• Question: atoms and molecules make up everything including our brain, so how can thought exist? also everything we see is filtered through our brains so how do we know if anything is real if we're just seeing it through our brain that could be playing tricks on us? and also- last one, whats the difference between your brain and your mind?

    Asked by sunish to Anna, Hayley, Iain, Rebecca, Sascha on 25 Jun 2015.
    • Photo: Iain Bethune

      Iain Bethune answered on 25 Jun 2015:


      Wow, tricky questions Sunish.

      As far as I know, our thoughts exist as electrical impulses travelling around our brain (which is made up of a network of neurones connected together by synapses). So it’s not just the static arrangement of the atoms and molecules that matter, but the dynamic ever-changing interaction of them that give rise to our thoughts.

      At the end of the day, we have absolutely no way of knowing whether anything we observe with our senses is real, or if we are just a ‘brain in a jar’ with the appropriate sensory inputs being fed directly into our nervous system. Something like what happened in “The Matrix”… I tend to believe this is not the case, but there is no way of telling – and if so, what difference would it make?

      The theory of mind is a very complex area, but at least my understanding is that the brain is the physical stuff (atoms, molecules) and the structures that they are arranged into. The mind is the consciousness that seems the emerge (we don’t exactly know how) from this arrangement, and is connected with the very dynamic interactions between components in the brain, and outside stimuli.

      Hope that helps to understand – it certainly got me thinking!

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