Here’s a thought I had (some of which is speculation):
I have always spoken of “neural tension”. This refers to when a part or parts of the brain matter are as if ‘energized’. By this I mean it is very active. It is active in order to prepare to carry out a specific function. But nothing happens til it is needed. Its activeness, though, as if makes the brain ready to respond. As a result, “neural tension” is like a rubber band, a “tension”, that is waiting to be released. Since part of the brain is ‘energized’ it is ready to unleash all the capabilities of that part of the brain. Reflex action, on the other hand, is a simple circuit-like behaviour. In “neural tension” a segment, or segments, of the brain are ready to do a specific activity. As a result, it is not a ‘circuit’ at all. It seems that when the brain is energized the cells are emitting neurotransmitter and conducting electricity more. Despite this, nothing necessarily happens. In neural tension the brain that is energized can be incredibly active with no change in the creature at all.
Some of the things “neural tensions” makes creatures do include:
- To be aware of their surroundings.
- To be ready to respond.
- To be continually aware of threats.
- To search for things, hunt, etc.
- To do specific activities.
THE CONDITION OF “NEURAL TENSION”
“Neural tension” allows a ‘directedness’ in behaviour. It ‘energizes’ the parts of the brain that are needed to do some thing and allows them to work together, like a great concert. Lets take a creature that hunts. The innate need for food ‘energizes’ many parts of the brain. One ‘energized’ part of the brain makes it conscious and aware. It looks out into the forest, listens, and walks. As it walks it does not have to think about moving, its muscles just does it automatically as that part of the brain is also ‘energized’. The “neural tension” energizes all parts of the brain that may be required to do what it requires. Even though it sits there quiet its brain is actually active . . . in “tension”. In this condition it is ready. When it see’s its prey it jumps with the ability and muscles ready to do it, all because of the “neural tension”.
The ‘energizing’ of “neural tension” seems to entail these conditions:
- A need. This causes the ‘energizing’.
- An awareness. There has to be a rise in level of consciusness to correspond to need.
- Aspects of the brain being utilized. Parts of the brain are actually being used (such as walking).
- Aspects of the brain waiting to be utilized. These are parts of the brain that are ready to be used when needed (such as jumping on an animal).
- The dormant part of brain sitting quietly. These parts are not used and, therefore, not ‘energized’.
With “neural tension” the creature does not have to concentrate on what it does, such as how its going to balance itself or walk, as it is focused on its motive. As a result, “neural tension” creates two things:
- A conscious act. This is directed toward a goal.
- An unconscious act. This is where parts of the brain are being used without conscious effort, such as keeping balance or knowing how to walk.
In that sense, “neural tension” as if harnesses many aspects of the brain for a specific purpose, those that one is in control of and those that one is not in control of. It also creates and ‘unconsciousness’ to take place. This ‘unconsciousness’ makes it so that we are unaware of many things that such as:
- How our body maintains itself.
- What our body does while doing an activity.
- It hides some awareness that we have.
- It hides some feelings that we have.
- It hides what we may think.
As a result of this, much of the activity of our bodies and mind becomes unknown to us and we often never realize that they are there at all. But, at the same time, it allows the concious part of our mind to focus on specific things. This allows us to better deal with situations in life as well as allowing us to harness our concentration for specific purposes.
THE PRE-WIRING OF “NEURAL TENSION”
Any “neural tension” must have some form of pre-wiring to work. This means that there must be an already established connection of specific parts of the brain. It seems, to me, that there are two forms:
- Innate “neural tension”. This is “neural tension” that is innate and instinctual and appears at birth.
- Learned “neural tension”. This is “neural tension” that develops from learning and experience. Most certainly, it begins with the innate form and is modified due to learning.
This shows that ‘neural tension’ is not set in concrete but something that is variable and can change with experience.
What determines and causes ‘energizing’? It seems that a number of things do:
- Normal wakefullness. The natural requirements of wakefullness require a degree of ‘energizing’.
- Activity. No matter what you do all forms of activity, whether mild or severe, require ‘energizing’ in some way.
- A want or need. Any want or need is going to increase the ‘neural tension’ of specific areas.
- Environmental stimuli. Sensation of any form creates ‘neural tension’ of specific areas of the brain.
- Interior simuli. Sensations from ones body creates ‘neural tension’ similar to environmental stimuli.
- Conscious and deliberate activity. When one does something with deliberate effort it ‘energizes’ aspects of the brain.
