posted on Mar, 9 2006 @ 07:46 PM
Well, to answer this you have to study psychology. It's the science of how the mind works, and seeks to find out - essentially - what your
"thoughts" are made out of.
From the class I took in Psych at Carleton University, this is what I can tell you.
Firstly, your thoughts are, for all intents and purposes, electrical impulses that travel through memory and action neurons that cumulate to create an
idea. When you remember the smell of blueberry pie, you imagine the pie. This was caused by the neurons in your body detecting hunger, and informing
the brain that you are hungry. The neurons that fire in your brain that have to do with processing hunger (and how to deal with it - ie, eating) cause
other neurons that have to do with memory of food to fire. These neurons then bring the image of the pie to mind.
These neurons for memory of the pie then cause the neurons of the memory of the smell of the pie to fire. This causes the neurons for actually
smelling things to fire false signals as if the pie were really there. However, since the neural pathways are complex, converging, and diverging - and
since you remembered the image of the pie first and know already that there is no pie in front of you, you know that this memory of the blueberry
pie's smell is not a real smell, but is instead the memory of the pie.
Essentially that's what happens.
Now, things get complicated from there for determining exactly HOW the neurons cause other neurons to fire and in what patterns.
For example, take a clock. You know what a clock looks like, right? In fact, even if you see a clock that you've NEVER seen before, you know it to be
a clock! How does your brain know this? In what order and function do the neurons fire to process the determining of this new object being a clock?
One theory is that your neurons, since they're simple computers (each neuron, when confronted with a signal, will either send out another signal or
will not send out a signal - in essence, your brain works in a complex, organic, and evolving, binary code), remember the image of something round.
When you see something round, that neuron fires to all other neurons that identify with things that are round. Is it something round with a number on
it? Are there lines pointing to the numbers? In three steps your brain has now verified that the object you're looking at is a clock - because all
three of these things match.
This is why people can get so easily confused. Show someone who has never seen a Grapefruit, a grapefruit, and they'll think it's an orange
(providing they've seen an orange). This is because all the same neurons are firing. But then you tell them that it's NOT an orange, it's a
grapefruit. Now their brain is confused, and starts to look for a further sub-divider that seperates the two. Usually the orange will be more
"orange" than the grapefruit (which tends to be more yellow).
If you get them to taste it, the neurons from your tongue will send a unique and previously unencountered signal to the brain. This becomes another
way for the brain to distinguish between the orange and the grapefruit - and further reinforces the neural connection between the difference for an
orange and a grapefruit.
Simplisticly speaking, this is how your brain works, and what your imagination is made out of. It's a series of neural connections that are
constantly firing, and causing other neurons to fire.
Now, why do I say it's like an evolving binary code? Because neural pathways are formed and dissolve over time. If a pathway is used over and over
again, the space between the two neurons associated with that thought get closer and closer together, and the firing of Neuron 1 will more often cause
the firing of Neuron 2. This is why it's so important to study - because you build the neural pathways to remember things more easily since that
pathway is being used more often than it normally would be.
However, it's also possible for a pathway to dissolve. If a pathway isn't fired, the neurons de-link and drift apart, reducing the chances of those
Sometimes, and this tends to be the case of punishment, a third neuron will come in and interrupt the signal, so to speak. Say you steal a cookie and
eat it. Neuron 1 for stealing the cookie, and Neuron 2 for enjoying eating, connect with each other. However, one day you get severly punished for
eating the cookies. This doesn't cause Neuron 1 and Neuron 2 to disjoint and drift apart - this connection still exists and still fires. However,
it's likely that a third connection was formed (Neuron 3, for punishment) that will fire if ever Neuron 2 fires because of Neuron 1. The firing of
Neuron 3 will trigger bio-chemicals to be released that will lessen the chance of other neurons firing because of the firing between Neurons 1 and
So, as you can see, the brain is very complicated, and very simple at the same time. Of course, now that you know this - you have to ask yourself "Is
there such thing as original thought?"
Are we just neural pulses and nets? Or does the soul cause certain random neurons to fire?