Some science behind the scenes

Brain as hardware

The brain is not one big memory board. Computers do not work on memory they work via circuitry and the brain is an exceptionally complex piece of electronic circuitry

Different parts of the brain have different processing capabilities. So some logic circuits are good at processing language some are good at processing images, some are good with spatial aspects. Just like a computer, different logic circuits are used to perform different activities. So when the ‘software’ needed to perform some activity has been developed [learnt and created] then it is executed by the different processors in the brain. 

The 19th-century French anatomist Paul Broca was one of the first scientists to offer definitive evidence that—while there is no single seat of thought—specific cognitive functions are processed in localized regions of the brain. In 1861 Broca met a patient who had been given the nickname "Tan," because "tan" was the only syllable he had been able to utter for the past 21 years. When Tan died, an autopsy revealed that a portion of his left frontal lobe about the size of a golf ball had been liquefied by a massive stroke years before. This was subsequently named Broca’s area – a processor capable of handling speech.

A few years later German neurologist Carl Wernicke identified a second language centre farther back, in the brain's left temporal lobe. Patients with strokes or other damage to Wernicke's area are able to talk freely, but they cannot comprehend language, and nothing they say makes any sense.

In essence, there is special circuitry required to for example speak or comprehend words or handle the images received from the eye. Special circuitry is also needed to handle other functions

Until recently, damaged brains were the best source of information about the origins of normal cognitive function. A World War I soldier with a small-bore bullet wound in the back of his head might also, for instance, have a vacancy in his field of vision caused by a corresponding injury in his visual cortex.

The left brain/right brain separation is real in the sense that different forms of circuitry have been placed in different areas. However, just like a computer, the fact that one part of the circuitry is damaged does not mean that other circuitry cannot take over.

Just like a computer, however, we should be aware that just because a circuit is there does not mean that is where the software is …………….


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