These all seem to show that ‘energizing’ seems to have two causes:
- The maintaining of ones awareness and consciusness.
- As a form of reaction whether it be interior or exterior in origin.
THE VARIABILITY OF “NEURAL TENSION” – FINDING THE BEST ‘COMBINATION OF NEURAL TENSION’
The ‘neural tension’ has many forms and varieties depending on what it is being used for. This shows that there are many variations of ‘energizing’.
‘Energizing’ can entail many aspects of the brain:
- One part may be ‘energized’. This is probably seen only in very specific forms of behaviour.
- Multiple parts can be ‘energized’. This is probably more prevalent.
Because there are many parts that can be energized there are many different combinations available, particularly on creatures with more complex brains. In fact, its probably almost endless. This tendency to variability shows that there are two types of ‘energizing’:
- Active – The ‘energized’ part of the brain.
- Passive – The ‘dormant’ part of the brain. This is the part that is not ‘energized’ but can be if needed.
The passive part of the brain is more than likely somewhat ‘asleep’ in that it has to be ‘awakened’ (that is, ‘energized’) to go into action. In other words, it may not be ready to work immediately.
There are probably levels to how the passive part of the mind is ‘awakened’ (that is, ‘energized’):
- A natural ‘energizing’. It easily is ‘awakened’, probably because it is associated with the function of the current ‘energizing’.
- A difficulty in awakening. This would cause some hesitation in reaction.
- Can’t awaken. This would refer to how that part of the brain can’t get be ‘energized’ for some reason (such as that it will only be awakened under specific stimuli).
The active/passive association probably allows the brain to organize functions and cababilities allowing for a better use of all the brains functions. This makes sense as the brain has many many capabilities and functions to perform. All these can’t be working all the time.
In many ways, much of learning in life is nothing but finding the correct areas of the brain to be ‘energized’ in the correct combination, intensity, and way for a specific function. In other words, we are trying to find the best ‘combination of neural tension’. Of course, the brain does this all on its own without our effort or knowing as part of the natural progress of growth.
Because of all the variability between people (skill, aptitude, etc.) the finding of the ‘correct combination’ has its variations from person to person. That is to say, some peoples combination may work better than others. This gives for great variation in the development of people.
Since some of the brain can be ‘energized’, and some not, it suggests that there are ‘centers’ in the brain. That is to say, there are specific areas that do certain functions when ‘energized’. This seems to be the case for many functions but its not true completely. In actuality, there seems to be a variability with ‘centers’ creating a spectrum something like:
A ‘center’. This refers to a specific spot, physiologially, on the brain.
A ‘localization’. This refers to an area that spreads over a larger part of the brain that entails several ‘centers’.
A ‘generalization’. This refers to a more overall ‘energizing’ of a large part, or even all, of the brain, encompassing a great many ‘centers’.
DEGREES OF “NEURAL TENSION”
There are most certainly degress of energizing. That is to say, it isn’t just ‘energized’ but there are low level energizing and hi level energizing with variations. This would also change from second to second as conditions change. In some respects, “neural tension”, with all these variabilities and degrees’, becomes like a great symphony in the brain with some ‘centers’ rising, while others fall, some coming on gradually, and so on.
THE ‘CONTROL OF IMPULSES’ – CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE SELF
The ‘energized’ brain is very active but nothing happens, until needed. As a result we see the element of ‘control of impulses’. In other words there is like a ‘gate’ that allows things to happen that as if directs reaction. This would require a ‘gatekeeper’. This would be a part of ourselves that controls things, determines what does what, how we respond and what we do. This, really, is the self. This would mean that the control of ‘neural tension’ is a big factor in the creation, development, and existence of the self.
But where is this self? Where is it located in the brain?
From what I have so far seen I do not feel that there is a ‘seat of the self’, at least physically. That is to say, there is no ‘spot’ or ‘center’ on the brain where the self is located. Its amazing how a large part of the cortex can be destroyed but the self still functions (though ineffectively because some of the cortex’s functions don’t work well).
The only time the self is truly affected is when consciousness is disrupted in the brain. This shows a strong relation between “neural tension”, the self, and consciousness. This is not surprising as, in many ways, any “neural tension” is a heightening of consciousness, or a type of consciousness, so that the self can use it. In other words, when a part of the brain is ‘energized’ it becomes part of the consciousness of the self. Often, though, this consciousness is not overtly known but is actually unconscious. To put it another way, ‘energizing’ makes that part of the brain easily ‘accessible’ to be used by the self which controls it. As a result, ‘energizing’ is intimately bound with consciousness. This would mean that our self and consciousness changes with the different ‘combinations of neural tension’. This, in fact, is the case, often causing a change in ones ‘state of mind’ which can range from mild to dramatic.
