WHERE IS THE mind? Where does your consciousness reside? Is it solely a product of your brain? A biologist would likely say yes, since the brain is the only thing the scientist can see, examine, and experiment with. If the mind, or consciousness, is merely the output of the brain, however, how are we to explain the extraordinary cases of fully functional people who have half a brain or very little brain matter at all?
- A 39-year-old woman in China was found, to her doctors’ surprise, to have just half a brain, on the right side. The left side of her brain was completely missing, yet she lives a completely normal life, having completed high school with good grades. The only reason her doctors found out was because the woman came to them complaining of a feeling of weakness. What puzzled the doctors most was that the left side of the brain is commonly thought to control language, “but this patient has no problem communicating with people," said the hospital’s director of Neural Rehabilitation Department.
- A 44-year-old man in France was discovered to have only a thin shell of a brain. Most of his skull was filled only with fluid, leaving room for just the slightest sheet of actual brain tissue. He had a below-average IQ of 75, but was an otherwise normal civil service worker and a married father of two children.
- A low IQ isn’t always the result of this anomaly, however. A mathematics university student in Sheffield, U.K., who had an IQ of 126, had virtually no brain at all. A CAT scan revealed that the boy had less than a millimeter of cerebral tissue covering the top of his spinal column.
If the brain really is the seat of function, consciousness and personality, then these people should be vegetables or, at best, severely disabled. Yet they are anything but. Certainly, many people who are the victims of brain trauma through accident are disabled, or worse, become vegetables (or die). Yet remarkable people like those mentioned above thrive. It could be because their “abnormality” occurred not as the result of trauma, but slowly over time, or at birth. This allowed the brain to adapt, to hand over its high functions to smaller and smaller vestiges of brain matter.
Even so, how can a fully functional, perfectly normal mind remain?
THE HOLOGRAPHIC BRAIN
The answer might be found in the consciousness rather than the brain. The consciousness of these people has obviously been unaffected by their diminishing or non-existent brains, suggesting that the two may indeed be separate things. The brain may be a mechanism that expresses consciousness, much like a radio can make a broadcast audible, yet they are two different things. If true, than how can an almost non-existent brain mechanism continue to express consciousness?
Michael Talbot theorizes the answer in his groundbreaking book, The Holographic Universe. The brain, he says (recounting the research of neurophysiologist Karl Pribram), might work like a hologram. A hologram is a three-dimensional photograph, and if you break it into pieces, each piece of that hologram contains the entire original photo. So, too, might the brain, no matter how small a piece of it remains, be able to completely express what a whole one can.
So what does all of this have to do with the paranormal?
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