DISTRIBUTED MEMORY: THE BRAIN IN THE HEART
You may recall that yesterday I blogged about an allegedly successful experiment in the “freezing”, or at least, “extreme cooling” of a human being, and his or her successful “reanimation.” The key to the allegedly successful experiment was, you might also recall, the removal of the patient’s blood and its replacement by an “ice-cold saline solution.” And I speculated that the whole procedure, since it was performed with the consent of the government, might have had as a hidden goal to discover what happened to that individual’s consciousness while undergoing the “procedure.” We may now also wonder if, indeed, the removal of the individual’s blood was part of my hypothesized “consciousness experiment”; was the individual’s own blood even restored to him or her? Or was it someone else’s?
We don’t know, because there was scanty information provided about the whole alleged success; we were told only that its performer, Dr. Samuel Tisherman, promises to deliver a paper on the whole thing in 2020.
But in that respect, there’s another odd story that was spotted by M.C., who is due a big thank you for sending it along:
Second Brain Found in Heart Neurons – Trust Your Gut Feelings
Now, this is not exactly new; I have in fact blogged about the unusual nature of this “heart-brain” idea before; neurons are not confined merely to the brain, but appear in the heart as well. There was, however, something that caught my eye in this article, and I rather suspect it’s what caught M.C.’s eye as well and compelled M.C. to send the article along; you’ll note that the article enumerates various cases of individuals who have received heart transplants, and whose behavior suddenly changes to embrace habits and behaviors associated with the donor of the heart. While the article does not mention them, similar experiences have been recorded for other types of organ transplants. One wonders if a similar phenomenon can be associated with blood transplants.
But in any case, what caught my attention in this article was this statement:
Neurologist Dr. Andrew Armour from Montreal in Canada discovered a sophisticated collection of neurons in the heart organised into a small but complex nervous system. The heart’s nervous system contains around 40,000 neurons called sensory neurites that communicate with the brain. Dr. Armour called it “the Little Brain in the Heart”. It has been known for many years that memory is a distributive process. You can’t localize memory to a neuron or a group of neurons in the brain. The memory itself is distributed throughout the neural system. So why do we draw a line at the brain? (Emphasis added)
This idea of distributed memory sounds a bit like a hologram, and the article quickly proceeds to try to avoid the unpleasant aspects of that by quickly trying to tie it all to good-old-fashioned-and-purely-materialistic speculations:
Other medical experts offer different explanations, but all agree that it is not so much mystical as it is science, and a science that needs further exploration.Professor Pr Paul Pearsall and Pr Gary Schwarz got together.
Professor Gary Schwartz says that “Feedback mechanisms are involved in learning. When we talk, for example, about how the brain learns, we talk about what we call neural networks in the brain. It turns out that the way a neural network works is that the output of the neurons feeds back into the input of the neurons. And this process goes over and over again. So long as the feedback is present the neurons will learn. If you cut the feedback, there is no learning in the neurons.”
The Mind is Not Just in the Brain
Dr. Candace Pert, a pharmacologist at Georgetown University believes that the mind is not just in the brain, but also exists throughout the body. This school of thought could explain such strange transplant experiences. “The mind and body communicate with each other through chemicals known as peptides. These peptides are found in the brain as well as in the stomach, in muscles and in all of our major organs. I believe that memory can be accessed anywhere in the peptide/receptor network. For instance, a memory associated with food may be linked to the pancreas or liver and such associations can be transplanted from one person to another”.
Now I’m all for feedback loops as I’ve talked about them in all sorts of contexts. And for that matter, the idea of the heart being part of a kind of “distributed brain” also appeals to me; for one thing, octopuses appear to have this type of structure to their nine brains. But more importantly, I’ve always been an advocate of the more ancient idea that human reason is not mere ratiocination, but incorporates and includes what the ancients would have called the passions, a deeper word than “emotions.” So it appeals to me for this reason as well.
But it’s that “distributed memory” idea and its “holographic” overtones that really appeals, for lurking deeply within that idea is the idea that memory is not local, existing or concentrated in this or that area of the brain, or the body. It rather as if what is implied by that idea is the opposite: that the body exists within a memory, and is imprinted with it like a psychotronic object. If it’s distributed, and non-local, then perhaps it’s also an indicator that the body, in order to be a body, is integrated at the quantum level, by quantum tunneling, perhaps, and that memory may be a function of this somehow. Whatever one makes of my speculations here, I strongly suspect that this idea of distributed memory means that those old Cartesian dualisms and epiphenomena are, like all over-simplified dualisms, going to go the way of the dodo bird, and that the relationship between the tangible physical body and the immaterial intangible world of things like memory are going to turn out to be far more complex than we imagined, and that those “feedback loops” between the two are the key.
See you on the flip side…