THE SELF = THE WHOLE BRAIN
It seems that the self is the entirety of the energizable part of the brain. This includes the active and passive ‘energized’ parts of the brain. Typically, we are only overtly conscious of the active ‘energized’ parts of the brain though. The remaining “workings” of the brain are largely unnoticed and remain unconscious. This makes it so that the self does several things:
- The self controls “neural tension”.
- The self unifies “neural tension”.
In other words, the self is something that exists over all the ‘energizable’ parts of the brain. Though it is rooted in the ‘energizable’ parts of the brain it is removed from them. No one part contains the self, though it may affect it if removed, damaged, or malformed. This means that the self is actually “above” the brain, so to speak . . . it is a part of it but removed from it. I speak of this self as the ‘neural self’.
I often feel that the self is really an illusion or, rather, it creates an illusion. What it does is create an illusion of two things:
- An illusion of constancy.
- An illusion of unity.
These are major elements in what the self does. It creates an illusion, or sense, that we and the world are constant and unified, a homogenous mass. It does this as the our impulses and the world is experienced in bits and pieces. The self makes it seem ‘whole’. A good example is how the ‘blind spot’ in the eye is ‘overlooked’ by the brain, as if it wasn’t there, and the brain makes ones sight appear ‘miraculously’ without a hole in it. A big part of the brain is, in fact, doing such things, creating an illusion of a constant and unified world.
I speak of this tendency of the self as the ‘illusionary self’. What this means is that our view of self, on reflection, is an illusion. We “think” we are constant and unified – a whole – but we really are not. We think we have personality, a ‘grasp’ of things, and so on, but these really don’t exist. As a result, the self is actually, in a way, a delusion. We make ourselves out far more important than we really are. Because of this, there is no center for the self in the brain . . . its actually an illusion.
This ‘illusionary self’ is primarily how we perceive ourselves. In other words, its reflection based. The ‘neural self’ is the innate self within the brain. One could say that the ‘neural self’ is the self in the brain and the ‘illusionary self’ is the self as a result of the ‘neural self’.
Because the ‘neural self’ has no real ‘center’. It behaves haphazardly in the brain but it shows some consistency and patterns of behavior such as:
- The ‘dominant combination of neural tension’. This is the ‘combination of neural tension’ that is most dominant in us that it is primarily existing in our life. This means that the different combination of ‘neural tension’ is very prevalent giving us a consistent ‘personality’.
- The variability of neural tension. This means the common changes in variability in neural tension and energizing that is not significant enough to disrupt the dominant combination.
- A change in ones state of mind. This is when the variability has changed so much that it alters the dominant combination. As a result, one can literally ‘change personalities’.
Most of our lives is lived with this ‘dominant combination of neural tension’ that is as if ‘wires’ our brain to a certain pattern of behavior. When it does this, it tends to emphasize those areas of the brain its associated with. All other areas tend to become neglected and may even wither-like and become almost useless as one ages. In other words, the ‘dominant combination of neural tension’ is a result of habit.
This ‘dominant combination of neural tension’ develops the patterns of behavior that begin to develop the sense of the ‘illusionary self’. The continual sense of constancy and unification becomes so prevalent that the illusion of a self takes root creating the self we think it is and the world we think it is in much the same that the blind spot of they eye disappears . . . an illusion.
The ‘illusionary self’ creates constancy and unity by doing a number of things such as:
- Causing reflection.
- Creating an identity.
- Creating a social image.
In effect, the ‘illusionary self’ creates what we call the ‘human reality’. It does this by ‘stretching out’ to all parts of the brain that is associated with these showing that the self is something that extends over the whole brain and is not centered on one part.
We must remember that the ‘illusionary self’ is not physical or biological, but is rooted in these and is a product of what it created. Because of this, it is something totally different. The ‘neural self’ can be compared to an automobile. The ‘illusionary self’ can be compared to the journeys made in the automobile. Though the automobile is responsible for the journeys, it is not what constitutes the journeys itself.
Because of the close association between “neural tension” and the self it shows that “neural tension” created the self. As a result, the self fluctuates with the “neural tension” and the different forms of ‘energizing’.
