April 27, 2023

Limited Knowledge and the Brain

Timothy Birdnow

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, they say. We live in an era of very limited knowledge boldly proclaimed as wisdom.

When a baby is gestating it produces multiple synaptic connections, far more than it requires.

Between the ages of 2 and 10 the child's brain loses HALF of all it's synaptic connections in a process called synaptic pruning.

This tells me something. It suggests to me that the person is far, far greater than what he will become in this particular life alone. He has the potential to be so many different things, to develop in so many different ways. In fact his body is an endless well of potential. It is the occupation by a spirit that prunes away the possibilities and molds the person.

That and their unique experiences on Earth.

In many ways we don't start out as just empty vessels but rather as overful ones. The conscious mind is overwhelmed. To make sense of reality it must chop back the endless possibilities, the multiple perceptions and capabilities. That forms the person, but it also limits them.

One wonders what would happen if these synapses weren't pruned away?

One also wonders about the nature of this; children often have very lively fantasy worlds, with imaginary friends, with magical thinking, etc. Is this a coefficient of the multiple neural pathways they need to shed? Are they living multiple lives? Certainly people with multiple personality disorder (very rare) do; is that a function of their not pruning the multiple synaptic connections?

I think this is a fascinating bit of science that many overlook. And it dovetails with metaphysics. Who are we? Are we the sum of our parts or is the sum of our parts a reflection of who we are? I think this suggests the latter; our bodies conform to us, become what we are as individuals. We are not just hard-wired. It takes our shape over time. Of course events can help shape that, and no doubt our bodies can help shape our personality as well. I think there is synergy.

We often think of life as a kind of testing ground, and a school. If so, is it not true perhaps that we can shape our brains? We know we can; Jeffrey Schwarz's work on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder patients and mindful meditation show that by an act of will we can alter the architecture of the brain. This is probably even more true of the young, whose brains are more plastic than in old codgers. So we make ourselves who and what we choose, and our bodies help make us fit into them.

And our bodies help us fit into the world around us, which determines who we are to no small degree. The soldiers of the Second World War were molded by the hardships of Depression and war. Take an old vet from that time and put him in a kid's body today and he'll be a different man. He'll still be himself, but different.

God says in the Bible that He knew us in the womb. That comports with this well; it suggests we shape our bodies after being placed in them. Not the other way around.

At any rate, the whole transgendered business suggests a brain that has failed somehow to find it's physical pathways. Like Multiple Personality Disorder the child struggles with vestigial neural pathways that confuse the kid. That will prune away in time. But we are now altering the body of children when it is their brains that are still shedding possible neural paths. It would correct itself in time.

But by altering their bodies we will alter the process of synaptic pruning, and that will lead to all sorts of problems as the child is not growing into himself.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, they say. Our society has become very, very dangerous.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 08:50 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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