This can mean death for the organism… or not. Sometimes, that “or not” leads to an advantage somewhere down the road. When change is present in the environment, it is occasionally only those who have the different arrangement of code who survive.

This even happens socially. We make or break aquantinces all the time. We build successful friendships and relationships when we are able to build many connections. Each contact, or story shared, becomes a rebuilt connection between two parts. The more adaptable these connections are, the more successful the friendship. (For instance, your friend suddenly announces that they are taking a year off to travel Europe. If you can communicate as easily via postcard and e-mail as you can by phone or in person, you’re a lot less likely to be jealous of your friend. The relationship endures for a year through the mail. On the other hand, if you aren’t so adaptable, and resent your friend for not being there, in person, as usual, the relationship will be strained, and may not survive.)

The interaction of many parts affect the nature of the whole; the more adaptable the interactions between parts, the more successful the whole is.In some ways, this is a pretty obvious thing to point out: The interaction of many parts affect the nature of the whole; the more adaptable the interactions between parts, the more successful the whole is. Now, if this is so obvious, why don’t we study the interactions between the parts, and their affects on the whole more? We talk about the changes in our environment in bits and pieces, or as big looming concepts like, “Global Warming,” or we look at bits and pieces, like temperature records or species extinction, but at which point do we start looking at tying the data together?

How does a change in one part of the system affect another part? How do all the parts fit together, and if we remove a part or two, can we rearrange the connections between parts in order for the whole to not fall too far out of balance? Someday, I hope soon, as we watch American Sunday driving habits, we are also watching the conifer forests which the drivers pass, how those forests affect the drivers, and how the drivers affect the forests, and understand how deeply symbiotic our relationship is with the rest of the world. Then, at least, it may become more clear as to how we can build new pathways, and adapt along with it.

Notes: The neuron pictured above is from pfizer.com. Also, the book Linked which you may have noticed on my reading list, was also a big influence in my thoughts on connections. Anyone who has the slightest interest in networks of any kind should pick it up.