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Step by step: Does your brain actually store any information?

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posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 12:56 AM

Does your brain actually store any information?

DISCLAIMER: I am no neuroscientist. I am about to complete my fourth year as a psychology student at a private college. I am simply providing some of what I have learned, and postulating a theory based upon that info.

So what I'm about to attempt to guide you through is a very interesting, but at times intense topic:


Neuroscience is

The scientific study of the brain and of the links between brain activity and behavior.


I am going to do my best to make my case as simple as possible because this is such a complex topic.


The brain does not perceive anything but electrical signals.

A stimulus comes in, and our senses perceive it in different ways.

Sensory neurons in our skin record the frequency, pressure, and duration of touch.

Chemical detectors on our tongues, and in our noses take in chemical information about materials.

Rods and cones in the backs of our eyes take in information about different frequencies of light waves and send them to the brain.

Different frequencies of sound enter the ear, creating a vibrational frequency, which is picked up by small hairs in the inner ear, translating the sound into something the brain can understand.

This part is very important.

The brain does not understand what the outside world is saying.

It needs to be translated first.

So every signal that is sent in, is translated into electrical signals.

Now the electrical signals are not the message.

The electrical signals simply allow the message to get through.

The electricity produced opens chemical channels at the end of the neuron, allowing for chemical messengers to go through to the next neuron, and so on and so forth, until the chemicals make it to the brain.

Once the signals make it to the brain, they go through certain patterns of firings to get to the processing centers for those senses.

Vision for example, is processed in the back of the brain, about halfway up, in an area called the occipital cortex.

Now here is the main point I'm trying to get at.

Physically in the brain, once the messages get to the brain, the only things that happen are all chemically and electrically based.

As said before, the electrical signals, open up the channels for the chemical messengers to get through.

But this is the point.

Stimulus comes in,

It is converted to a electrical frequency,

this is converted to a chemical message,

the message makes it to the brain,

and this just continues in the brain in a more complicated manner, going to more neurons, in different parts of the brain based upon what type of information it is.

Do you see it?

I do.

It's simple.

There's no 'message.'

There is no information.

It's just an interpretation of a physical stimulus converted into chemical messengers so the brain can understand it.

When you experience something,

everything about that 'experience' is recorded, and 'translated' into a language that the brain can understand.

It's all just reactions to that initial action.

Sort of like a biological Rube Goldberg machine.

So the information is represented by those chemical messengers, but it is not actually there.

The information is inferred by the actions taken by the brain, but it is not actually recording or storing anything.

It is all just a chain of changes within the biological construct of the brain.

So how does this resonate with everyone?


Ideas, Comments?

Throw em at me.

Im curious as to what everyone thinks about this.

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:07 AM
To me it sounds like this theory points towards consciousness storing memory instead of the brain.
Maybe that is just how I see it but still its very interesting.

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:15 AM
Heh, I can only speak for myself, but my brain does a piss-poor job of storing information. That said, it has an amazing ability to learn on-the-fly, so often the act of recalling information is actually rediscovering it from the ground up on command.

As a musician, there are very few songs that I "know" how to play, but an amazing assortment that I can play "by ear" because I've short circuited my idea of what the song sounds like to the muscles in my fingers that make those notes come out. But then, if you asked me what I just did, I'd have to sit down and work out the exact notes...

Sorry, vering slightly offtopic, but just something I think about from time to time that seemed vaguely relevant.

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:15 AM
reply to post by spaz490

Well thats the sort of question that the end result begs:

Who is it that is doing the interpreting of the 'information'?

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:32 AM
I can never know how your brain takes in information. I look at a red rose and ask you, what color is this rose? You say "it is red". Now, I have no idea how your occipital cortex chooses to translate the sensation you refer to as "redness" but we still use the same symbol (the word red) to describe that sensation. We agree on its redness without having any way of proving we "see" it the same way. This demonstrates the fallacy and the magic of both language and the set of filters we call our senses.

