Solving puzzles of the brain

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Our brain is the major part of any living organism and perhaps the most complex as well. This organ weighing just three a pound is actually the seat of intelligence, interpreter of the senses, initiator of body movement, and controller of our behavior. It controls and governs our activities, thoughts, opinions, and as well our dreams. It is the source of all qualities we possess as a symbol of humanity. But this extra complex organ does such remarkable activities that it makes us question several factors of its creation. Although it’s ironic to question the one who made us question it at the first hand- it’s also quite fascinating to satisfy the quest of our curiosities.

Such questions could be related to our dreams, Misinterpretation of memories, déjà vu, our emotions, or basically what actually defines us. It’s a set of puzzling queries that we fail to answer despite our deepest quest for it. Though where we fail to answer such questions begins the journey of scientists who manage to solve the unsolved. This article will try to answer some of the common questions about our intellectual capacity.

Why do we dream?

Dreams are the certain types of hallucination that occurs during our sleep. People don’t remember the dreams as complete but only the fragments of them. We don’t remember the dreams when they are completed and only remember fragments of those that were happening while we wake up. Thus, what a dream, in reality, it could be much larger than just our submissive thoughts. Here are some interesting theories of science behind dreaming.

We dream to fulfill our wishes. It is clear that in our dreams we try to create a better world where all our wishes could be fulfilled. In the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud proposed a theory that suggests that a dream is a fulfillment of a wish. He says that all our dreams including nightmares are just the collection of visuals from our daily life and we often try to remember the one we want to happen to us while dreaming. These dreams have symbolic meaning that relates to fulfilling our subconscious wishes, urges, and desires that might include power, strength, or security. By analyzing these subconscious contents we can reveal them to our conscious minds.

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We dream to remember. According to the researchers our brain dreams to rehearse a memory to last longer. Because we can’t remember everything thus dreaming about it can generate fragments of it in our permanent memory. Neuroscientist suggests that to remember something, sleeping is good but dreaming it while sleeping is better and that some memory processes can only happen when we sleep and dreaming is a proof of it.

We dream to forget. In 1983, a paper published in the science journal Nature, Crick and Mitchison’s reverse learning model was a neurobiological theory of dream. While we sleep our brain stocks the important visuals gathered throughout the day and dump the unwanted one. According to this model, we dream to forget the unnecessary through reverse learning. Neuroscientists suggest that parasitic thoughts could disrupt the necessary thinking and thus the brain throws away such thoughts during REM sleep.   

Continual Activation Theory. Sleeping during REM sleep generates several mechanisms within our brain including consolidation. Through this process, our brain encodes, and transfer data from short-term memory to long-term memory. This theory is backed up by a hypothesis that suggests that our subconscious brain is busy processing procedural memory while we sleep. This data flows through the conscious part of the brain resulting in dreams.

A dream is overnight therapy. Dreaming is a necessary part of healing as it releases our stress hormones that trigger trauma or anxiety. The REM sleep happens to take away the painful sting out. It could be traumatic or emotional episodes experienced throughout the day and offering emotional resolution the next morning. Thus dreaming also helps in psychological healing. Revealing traumatic events in our dreams with less mental stress may grant a clear perspective and ability to process our thoughts together.

What causes Déjà vu?

Have you ever experience déjà vu? The shadowy feeling you think you have experienced before? Déjà vu is a feeling that makes you believe to have lived the present situation before. In 1976, Emile Boirac first introduced the term ‘déjà vu’ that means already see. Varying estimates suggest that around 60-80% population has experienced Déjà vu somewhere in their lives. As the experience is brief and occurs without realizing hence making it extremely difficult for the scientist to detect it with no physical manifestation. What’s the science behind it? There’s no such evidence as to how this happens but researchers do have few theories. 

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Split perception. This theory suggests that you have seen the same thing at different times. At first, you might have not noticed it but your memory has captured it somewhere from the corner of your eyes. Thus, when you see the same thing again it may generate the feeling of déjà vu. In essence, since you didn’t give full attention the first time it entered your memory, it would feel like two different events. But it’s really just one continued perception of the same event.

Dual Processing. It happens when your brain fails to interpret the information in sync. For example, a visual as simple as a pasta dish might not record in your memory the similar way you see it. Your brain will process the visual by interpreting the looks, movement, and even smell differently but in a synchronized manner. Once in a while, this synchronization is troubled and your brain memorizes few details later than the rest. This late processing of the half information interprets as a separate event. Thus the earlier and later interoperated details might feel like two different events making you believe that you have seen it before rather it is your first experience.

Hologram theory. Many researchers believe that déjà vu has to do a lot with the way your brain process and recall a memory. It is believed that déjà vu can happen in response to an event that resembles something you’ve experienced before but doesn’t remember it. Our memory is stored in the form of a hologram and in a hologram, you only need one fragment to see the complete visual. This is a feeling of familiarity with no recollection. Thus your brain recalls something similar but your conscious mind fails to remember it, hence you experience déjà vu.

Are memories false?

False memories are the memories that you believe to be true but in actuality are false. For example, you believe that you have left the stove open before going to work but when you return, you realize you haven’t. False memories are a shift or reconstruction of old memories that don’t align with the true events.

One form to generate false memory is Suggestion. Suggestions happen when memory is implanted by an external opinion. For instance, if you saw an accident of a car and a bike, and if someone asks you whether or not the car driver was wearing a blue jacket or red, you would answer red and then quickly correct it by saying blue or maybe vice versa. When in reality the car owner wasn’t even wearing a jacket. This happened because in the moment of panic someone asked you a brief detail that you didn’t notice but your brain confuses it with the details of the question asked. Thus, the jacket incident is a false memory in your brain that you remember as true. The second is Misattribution. This happens when your brain assembles different events into a singular memory. And thus when you recall it, all those unique events start playing together. So the detail of one event intertwines with another forming false detail. This jumbled or confused timeline with the assortment of several events is now a singular memory in your brain. Sometimes our emotions also play a key role in forming a false memory. Negative emotion usually leaves false memory than a positive experience.

There are 86 a billion neurons in the human brain, all of which work together. Each neuron communicates with the other neurons to form circuits and share information. And proper function requires each neuron to play its part properly. But sometimes these synchronized events are disrupted and hence cause the malfunctioning of the circuit leading us to experience things that we may find odd from our day-to-day life but that doesn’t mean it’s not explainable. 

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