Getting to know our brain

Editor's note: Re-published archive article (cf. Crescendo no.6, January 2022 "Le réseau AEFE : le monde des possibles")

I want you to think about the things you do daily: perceiving, acting, thinking, reflecting, memorizing, deciding, speaking, feeling, reading, writing, learning, walking, dreaming… None of this is possible without our brain. Therefore, expanding our understanding of the various mechanisms of the brain is essential to understand the functions of our brain in a normal context to improve our daily lives.

Scientific research in neuroscience allows us to learn a little more every day about the brain, the seat of cognition, memory, emotions… Why is it this important to seek to understand the brain? Philosophically speaking, the brain is the organ that perceives, thinks, and acts. It is therefore the brain itself that makes it possible to give meaning to existence. Sociologically speaking, the brain is in fact the conductor of the organism and it manages to do so while managing itself at the same time. The brain is directly connected to our behavior, and therefore to our interactions with the individuals who compose society. Scientifically, since we are discovering the secrets of the functioning of the brain, we are living in an exciting time to understand the genesis of our intellectual faculties and our emotions, and therefore the motor behaviors that express them. Finally it is important that we get to know the human brain because medically speaking the diseased brain is beginning to be understood, whether it concerns neurological diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy …) or psychiatric diseases (depression, schizophrenia, autism, OCD …).

The scientific advances made in recent years are spectacular. However, knowledge is still scattered and fragmentary. We are therefore only at the very beginning of a scientific adventure full of promises. The « why » and « how » of the diseased brain are within our grasp: alongside palliative treatments, better knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of cell death and of the various forms of nerve cell repair should allow the development of treatments.

Understanding how the brain works and how it malfunctions is possible today. Recent advances in neuroscientific disciplines finally make it possible to predict the therapies of the future.

While our brain is so complex that it astounds scientists with its perfect structure, are we aware of the power we have?

The brain is an extraordinary system that guides people, ensures their survival, and amazes scientists every time with its complex structure. Our brain, which weighs one and a half kilograms, processes at a speed of 1 quadrillion per second. The human brain comes loaded with a learning program as of creation. However, there is no user manual with this program. As time passes, the knowledge and skills learned become obsolete. What we need throughout life is the « teaching of learning ».

The brain consists of three intertwined parts. The hippocampus, located in the midbrain, is the « center of memory ». This center functions like a printer of the brain. We can operate the “printer of the brain” at our own will, and record the information we want. The hippocampus is the center that decides whether information will be stored in permanent memory. When synapses in the hippocampus are stimulated by high-frequency electrical signals, synaptic connections are strengthened. The information that reaches us through various learning channels is recorded according to the degree of importance we give. In short, in events where emotions are not activated, the information received is in the form of low-frequency electrical signals. As a result, weak synaptic connections are formed and no recording takes place on the brain’s « hard disk » (cortex). Because in such cases, “recipients” (emotions) do not take action. In events where emotions are awakened, the hippocampus is activated and the recording process is completed in the « cortex » located in the outermost layer of the brain.

The third part of the brain, the cortex, is the part of the brain that thinks, speaks, writes, invents, wonders, plans, learning, intelligence and memory, and seems to have an unlimited capacity. It is in constant communication with the vision, hearing and other perception centers on it and with the outside world. This capacity is provided by the relationships established between neurons.

Events that arouse emotions are recorded on the cerebral cortex through the « hippocampus » in the midbrain. The failure of the « teaching processes » in which the student’s interest is not drawn to the subject, curiosity is not aroused, and the subject is not made enjoyable. Entertaining is related to not stimulating the brain region called « hippocampus ». It is not possible for information that does not carry the “curiosity and interest” label to obtain the necessary visa to enter the brain.

The brain is the control center that runs all movements of the body, conscious or unconscious. It is responsible for emotion, thought and speech. The brain stores all memories and does not erase any information from the womb to death. Wrong messages produce wrong results; subconsciously, send the message you really want to your subconscious mind. The subconscious does not distinguish right-wrong, positive-negative. Whatever you convey to it, the subconscious mind knows it well and strives to realize it.

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