Does this mean "redness" does not exist? No. It just means that our interpretation of the sensation is a solitary act that can only be agreed upon with the added layer of abstraction we call language.

The original signal you refer to as information is out of reach of human perception. That doesn't mean it does not exist, but it does render it meaningless in the scope of human endeavor. The meaning is in the interpretation, the information after the processes of experiencing (or imagining).

The world as it "really" is is invisible to us and all of our "truths" are functional metaphors, shared illusions and agreed upon abstractions. It's the best we can do with the hardware we've been provided.

You said "the information is represented by those chemical messengers, but it is not actually there." All we ever have are the translations to work with. The information is always out of reach. We do however store a functional model based on our shared language and personal encounters.

[edit on 12-4-2010 by Missletow]

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:37 AM
reply to post by willis7737

Stuart Hameroff's quantum brain model should prove worth checking out.

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:43 AM
Now, this may sound silly so go ahead and laugh at me but ... Have you ever heard of some people that can taste a sound? or hear a color? It's strange indeed. I was watching a documentary on it a while back and your post made it come to mind. So, I assume that somewhere in their wiring when the information is being "translated" it gets split into two different types?


[edit on 12-4-2010 by Tragic]

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:46 AM
reply to post by Tragic

Far from silly actually, it's a known psychological phenomena:

Synaesthesia is a condition in which stimulation in one sensory modality (for example, taste) triggers an experience in another sensory modality (for example, touch) or when a sensation in one sensory modality triggers another sensation within the same modality (for example, seeing a letter induces a colour).


You should check out the page, there's a lot of interesting info about it.

Edit to add link

[edit on 12-4-2010 by willis7737]

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 01:58 AM
Thank you for the link, a very interesting read.

Now, I'm going to be going over your original post in my head all night. So much for sleeping. I wonder if maybe this is another reason why some people are more prone to say ... anxiety for instance. If their chemical make up is telling them to interpret a situation or a group of situations negatively even though it may not be accurate... or maybe that was a given.

Oh jeez, I need to try to sleep, this is going to be rough


*edit for spelling*

[edit on 12-4-2010 by Tragic]

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 05:32 AM
Interesting, never fails to amaze me the fact that I am walking around with a sack of purpley gray lump of glop in my head which is somehow translating at all times the signals it recieves from the outer world into comprehendable "information", not too much and not too little, sometimes I think of this I wonder, could we really have evolved like this through mere acts of random mutation.

Sometimes we get too hung up and think the ball stops at our particular percievable reality, the nature of existence truly is amazing and infinitely mysterious.

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 05:44 AM
Have you looked into holographic/holonomic brain theory. It's interesting stuff. Here are a couple links to get you started:

edit: typo

[edit on 4/12/2010 by this_is_who_we_are]

posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 11:46 AM
Do we understand how the brain translates as it does?

If we could find a way to manipulate it (that sounds terrible, i know) then maybe we could all have the intelligence of Stephen Hawking. Although, on the downside and in retrospect, I'm sure it could be used for atrocities that I would rather not be associated with as well.

I suppse that's what doctors in a sense were trying to do back when using shock therapy. Manipulate the translation.


posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 12:24 PM
What is the difference between mind and brain? We are taught from very early in life to judge things and for values. By the time we become adults we've constructed a gigantic brick building where each brick represents one of those judgements. We assign positive and negative values to our judgements. All the while our personality and emotions are developing, and I can't help but remember all the arguments about nature vs. nurture. I don't think you can seperate them. So we still haven't answered the question about what is consciousness. At some age we have the ability to make a decision for ourselves how we will pursue our own consciousness. A lot depends on how we percieve reality in the first place. We've all known those who were so stodgy and practical that these kinds of things never enter their minds. They literally live in the here and now. There are others who are so far out there in their state of consciousness that material reality means very little for them. Most of us are in the middle somewhere. I feel like our state and degree of consciousness is the sum and total of everything we are. I realize I haven't really defined anything, but I do think there is quantum interaction here, and we know how spooky that can be.

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