How does the brain enable me to see and/or feel the things I’m thinking about?

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How does the brain enable me to see and/or feel the things I’m thinking about?

In: Biology

I don’t think we really know yet. The mind / body problem has been a philosophical problem for some time. However, we kind of know how seeing works. The cells in the retina converts light into nerve signals that are sent to the brain. The brain has cells that signal when edges, angles, or movement is detected. But once you get higher than that we kind of lose the ability to track it. There might be a ‘grandmother’ cell that fires only when you see your grandmother but maybe not. More likely it is a collection of neural firings. How do we know that the collection of edges and angles we see is a ‘chair’ . Well, it probably is because each brain is trained up on examples of chairs that it has been exposed to. When we see something like a chair, our neural net fires in a pattern. If that pattern is close to the trained up pattern for ‘chair’ then we say ‘that is a chair’. Office chairs, rocking chairs, folding chairs, all would trigger a strong ‘chair’ pattern. A bar stool might not match as well but we know it is related, maybe on the far end of the example pattern. People who have never seen a chair would have trouble identifying what it was for and what it was and would also have trouble determining that a folding chair is in the same category as an office chair.

because the brain *is* you. Your brain is full of centers (optical center, center for sound, center for smell, etc.). We have senses (eyes, ears, etc.) which absorbs signals from outside, from the world, and then transfer those signals into impulses that go to the corresponding centers inside our brain. Then the brain makes sense of those impulses/information. And that’s how you see, how you hear, etc.

You can think of the brain as a performer. On the one hand, it has moments where it does a real live show – actually experiencing something through sight or touch. On the other hand, it can rehearse and plan for the real deal to give it an advantage for the big show.

This rehersal occurs through memory. You have seen an apple before, so when you imagine biting an apple, your brain rehearses the sight, smell, and taste of your previous experience. The reason it exists is because it actually can help you improve on performance and prepare in advance to give you a survival advantage.

There are lots of cool studies that show if you imagine doing something new before you do it, you are better at it when you actually try the thing (e.g. [https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/716357v1](https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/716357v1) )