The fundamental fact about individuality is the uniqueness of the internal development of the ‘circuitry’ of each human brain or ‘personal mind’. The internal neuronic connections of any person’s brain, differs from that of any other. The great questions for future neuroscience will surely involve research into the differences that cause what we may call a ‘sane brain’ and a ‘deviant brain’. This will eventually necessitate a very broad cross-disciplinary science which studies the formation of cognitive processes and their causes – genetic and environmental. One fruitful avenue of research should be the investigation of the entire range of cognitive disorders, including the strong projections from which so many of the population suffer in investing their hopes and beliefs in bogus solutions to life problems, not least – of course – religious doctrines, stricter political ideologies and all manner of false belief system, conspiracy theory and deranged ideals.
The huge variety of human culture arise from the diversity of individual minds which usually operate within the parameters of some collective entity – a society, a nation, a sub-culture. Individual diversity is the key datum about the living brain. This arises through the brain’s flexibility in handling all impulses it receives. The information (or data) is processed along known lines, yet where and how information is stored varies greatly from person to person, it being initially fragmented for its component parts to be stored in different areas of the cortex. How all these billions of data are encoded and stored – and how they are related to one another through the vast complex of neural circuits – is unique to each individual brain. ‘No two minds think alike’ expresses how this fact makes itself known even to people who have no concept of neurology. Further, though our brains have the same physiological nature and work in the same ways, they do not grow and develop at the same rate in everyone.
Memory is a main cerebral function and there are various systems by which the brain achieves encoding, storage, retrieval and not to forget the equally important function of forgetting. That we can forget is an essential to our ability to change, because it is now established that our memories – which condition our behavior and shape our aims etc. – are not ‘set in stone’ but are constantly undergoing modification as neural circuits are renewed through recollection or repetition or else fade due to not being activated. Even people with powerful and almost all-enveloping obsessional or compulsive mindsets can and do change, due to the possibility of replacement of ingrained memories by gradual modification. There are of course numerous therapeutic techniques which can help achieve this, and neurology is gradually providing understanding of the physical and genetic basis of fruitful mind therapy. (The popular book ‘Brain Rules’ underpins much of the views expressed here (see Brain Rules: Brain development for parents, teachers and business …) as the quote (inset) illustrates.)
In respect of all this, note that an International Conference will be held in Jerusalem on ‘Neuroplasticity and Cognitive Modifiability‘ (Jerusalem, 10-13 March 2013) at which a host of prominent experts will attend. The Conference prospective: “Scientific advancements in conceptualization and technology make new tools available for professionals facing medical, psychological, educational, and societal problems of human beings. This conference brings together revolutionary developments in two disciplines: cognitive modifiability and the neurosciences. Neuroscience brings evidence that modifiability is possible, and cognitive modifiability shows how to make it happen. This meeting offers the opportunity for a worldwide gathering of scientists, practitioners, therapists, and educators who come from different professional perspectives, but share common interests to explore and become familiar with the developments in these related fields. The common theme is modifiability. Revolutionary developments in brain sciences support the theory and belief that basic human behaviors and functions can be modified.“