Follow-up to previous post: “Brain’s Wiring: More Like the Internet Than a Pyramid?”

on August 10, 2010

As each socially-based vision develops and broadens in scope, the abstract model that it offers for society comes to be applied to other areas as well.

Case in point: Three days ago, I put up an entry suggesting that the “inverted pyramid” model underlying the democracy vision — in which authority comes from the base but power is still exerted from the top down — is giving way to a multiculturalism-derived model of society as a flexible network of relationships with no center of control.

Today, I find an article at Science Daily saying exactly the same thing — but with respect to a new study of brain organization in rats:

The study shows the power of a new method for tracing brain circuits. …

The circuits showed up as patterns of circular loops, suggesting that at least in this part of the rat brain, the wiring diagram looks like a distributed network.

Neuroscientists are split between a traditional view that the brain is organized as a hierarchy, with most regions feeding into the “higher” centers of conscious thought, and a more recent model of the brain as a flat network similar to the Internet.

“We started in one place and looked at the connections. It led into a very complicated series of loops and circuits. It’s not an organizational chart. There’s no top and bottom to it,” said [Larry W.] Swanson, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Milo Don and Lucille Appleman Professor of Biological Sciences at USC College. …

“There is an alternate model. It’s not proven, but let’s rethink the traditional way of regarding how the brain works,” he said.

“The part of the brain you think with, the cortex, is very important, but it’s certainly not the only part of the nervous system that determines our behavior.”

According to the article, Swanson has been arguing for this model of the brain as a distributed network since 2003 — an interesting date, since it would correspond to the upsurge in holistic approaches at the start of the 60’s.

The idea that consciousness is not actually running the show is also striking and ties in with certain aspects of the emerging creative imagination vision.

For those reasons, I have no doubt that we’re seeing an important paradigm shift in progress, and that further examples will continue to show up. Stay tuned.


A listing of all my posts on the cycle of visions can be found here.

A general overview of the areas of interest covered at this blog can be found here.

A chronological listing of all entries at this blog, with brief descriptions, can be found here.

A simple list of all the visions can be found here.

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