The neuron that doesn't know the difference (please read description)

Kanages Ramesh

Colombo, Sri Lanka

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Artist's Description

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A patient named Smith is undergoing neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. He is fully awake and conscious. His scalp has been perfused with a local anaesthetic and his skull has been opened. The surgeon places an electrode in Smith’s anterior cingulate, a region near the front of the brain where many of the neurons respond to pain. And sure enough, the doctor is able to find a neuron that becomes active whenever Smith’s hand is poked with a needle. But the surgeon is astonished by what he sees next. The same neuron fires just as vigorously when Smith merely watches another patient being poked. It is as if the neuron (or the functional circuit of which it is a part) is empathizing with another person. A stranger’s pain becomes Smith’s pain, almost literally. Indian and Buddhist mystics assert that there is no essential difference between self and other, and that true enlightenment comes from the compassion that dissolves this barrier. I used to think this was well-intentioned mumbo-jumbo, but here is a neuron that doesn’t know the difference between self and other.

-frrom “The Tell-Tale Brain” by Prof. V.S. Ramachandran

Please read The self created darkness and

Manifestation for a brief summary of Hindu & Buddhist philosophy.

Artwork Comments

  • Guendalyn
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  • ✿✿ Bonita ✿✿ ђєℓℓσ
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  • shadowlea
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