Monday, 30 November 2015

Our Brain Is Like a Well-Organised Library, New Research Suggests

Carl Spitzweg: The Bookworm (ca. 1850). Image courtesy of The Yorck Project:10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. Public domain.

Joel Kontinen

New research suggests that the nerve cells in our brain are connected in anything but a random manner. Instead, they “store information as efficiently as books are stored in a well-organized library,” as a press release issued by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft puts it.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics compare our brains’ wiring to a library, where books are more easily found when they “are sorted not only alphabetically by title, but also by genre and by author.”

Our brain does not look like it’s the product of blind Darwinian processes in which neurons can’t see what the neighbours are doing. In contrast, it suggests top-down planning in which there is little room for randomness.

Random connections do not suffice to explain the observed layout of the brain,” the researchers concluded.

Neuroscientists tend to be baffled at how wonderful our brains are. It seems that they just cannot think of anything man-made that could match them.

Some suspect that our brains may be designed to help us to learn to think.

Meanwhile, from a purely naturalistic perspective, consciousness is a “ghosly thing.”


Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. 2015. No cable spaghetti in the brain. (23 November).