Model for the Human Brain

Clearly this needs to be updated:

Because we do not understand the brain very well we are constantly tempted to use the latest technology as a model for trying to understand it. In my childhood we were always assured that the brain was a telephone switchboard. (‘What else could it be?’) I was amused to see that Sherrington, the great British neuroscientist, thought that the brain worked like a telegraph system. Freud often compared the brain to hydraulic and electro-magnetic systems. Leibniz compared  it to a mill, and I am told some of the ancient Greeks thought the brain functions like a catapult. At present, obviously, the metaphor is the digital computer.” (John R Searle, or so the Internet says.)

I would suggest that if we don’t return to the model of the catapult then that it must be the Large Hadron Collider — specifically the two hemispheres can represent the two colliding beams of protons producing a myriad of events each of which involves the creation and decay of many many ephemeral particles (thoughts) out of which only a few muons and neutrinos survive to affect the rest of the universe.  Like the LHC, most brains consume vast amounts of energy and produce little of significance.  I haven’t yet spent much time thinking about the evolution of the metaphor in the case of the ALICE colliding Pb nuclei and trying to create micro Black Holes.

GPK: This brings up all kinds of questions, like “What accelerates the thoughts before they collide?”  Of course, that fits in well with the catapult metaphor, doesn’t it…

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One Response to “Model for the Human Brain”

  1. gpk says:

    I’m told (by Anastassia Loukina) that the correct reference is:

    J. R. Searle, Minds, brains, and science. 1984. (The 1984 Reith lecture)
    p. 44. [This can be found in Google Books.]