Brain: A network like…facebook?

1 May, 2014 Blog

Why not? We organize the information in “groups” in order to preserve it. We go back to the “timeline” of our childhood, whenever memories awake. We use “applications” like memory in order to remember birthdays and celebrations.

How many times do we use the expression “Our mind plays games” or “I have lived this scene before”? Such expressions denote our effort to describe in simple words the way our brain works.

The neuroscientist Dr. Eleni Konsolaki, Lecturer 407/80 at the University of Peloponnese, explains in the blog of the Athens Science Festival, how our brain works and why we can see it as a network. A network of memories, knowledge and emotions that influences our personality, our behavior and our decisions.

Memories: A network that connects us to the past
So much information is written down in our memory! We think that something has been erased, but many times this “something” returns so alive as soon as it is linked to a stimulus, when, for example, a smell brings to our mind scenes from our childhood. “In 1953, an incident of an epileptic patient, from whom a part of his brain was removed, the hippocampus, brought a revolution in the research for the understanding of the function of memory. After the surgery, the patient could not recall recent episodes, while he remembered older events” says Dr. Konsolaki referring to the clinical case of a patient who became known as H.M.

Learning: A network of information that connects in order to make sense
There is no certain way to show someone how to learn. Others write something down so as to remember it; others read it many times or keep notes, while others find tricks of semantic memory, such as words that are made of the initials of other words. Each one develops ways, which depend on our education, meaning our environment, but also on our biological background. For example, even in individuals with mental disorders, like the Down syndrome, despite the same morphological characteristics (similarities in the phenotype), there are important differences in the way their brain works, which are highlighted by psychometric tests.

Emotions: Our personal network of experiences
Social and biological factors form the networks that are responsible for the emotional functions of each person. We know scientifically that amygdala is the part of the brain that is associated with the emotions and influences the decision making in combination with personal experiences. What we call “logic” is a number of higher cognitive functions and therefore there is no specific region for “logic” in our brain.

The deeper we swim in the unknown waters of neuroscience, the better we understand that each one of us is a unique network of biological specifications and experiences. Just like the profiles that we create and update in facebook. Additionally, just like our connection in facebook needs a network and a computer, in the same way our brain is like a device which comprises of networks created by neurons. With the help of technology, neuroscience continuously sheds light on the network of our brain. And as Dr. Konsolaki says with optimism “everything is in progress”.