The corridors of the brain

Discover magazine states what might seem rather obvious: Brain Connections Contribute to Our Unique Personalities.

Each human brain has a unique connectome—the network of neural pathways that tie all of its parts together. Like a fingerprint, every person’s connectome is unique. To find out where these individual connectomes differed the most, researchers used an MRI scanning technique to take cross-sectional pictures of 23 people’s brains at rest.

The real variety arose in the parts of the brain associated with personality, like the frontoparietal lobe. This multipurpose area in the brain curates sensory data into complex thoughts, feelings or actions and allows us to interpret the things we sense (i.e., we recognize a red, round object as an apple). Because there are many ways to get from sensation to reaction, and many different ways to react to what we sense, each individual’s brain blazes its own paths.

I was actually just musing on something related to this. We understand that brains are made up of neurons which are essentially the wires of the brain. These neurons can be connected to many other neurons, so you could have a neuron with 100 neurons sending it signals while it is also sending signals to 100 different neurons. Obviously you can get some pretty complex circuitry going on there.

But neurons also group together in clumps, so you can have a network of neurons that may all be deeply interconnect to each other but not so much to “outside” networks. I’m wondering of that correlates to certain personality types. Are people with more complex interconnections of neurons/networks more prone to deeper, nuanced thinking? And are people with rich clumps of neurons that don’t speak much to other clumps more prone to absolutist, clear cut thinking? I think we’ve all had discussions with people – sometimes very intelligent people – who seem just incapable of getting a point we are making. Like they just hit a brick wall. I’m wondering of those people just lack the neural networks to understand what is being said.

I should say, I’m not sure one type of thinking is necessarily better. I tend have this deeper, nuanced way of thinking but as a result I tend to chase ideas down ever narrower corridors of thought, never arriving solid conclusions.

Ah, who am I kidding? My way of thinking is the best!

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