General Question

nikipedia's avatar

How do different brain regions/structures produce different experiences?

Asked by nikipedia (27475points) October 29th, 2008

So I had a lecture on synesthesia recently, and it got me wondering how perception works, exactly. Why is it that when you send information to the visual brain areas you see, and when you send information to the auditory brain areas you hear? Is it due to structural differences between the regions? If so, which ones, and how do those work to produce that experience? Am I missing something really obvious?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

robmandu's avatar

Not a brain expert, but since it’s known that a brain damaged person can train his brain “re-learn” lost abilities—like when a stroke victim recovers the ability to speak or control limbs—then I don’t think it’s necessarily due to structural differences of those regions.

Hobbes's avatar

Though someone suffering blindness can’t “relearn” sight, even if the cause is brain damage not eye impairment.

Harp's avatar

I hate to just post a link, but this article has a great deal to say on the subject, and I just don’t have the spunk to summarize it.

nocountry2's avatar

Isnt it similar to sending information to the muscles and they move? Special cell groups perform special functions as they are genetically instructed. Producing the experience as we interpret it borders on the mystery of consciousness, which as I understand it is the golden ticket yet to be explained by neuroscience (although the quest is precisely why it’s so fascinating to me…).

wundayatta's avatar

Give a man a hammer, and all the world looks like a nail.

Hypothesis:
Once a region of the brain is trained to interpret input from the eye as visual information, when stimulated directly (bypassing the eye) it will still attempt to interpret that stimulation as visual information.

It’s not that the areas of the brain are structurally different, but that the brain cells in those areas are trained differently. Once trained in their habits, brain cells, like humans, have great difficulty changing. It can be done, however, with a lot of work.

girlofscience's avatar

@daloon: Your hypothesis does not account for the fact that the visual areas of the brain are largely the same across individuals. Sure, the brain can be trained to interpret certain information, but your hypothesis doesn’t answer any information about why everyone would be wired with relatively the same localization of function.

I probably know more about this than all of you (no offense! I research vision science!), but I had the longest day ever and cannot think/type anymore! So I’m just going to talk to nikipedia about this directly instead.

girlofscience's avatar

@Harp: Great article! I recently had a long phone conversation with the author about some of the topics.

girlofscience's avatar

[insert comment #3 sounding like a bragging, arrogant smartass]

:\ sorry.

wundayatta's avatar

Hmmm, GoS. Maybe infrastructural reasons? Something about information transfer, and there being a more likely place for location of a service (vision, hearing, etc), but it’s not always there, due to localized events.

Like how gas stations are usually found on corners. But suppose in one town, all the corners were taken up, so the gas stations were only found in the middle of the block. The station can be anywhere, but there is a place that is preferred due to inherent infrastructural advantages.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther