There are 100 billion neurons in the adult human brain, and each neuron makes something like 1,000 to 10,000 contacts with other neurons in the brain. Based on this, people have calculated that the number of permutations and combinations of brain activity exceeds the number of elementary particles in the universe.— Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
The most relaxing Vilayanur S. Ramachandran quotes that are glad to read
There is no real independent self, aloof from other human beings, inspecting the world, inspecting other people. You are, in fact, connected not just via Facebook and Internet, you're actually quite literally connected by your neurons.
Here is this three-pound mass of jelly you can hold in the palm of your hand, and it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space. It can contemplate the meaning of infinity and it can contemplate itself contemplating on the meaning of infinity.
Curiosity illuminates the correct path to anything in life.
If you're not curious, that's when your brain is starting to die.
Indeed, the line between perceiving and hallucinating is not as crisp as we like to think. In a sense, when we look at the world, we are hallucinating all the time. One could almost regard perception as the act of choosing the one hallucination that best fits the incoming data.
What the artist tries to do (either consciously or unconsciously) is to not only capture the essence of something but also to amplify it in order to more powerfully activate the same neural mechanisms that would be activated by the original object.
What do we mean by "knowledge" or "understanding"? And how do billions of neurons achieve them? These are complete mysteries. Admittedly, cognitive neuroscientists are still very vague about the exact meaning of words like "understand," "think," and indeed the word "meaning" itself.
A culture without mythology is not really a civilisation.
We are not angels, we are merely sophisticated apes.
Yet we feel like angels trapped inside the bodies of beasts, craving transcendence and all the time trying to spread our wings and fly off, and it's really a very odd predicament to be in, if you think about it.
People often ask how I got interested in the brain;
my rhetorical answer is: 'How can anyone NOT be interested in it?' Everything you call 'human nature' and consciousness arises from it.
Self-awareness is a trait that not only makes us human but also paradoxically makes us want to be more than merely human. As I said in my BBC Reith Lectures, “Science tells us we are merely beasts, but we don’t feel like that. We feel like angels trapped inside the bodies of beasts, forever craving transcendence
Great art allows you to transcend your mortal frame and to reach for the stars.
I think great science does the same thing.
The adage that fact is stranger than fiction seems to be especially true for the workings of the brain.
A genius is somebody who seemingly just reaches out of nowhere.
Our ability to perceive the world around us seems so effortless that we tend to take it for granted.
Here is a neuron that fires when I reach and grab something, but it also fires when I watch Joe reaching and grabbing something. ... It's as though this neuron is adopting the other person's point of view.
Remember that politics, colonialism, imperialism and war also originate in the human brain.
Think about what artists, novelists and poets have in common: the ability to engage in metaphorical thinking, linking seemingly unrelated ideas, such as, 'It is the east, and Juliet is the Sun.'
The visual system of the brain has the organization, computational profile, and architecture it has in order to facilitate the organism's thriving at the four Fs: feeding fleeing, fighting, and reproduction.
People think of art and science as being fundamentally opposed to each other, because art is about celebrating individual human creativity, and science is about discovering general principles, not about individual people. But in fact, the two have a lot in common, and the creative spirit is similar in both.
In the fetus, or a really young child, all the different brain areas are connected to each other, diffusely. And as the brain develops, the excess connections are turned off, so you get very specialized areas. So most people have really specialized talents. What happens in creative people is this pooling doesn't take place.
Lofty questions about the mind are fascinating to ask, philosophers have been asking them for three millennia both in India where I am from and here in the West - but it is only in the brain that we can eventually hope to find the answers.
The boundary between neurology and psychiatry is becoming increasingly blurred, and its only a matter of time before psychiatry becomes just another branch of neurology.
Any ape can reach for a banana, but only humans can reach for the stars.
The brain abhors discrepancies.
If we knew about the real facts and statistics of mortality, we’d be terrified.
With the arrival of humans, it has been said, the universe has suddenly become conscious of itself. This, truly, it the greatest mystery of all.
Yet as human beings we have to accept-with humility-that the question of ultimate origins will always remain with us, no matter how deeply we understand the brain and the cosmos that it creates.
If you're a thinking person, the liver is interesting, but nothing is more intriguing than the brain.
Your conscious life is an elaborate after-the-fact rationalization of things you really do for other reasons.
One of the first things we teach medical students is to listen to the patient by taking a careful medical history. Ninety percent of the time, you can arrive at an uncannily accurate diagnosis by paying close attention, using physical examination and sophisticated lab test to confirm your hunch (and to increase the bill to the insurance company).
Even though its common knowledge these days, it never ceases to amaze me that all the richness of our mental life - all our feelings, our emotions, our thoughts, our ambitions, our love life, our religious sentiments and even what each of us regards us his own intimate private self - is simply the activity of these little specks of jelly in your head, in your brain. There is nothing else.
You cant just take an image and randomly distort it and call it art - although many people in La Jolla where I come from do precisely that.
Even today no computer can understand language as well as a three-year-old or see as well as a mouse.
What the neurology tells us is that the self consists of many components, and the notion of one unitary self may well be an illusion.
The minute you succumb to outside pressure, you cease to be creative.
Without ducking responsibility, what's wrong with medicine today is that it is predicated on providing treatment, not on reducing suffering. Not on solving problems.
Science is like a love affair with nature;
an elusive, tantalising mistress. It has all the turbulence, twists and turns of romantic love, but thats part of the game.