The Connectome and Some Philosophical Stuff!

I have encountered a very interesting topic which is called The Connectome. A extremely detailed map of the individual connections of cells which make up your brain. Something along the lines of one trillion connections per cell!

If we were able to put the data of all the connections into a very powerful computer, would that computer be like the brain the data was taken? It is a very touchy subject it would seem. “No it wouldn’t feel emotion.” appears to be a very common response.

This idea is theoretical by lead neurologist across the country and perhaps the world. It is held in high regard that memories are stored via these connections. It makes sense. When people have brain damage to certain areas of the brain, the connections are lost making them unable to remember who people are or where they live. Alzheimer suffers have malfunctioning connections which do not transmit or hold onto the information.

It may be a sad thought to think that a computer could replace you after you’ve gone and scientists have cut up your brain into thin thin slices and took pictures with an electron microscope, then put the data into a computer which reassembles them into a digital representation of your brain knowing all of the connections and how they interact. Others think its interesting or even cool.

Emotion will be the primary topic of this article as it is one of the main arguing points against it. Sure it is theoretical but that doesn’t mean you can’t put a bit of knowledge and logic.

Where do emotions come from?

The feeling of an emotion is exactly that a feeling. A physical response caused by impulses to glands that release hormones. With this one could argue that it can’t experience the emotion without the hormones.

Imagine this for a moment. You are walking down a hallway when someone jumps out from the side and scares you. In milliseconds, your brain tells what emotion it is having from the ocular stimuli that it received in 13 milliseconds, sent an impulse causing adrenaline to make your heart beat fast. It is very quick almost too fast to tell. It seems instant but it isn’t.

The ‘feeling’ of emotion is caused by the hormonal stimulation. The brain is capable of experiencing the emotion without them. The brain adds to the emotion with secretion of hormones which give you the sensations of fear or happiness.

What do I think the computer could do?

Of course the main question is philosophical. We all would like to think that emotions are far more complex than what they are. Small electrical signals passing through the brain which trigger other effects.

I believe that this theoretical computer would be able to experience emotion and perceive the memories of the person from which the brain model was taken. Notice how I said experience. I say this because if you think about it everyone has experience emotions and therefore can remember what emotion they felt or what it was like in a memory. The computer wouldn’t be able to get a physical response as it is only a simulation of the brains connections.

The computer would have the memories and experience emotions of the person. That is merely my humble opinion. Please do leave your thoughts. Tell me what you think about this.


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