THE CORTEX – NEUROGLIAL CELLS
I have often speculated that the neural cortex is a “creation”, so to speak, of “neural tension”. That is to say, the cortex is a part of the brain where ‘neural tension’ can freely move from area to area creating much variability requiring the need for a self to control it.
Physically, the cortex is very similar throughout. The lower part of the brain, on the other hand, has specific areas that seem devoted to a specific function making it less variable in functioning. Often, these centers have unique physical characteristics that make it different from other parts of the brain. Because of this, there is no way a ‘self’ can control it.
But, within the cortex is a large amount of neuroglial cells. These have often been described as ‘support cells’ to the neurons. I am growing to disagree. In fact, I’ve often felt that the neuroglial cells are a major element in “neural tension” and brain functioning, though I’m still looking into how this works. If this were true then there would actually be two “forms” of brain:
- Chemical/electric circuit cells (neurons).
- Neuroglial cells.
I sometimes feel that it is the glial cells that truly make the cortex (they do make up most of its mass). I often felt that the neurons are primarily ‘wiring’ or transmitters whose function have been overrated and overvalued. This would mean that the brain is not quite the electrical/chemical mechanism it has been made out as but something more, involving biological process that, as near as I can tell, are unknown.
A speculation . . .
On thing I have speculated on is that the neuroglial cells (most likely) contain specific forms of energy, probably cellular or chemical in origin. There would be three types:
- The ‘energizing energy’. When ‘energized’ the cell may become particularly active (such as display a high metabolism) possibly emitting a specific chemical to the cells next to it, causing the other one to ‘ignite’, so to speak, and become active. As one functions and does things, this energy migrates about the cortex, moving to the areas needing to be ‘energized’. This would be the ‘energizing energy’. Here the cells are just ‘energized’ but nothing happens. These may even be a specific form of cells that do this.
- The ‘active energy’. When a reaction actually does happen the ‘energized’ cells, being ‘energized’, might more easily react to another chemical, perhaps, causing immediate reactions and responses. This is the ‘active energy’. This may involve another chemical or cell.
- The ‘self energy’. But what controls the ‘energized’ cell is the ‘self energy’ which may be a specific cell or chemical which probably always exists in all the cortex cells and that become particularly prevalent in ‘energized cells’. Once initiated they control the ‘active energy’ causing a response.
These ‘energies’ are more than likely a specific type of cell and/or a chemical. This idea would also mean that the brain has various chemicals passing between the cells that do different functions and make the cells react differently. In a way, its like the cells all have a gas pedal, brake pedal, and clutch pedal.
The ‘self energy’ would be a chemical that somehow ‘unites’ all the cells together, making them work in concert. In so doing, things are easily passed from one cell to the next causing reactions it needs. This would mean that the ‘neural self’ is actually based in a chemical found in the cells of the cortex . . . a wild idea. But we must remember that this is the ‘neural self’, it is not the ‘illusionary self’, which is the self we know as the self. The ‘illusionary self’ is the self that is only based in the ‘neural self’ (chemicals and biological processes).
This would also show that there are two main communications between the cells in the cortex:
- Side-by-side. Passing from cell to cell within the cortex.
- Long distance. The neurons ‘transmit’ the impulse of ‘energized’ cells to areas far removed in the cortex.
The former would be the easiest and most versatile communication. The latter would be the least versatile. As a result, areas of the cortex that are side by side are more likely to show associations. This appears to be the case.
THE ‘PRE-NEURAL TENSION’ CREATURES
There are creatures that still have nervous systems but have a limited “neural tension”. They seem to have a different form that is limited and restricted. This is not surprising as they have no cortex and their neural matter is primarily chemical/electrical (neurons).
- Function specific. Here the neural matter is specifically designed for a specific function with minimal learning and variability. A good example is a jellyfish.
- Varied specific. Here the neural matter is more varied allowing for learning, variability, and more complex behaviour. Despite this, their function still tends to be specific and focused on doing limited things. Good examples are fish and insects.
Some of the qualities in the ‘varied specific’ include qualities such as:
- Randomness in their behaviour. Much of their behaviour is non-specific.
- Impulse directed. Much of their behaviour is determmined by impulse.
- Immediacy. Only aware of immediate time and place.
- Limited abilities. They are generally ‘designed’ for specific and limited functions.
Its only when the creatures have larger brain mass and a cortex do we see the great compexity of ‘neural tension’ and the beginnings of a self.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen