CHAOTIC BRAIN AND ORDERED THOUGHTS

The general belief is that logical operations are made to process information in our brain. Chaos scientists say that our brain works in unpredictable and random ways, and the secret of brain function can be found in chaos theory. They say, brain is a chaotic system that is intricately related by internal feedback. The concept of ‘self-organised criticality’ has been used to understand chaotic brain behaviour. Self-organised critical phenomena are driven by their intrinsic dynamic systems to reach a critical state, independently of the value of any control parameter. The perfect example of a self-organised critical system is a sand pile. As grains build up, the pile grows in a predictable way up to a certain point. Then suddenly the pile collapses. Though unpredictable, the overall individual distribution of sand is regular. The state of self-organised criticality lies right on the boundary between stable, orderly behaviour, and the unpredictable chaotic world.  Disorder is essential to the brain’s ability to transmit information and solve problems, say neuroscientists.

Neuroscientists say that our brains work in ‘forest on fire’ mode. In a forest fire, one burning tree sets alight another one. That is why the whole forests don’t catch fire all at once. The brain often synchronises large groups of neurons to fire at the same frequency. This ‘phase locking’ process allows communication of different ‘task forces’ of neurons among themselves without interference from others. During the process there is always a possibility of neurons firing out of sync due to interspersing of the stable periods of phase-locking with unstable periods. Neurons die if they are not used for a long time. To ensure their proper function they must be fired from time to time. Random firing of inactive neurons is a good way to maintain neuronal health. Chaotic brains can have ordered thoughts. It means our random thoughts are not really random. Mark Twain said, “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

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