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One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of the human brain. After a particularly lacklustre discussion in my religion class, our teacher gave us an extra writing assignment. “Who is responsible,” she posed to the class, “for the loss of life at Jonestown and Waco?” (These were both disasters involving apocalyptic sects.) After concluding in my paper that they were everyone’s fault, I was still left with questions. What makes certain people susceptible to ideas that most people would consider ludicrous, like fundamental or heavily apocalyptic religion?
Hoping for some clue, I took Human Physiology, knowing that most the term would be spent on the nervous system. I learned more about serotonin and dopamine, but not much else. At least I had discovered even experts understood little of the human brain. Our brain is an utterly fascinating organ. It is the only body part that can contemplate itself; while we use all of our brains, very little of it is mapped. Depending on how we use our brains, they are literally rewired as neurons strengthen and create synapses that we use and destroy the ones we don’t.
But that strategy seems limiting. Will history majors lose the ability to recall and explain the periodic table from memory, because theirs brains are not wired for chemistry? Is everyone’s brain wired from birth the same, or do we all start off differently as well? So many questions, too few answers. The brain is apparently also the only organ that can be completely baffled by itself.
I decided while going through a weight circuit at the gym (of all times) that my gift to the world will be a better understanding of how the human brain works. While mystery is a wonderful thing in monitored quantities, from as far as I can gather we’re in nearly complete ignorance of the power of the supercomputer in our skulls. Primarily, because my studies are rooted in an internal interest, I would like to understand the effect spirituality or religious beliefs have on a human brain. Do all religions run on the same neural paths, or is there a difference between Western and Eastern religion, or even between different branches of the same religion. That answer may be far off, and for the sake of not being a starving academic, I will delve further into the increasingly popular field of sports psychology. Most things in this arena are fairly logical. Pride lasts longer than pain for example is something any athlete who has won a hard fought contest can attest to. But the field lacks individuality. Why, for instance, do I need to really mellow out before a race when some of my team-mates do everything in their power to psyche up? Is this difference caused because our brains are wired differently, or is one party wrong? The important thing is to not stop questioning, as Einstein said.
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