2 Studies Show Waves Impact Our Memory and How the Brain Processes Information
These ocean-like waves aren’t the brainwaves you might be thinking of either
Two functions of the human brain have long stumped us. First is the contextual awareness of our senses. For instance, why do we sometimes register a flash of light or a sound off in the distance, but not always? Secondly, how does the brain combine different information into a single cohesive memory?
Amazingly, scientists — from two different studies published only months apart — may have found the answer, and it points to the existence of ocean-like waves across our brains.
The Brain is So Much More than A Computer
Since its invention, the computer has become the go-to analogy for explaining how the brain processes information. I’m sure you’re familiar with it.
The idea is that when we sense something, like a noise or light, special cells in our brain detect the information, then stationary neurons pass the info along from one neuron to the next like a relay to wherever it’s needed. Plus, both our brains and computers are programmed, they both use electricity, and our neural networks are often compared to a computer’s circuitry.
Still, the computer analogy can only go so far, and I think it’s safe to say we know our brains are far superior and more complex than any computer existing today. For instance, this widespread model can’t explain why sensory cells react very differently to the same stimuli in various conditions.
If our brain were solely like a computer, context wouldn’t matter. If you noticed a light in your periphery, then you’d always see it, even when intently focused on something else — but that’s not how the brain works. Our attention changes, our focus shifts, and our ability to process information depend on an array of variables, including how rested we are.
This suggests the neural-relay system isn’t the only way the brain processes information. There must be something else happening to allow the context of a situation to impact how we process information in the brain — finally we might have an answer.