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Neurobiology and Behavior, Week 1

Paul Grobstein's picture

Welcome to the on-line forum associated with the Biology 202 at Bryn Mawr College. Its a way to keep conversations going between course meetings, and to do so in a way that makes our conversations available to other who may in turn have interesting thoughts to contribute to them. Leave whatever thoughts in progress you think might be useful to others, see what other people are thinking, and add thoughts that that in turn generates in you.

Your're free to write about whatever came into your mind this week, but if you need something to get you started, what do you think of the idea that everything we talk about, the sky, the self, the mind, is a construction of the brain?

mcchen's picture


 Even though the idea that everything we talk about is a construction of the brain confuses me, I can see how it is a legitimate way to approach the way we think.  Ultimately, everything we see and know is a construction of the brain because it is our perception of the object and the way we see and interpret things interferes with how we can understand them.  What confuses me is that if everything is really just "a construction of the brain" then is it considered an illusion? Are we all just under the same illusion if we believe certain phenomenon such as time? 

kgould's picture

I reject your reality...

Try looking at it in terms of scientific theories. 

A scientific theory, as assessed by a scientist, is a hypothesis which largely holds true with repeated testing. One has to acknowledge, however, that new information may come in the future that proves that hypothesis to be false. Despite that, without having some kind of framework to base other experiments off of, it is very hard to make any kind of progress.

In that same way, I think we can look out our world and agree that the perspective that makes up the majority is usually conceded to be "real." For a long time the Earth was regarded as a flat object. It had edges that one could sail off of, into oblivion. This disc lay on the back of four elephants, which themselves stood on the back of a giant turtle that flew through space. Lacking any other evidence to the contrary, most people agreed that yes, the Earth was flat. And at that point in time, that was the reality. 

It was only after further explorations took place and more observations were made that the majority came to the consensus that no, actually, the Earth was round-ish. That is now our reality.

(But, as Professor Grobstein may remind you, very few of us in this class have made direct observations that the Earth is round: sailed or flew around the world in one go, been to space, so on.)

Without any other evidence, it makes sense to view the Earth as round.

I'm sorry if that was confusing. I recommend reading Oliver Sack's "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat," which gives some interesting views on perspective (HAH).