I gave myself a brain workout the other day. A song came on the radio and I thought about who the singer was. His first name made me think of another singer with the same first name and I thought about the second singer’s first and last name; then I thought about songs sung by the second artist. This made me think of songs with the same title by another artist and the location in which that artist resided. This led to me thinking about a holiday I took in that location and the music I enjoyed while traveling. The mind map1 looks like this:
Surrounding all of this process is the consciousness which allowed me to see this as it happened and now analyze it again two days later. It is a consciousness that allows me to analyze not only the logical steps but the emotions of the process as well. At a further level, I find myself thinking about the neurons which must connect to make this whole progression work. What would that look like in my brain? Where are the various bits of information stored? How are they retrieved? At certain points I used conversation with my wife and the internet as external inputs to speed along the process. How does the brain assimilate all of this material and pull it together in a logical package?
These and others are the questions being asked in contemporary brain science investigations. Consciousness, and why it exists, is still a great unexplored territory. This kind of consciousness appears to be unique to humans. We seem to be the only species on the planet capable of thinking about thinking and being aware of our understanding and our limitations. At some point we may have a more complete answer to some of the questions posed; yet, we can expect that there will always be a degree of mystery. This mystery rightly points to the Creator who has made humans a project unique among all created things.
1. The mind map also illustrates the limitations of the brain. In my mind, the last name was spelled “Holme” but my brain had stored it with an incorrect spelling. It is really spelled “Holm.”