posted on Aug, 29 2008 @ 01:05 PM
The Brain and Nervous System work in two main ways, Imput and output. Information is recieved through nerve receptors, transduced into an electrical
current that travels along the axon of nerve cells and affects an output. e.g The imput could be that you see a ball flying towards your head, the
output being that you catch it. You recieve information about the ball from your eyes, this triggers a bunch of nerves in your brain which makes you
catch the ball.
Have you ever stopped to think why we have so many sensory imputs on our head; our ears, eyes, nose, mouth(taste) ? Its because of two reasons:
1. The time it takes to relay a information from the receptor to the brain where it is processed.
Many of you might have experienced touching something hot and burning yourself. You may even realise that you moved your hand away from the heat
source before you actually started feeling the heat. This is because of simple relay systems. The body has been evolutionarily designed to respond as
quickly as possible to such dangers. Nerve signals for heat come from your fingers up your arm to your spinal cord and are relayed back straight to
your arm so you move your hand away. It takes too long for the signal to go to your brain and be processed, your hand will be like crispy bacon by
2. Increasing the distance of the signal receptors from the brain increases the chance that the connection to the brain could be severed.
If we had eyes on the end of our fingers, well you wouldnt want to loose a finger....
Abstract thought takes place in the brain and the main problem with trying to answer your question is there is no way to quantify the numer of nerve
cell connections assosiated with complex thought. As Sardion said, the slowest step in nerve signals is transfering the signal across the synapses,
which is done by the diffusion of nerotransmitters.
You can however get a ball park figure by measuring reaction times. A nice one often demonstrated is dropping a ruler between thumb and forefinger and
measuring the distance it drops before you can catch it and from that calculating the reaction time.