Is it my imagination? I’ve a gut feeling it’s not
There seems to be a subtle increase in the number of programs on TV and radio that relate to the mind, the way we think, and how our mind interacts with our body and vice versa .
Two of these really caught my attention.
The Royal Institution lectures at Christmas included the title ‘Meet your brain’. For me one of the most fascinating things I learned in this is that we are blind for about two hours of our waking day. This is because our brain has to filter the massive amount of information that we absorb through all our senses, and our vision is a very good example of this. Firstly there is only a small part of our field of vision that is sharply focussed and detailed, we build up a larger picture by moving our eyes and ‘scanning’ what is in front and around us. And here’s the amazing part, while we move our eyes the brain cuts off the visual information until the eyes stop moving. Scientists believe this is to avoid unnecessary processing of large amounts of visual stimuli and also that we would experience feelings similar to motion sickness. It’s amazing what our brain is up to, that most of the time we are completely unaware of. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1KkqlnEljy8
And just recently there was a fascinating (and somewhat yukky) programme about our ‘second brain’ the gut. I watched transfixed as Michael Mosley bravely endured a number of bizarre procedures to see how our gut works, yes literally ‘see’ as he swallowed a tiny remote camera (which they wanted back afterwards) that showed us the inner workings of the stomach and gut.
Scientists have identified what they affectionately call “the little brain”, a network of neurons that line your stomach and your gut. Surprisingly, there are over 100 million of these cells in your gut, as many as there are in the head of a cat. The little brain does not do a lot of complex thinking but it does get on with the essential daily grind involved in digesting food – lots of mixing, contracting and absorbing, to help break down our food and begin extracting the nutrients and vitamins we need. And all those neurons lining our digestive system allow it to keep in close contact with the brain in your skull, via the vagus nerves, which often influence our emotional state. For instance when we experience “butterflies in the stomach”, this really is the brain in the stomach talking to the brain in your head. As we get nervous or fearful, blood gets diverted from our gut to our muscles and this is the stomach’s way of protesting.
Acknowledgment and true thanks to Michael Mosley. The things people will do for our viewing pleasure!
Demotion, emotion, locomotion:The importance of rapport and language. MP’s have quite a tough job. No, don’t worry, I’m not about to start waxing lyrical about what they do for us and how hard it is installing a duck house on …
If you think that looking for the problems and challenging everything presents you in a smarter, more discriminating light, you might want to re-think that. Unless, of course, with every problem you find, you already have a solution.
So having watched the channel 4 program about people who remember everything, what do we think about how and why they do it? When they were asked this question they made the very common response, ‘I don’t know, I just do’.