top of page

Today's Post: 

Mind Over Matter What does this phrase mean? The person who thinks thing through will beat the one who tries to bull his way through? Quick wit beats dumb brawn? Always thought it meant that sort of thing. Now it means something different to me. The encroaching vision loss resulting from dry macular degeneration has opened my eyes to wonders of the human brain. Sure, a high school science teacher demonstrated how our brain makes an orange look orange under all light conditions. You’ve probably seen the photographs taken of one in broad daylight and then under incandescent lights. While the daylight ones shows it to be the orange we know, under artificial light it looks a pasty yellowish color. Our subconscious mind knows it should look orange so that’s the image it sends up to the conscious mind. Subconscious…conscious mind? Medical researchers tend to say things like this part of the brain handles vision, that part of the brain handles speech, That part does this, this part does that. I prefer to think of the brain as two very different computing systems; a conscious mind and a subconscious one. An ocean liner or an aircraft carrier provides the best analogy. The conscious mind is like the captain on the bridge while the subconscious mind is controlling everything else on the ship. It feeds the information the captain needs to him and he provides the guidance and direction it needs. Researchers say the conscious mind can process up to 40 events per second. Pretty impressive, don’t you think? But wait a minute, they say the subconscious one processes 40 million events per second! It uses thousands, maybe millions, of minute computers, each communicating over nerves to every muscle and sensor in the body. Higher level processors integrate the data coming in, decide what and how information should be presented to the captain, and then translating the instructions coming down into the myriad of signals needed to carry them out. Just like on a large ship, almost everything happens out of view of the captain. For example, if the subconscious mind detects something on a course to strike an eye, it instructs the appropriate muscles to close the eyelid without waiting to run it by the captain. When we talk of reading body language, that is actually the subconscious mind at work collecting information on its own and putting together a synopsis of what it learns for us in the form of a feeling. It may tell us we can trust this person or perhaps warn us to be skeptical, that we should like this person or hate him or her, etc. When we follow our heart, we really mean we accept the subconscious mind’s recommendation. But all this merely scratches the surface of how the human brain functions. It’s intriguing. Fascinating to discover new features, new capabilities previously taken for granted. That’s where my declining vision comes in. Each eye has a blind spot that unfortunately is gradually expanding. If I close one eye, I can see the blind spot in the other. But with both eyes open, I see a full field of vision free of blind spots. The subconscious mind is taking signals from both eyes to fill in the gaps and present a complete image. When you look at the chart, notice that the blind spot is off center on the left eye. That allows the brain to find missing data. They are now beginning to overlap and as a result, my ability to read is declining. In fact, small print is unreadable. If I try to focus directly on an object, it becomes blurred. But if I look slightly away from it or scan across it, a clear image is presented. The brain is using my good peripheral vision to construct the image. How it handles color is mor complex than the orange experiment indicates. The yellow sensors seem to degenerate first. Now if I’m reading a page with a word highlighted in yellow, I don’t see it. Buttons on a computer screen that are turned yellow to attract attention do not attract mine. So when I look at a yellow counter or wall, why don’t I see a white spot in the middle? The whole thing looks flawlessly yellow. My subconscious mind decides that’s a yellow counter so it makes the whole image yellow. In summary, our brain is interpreting the data fed by our sensors and deciding what should be shared with the conscious mind. Guess the philosophers who suggest the world may simply be a figment of our imagination may have a point. at least until we walk into a wall. Mind over matter!

bottom of page