The Mushy Brain Mystery
Red velvet brain cake - delicious!
I was recently scheduled to perform surgery on a patient with a brain tumor. The day before the surgery, the patient phoned me to request that should the surgery necessitate the removal of any normal brain tissue surrounding the tumor, could I put it on a DVD for him so that he doesn’t lose any information!! (He was dead-serious)
Unfortunately this is the level of misinformation that permeates the subject of the brain, consciousness and the purpose/cause of its existence. The champions of AI (artificial intelligence) are already talking about transferring all our intrinsic brain-based data on to an electronic storage device which they maintain will represent our consciousness! Now when did stored brain-based data equate to consciousness? And even more worrying, a certain neurologist of repute (name withheld to spare him any embarrassment) stated recently that when he lifted the hood (the cranium) and beheld the engine (the brain) he was astounded at what an inefficient mess it was, following years of random add-on evolutionary structures! Possibly the most arrogant statement I’ve heard in all my years in the neurosciences.
Bottom line is we have only a very primordial idea as to how this organ comprehensively perceives and stores information, recalls it, integrates emotion and supports subjective consciousness. This soft, mushy organ that I’ve held in my hands so often, worked on and studied, remains a total mystery. We have only theories describing memory storage, cognitive function, where the seat of subjective consciousness may reside (possibly not even within the cranium) and how the conscious observer engages with quantum physics phenomena (entanglement) – ‘spooky action at a distance’!
I would therefore advise the AI experts and the arrogant neuroscientists to first define human consciousness in its multi-faceted form before making judgments and preparing to immortalize us on DVD’s or other electronic storage items!