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Archive for January 12th, 2007

More Fun with Neurons

Posted by honestpoet on January 12, 2007

Another interesting discovery: I can hear my neurons firing. Sounds crazy, I know. Of course I can’t hear them when there’s ambient sound, which is always. Except at night, because hubby (who doesn’t snore!) BREATHES REALLY LOUDLY, and even when he doesn’t sound like a rusty engine, I’m sensitive to sound, and so I wear earplugs. When I first started wearing them (some months ago — they saved my life, or my marriage, or both) the sound of my own heartbeat was staggering. I got used to that quickly enough. But even when I’d tuned that out (funny how our brains can do that, isn’t it?), I still heard this high, random, whining sound, very much like being in the woods at night with scads of crickets and cicadas doing their thing. I wrote it off as some sort of hallucination thrown up by my brain to give it something to do in the silence.

But then hubby, who’s very much into music and has been exploring the work of John Cage, told me that he’d conceived of his infamous however-many-minutes of silence after he’d had the opportunity to check out this “quiet room” some scientists in Boston had put together, a room that absorbed ALL sound, so that you could actually experience total silence. But when he was there, it wasn’t silent! He’d heard what he recognized as his heart beat, and another, higher sound. And upon asking about it, he was told those were the neurons firing in his brain.

How cool is that? You can actually hear your own biological computer up there, grinding away. If you want to try it yourself, get some Flents. They’re the best.

Going to bed the night he’d told me about that, I paid more attention to the crickets and cicadas, really, to all the sounds in my head. And I was amazed to discover that I could actually focus my attention within my skull, move it around, from a pulse near my ear, to a space without rushing blood where the neurons were quite loud, back around to another artery. The next day I told hubby about it, and he said that made sense; since we’ve got two ears, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to, if we try.

Dang, brains are cool. Goodness knows what they’ll be capable of when we really start harnessing them.


Posted in atheism, neuroscience, Paul Churchland, science | 5 Comments »