Exploring the Hidden Functions of my Brain11 Apr 2017 4 mins read (800 words)
Today I had a thought that crossed my mind while I was on my run to the Hudson river. It was this was my first run this season since I stopped because of the winter weather. But I realized that my body missed this activity as I re-experienced the enlightenment that occurs when all your body’s metabolic cycles function at an increased pace, an you get oxygenated blood flooding into your brain. During these moments, I like to reflect on things and come out of whatever mental bubble I have trapped myself in the last few days.
One thing that decided to do for the sake of relaxing my eye and letting them “breath” was to take off my prescription glasses at −7 deportees (which means pretty bad nearsightedness) and take a run in a blurry world. I found that by decreasing my sensory input through the act of taking off the “device” that corrects my farsightedness and going for a run — increases the usage of some of my cognitive abilities — that would not have been engaged if had my glasses on. I realized that by depriving my visual perception, I become engaged in a more cognitively demanding processes.
For example, when I evaluate whether I should cross the road or not, I no longer evaluate my environment by mere observation and looking. My brain now has to engage in a new process; which takes what is perceived through my lacking vision, and makes an assessment of whether I should cross the road, or not. In other words, the sense that I took for granted my whole entire life (I’ve been wearing glasses constantly since the age of 6), is now lacking and now my brain attempts to think for and recover the lost information.
Another thing that I found interesting, was the way in which I try to assess my location through the use of memory and mental images. Usually, I will try to look at something familiar on a street; such as for a familiar coffee shop, and this would have helped me to orient myself and know where I am. Without my glasses however, I no longer have the extent of this ability. There are certainly streets that I know by heart, but there are other streets where I might have crossed only a few times, and which I would have recognized with glasses on, but no without them.
While trying to recognize my surroundings with my glasses off, I found that I start to increasingly rely on recalling and remembering very abstract feelings about a particular street or location. I would no longer actively swing my back and forth like a radar that is in need of a constant update of its surroundings, but I would for the most part stare at giant blur in front of me. This of course sometimes fails an makes me bump into certain obstacles on the ground. In these situations I found that I started to rely on some sort of mapping ability, or a sense that comes with my brain. I also felt a sort of a cognitive fatigue while using this sense, probably because I don’t use it as much in my day-to-day life and always remains inactive.
Now, I am no neurologist nor a physiologist so I probably won’t provide any accurate scientific assessments. But I do find the subject about the brain very interesting. And since I own my own brain and have engaged in its usage my whole entire life, I can talk about as it as a user.1
I believe that the brain is like a tool, a device that we use our whole life. It is just like an iPhone that you get when your are born, which you use your whole life but also explore and experiment with. There are no instructions to the brain, it is up to you what you do it. What you get out of your brain, and what you decide to do and not do with it, is your decision as its user. By limiting my sense of vision, I found out the interesting ways in which my brain adapts to what it no longer has, or is being deprived from. The brain never stops learning and adapting. And experiencing this form of adaptation subjectively – can definitely be a reason that makes this life fascinating and worthwhile.
This could be debated in 40-50 years, when perhaps, even the ownership of a brain will be questioned. This is not just a cynical joke about the future of a possible dystopian form of technocapitilism, but I do think that these questions will eventually arise in a posthuman future where cybernetics and body brain augmentations become a common occurrence. It will be a question of who owns the augmentations. ↩