Brain thoughts

As vertebrate embryo grows, the development of its brain and spinal cord is controlled by complex and precisely regulated patterns of gene activity. Writing in Nature Lacalli ( Nature 2003, vol 424 , pp263-4) reviews a paper discussing the genes responsible for patterning the body along its antero-posterior axis (that is, from front to back), notably Hox genes and the like. These genes are highly conserved in evolution, with similar expression patterns in animals and such anatomically different creatures as insects and vertebrates. Insects and vertebrates are advanced members, respectively, of the two major divisions of animals, protostomes and deuteros tomes
These genes are expressed in the vertebrate brain and spinal cord and appear on the surface nerve net of a closely related group of invertebrates.
Understanding of the brain is fundamental to nutrition but is so complex as to be daunting If the brain has a common evolutionary basis with worms where in all of this comes the characteristics of the human brain. Intelligence, thought, creativity , emotions, wanting, perception of self, language, understanding free will , communication to name but a few.
Baum in his book “What is thought” published by Bradford Books 2004 , MIT Press Cambridge Massachusetts proposes a computational explanation of thought. That life must be explainable at a fundamental level by physics and chemistry, Baum argues that the complexity of mind is the outcome of evolution, which has built thought processes that act unlike the standard algorithms of computer science, and that to understand the mind we need to understand these thought processes and the evolutionary process that produced them in computational terms.
Baum proposes that underlying mind is a complex but compact program that corresponds to the underlying structure of the world. He argues further that the mind is essentially programmed by DNA. We learn more rapidly than computer scientists have so far been able to explain because the DNA code has programmed the mind to deal only with meaningful possibilities. Thus the mind understands by exploiting semantics, or meaning, for the purposes of computation; constraints are built in so that although there are myriad possibilities, only a few make sense. Evolution discovered corresponding subroutines or shortcuts to speed up its processes and to construct creatures whose survival depends on making the right choice quickly. Baum argues that the structure and nature of thought, meaning, sensation, and consciousness therefore arise naturally from the evolution of programs that exploit the compact structure of the world.
He draws heavily on that basic principle oft disregarded in Nutrition namely Occam’s razor, the dictum of the 14th Century philosopher, “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily”, and he is looking for straight forward simple laws to govern this complexity. His other basic rule is Bayesian statistics which is a rational way of calculating and revising probabilities and beliefs during change .The concept of meaningful possibilities which he relates to the flexibility of change during evolution. It makes sense that brain structure is modelled on a template of DNA. The complex inter connections by which the brain functions are a different matter. Theories based on systems that we have created e.g. the computer are forms of anthropomorphism. Heady or even brainy stuff
It does not help us however with .
Where does consciousness start?.
What is thought or creativity?
Why do some have convergent and others divergent minds?
If we ensure that the developing mind receives a sufficiency of long chain fatty acids and other nutrients what element of intelligence do we improve or is it an overall improvement. Is creativity or memory changed? Does the spectrum of long chain fatty acids matter.? .

Martin Eastwood
Back to top