Thursday, July 17, 2008

What The Brain Can't Perceive

In “This Is Your Brain On Music” by Daniel Levitt, I learned something fascinating – that color and pitch are constructs of the brain.  Color and pitch do not exist independent of human cognition.  There is no true red, no white, no A flat, no G sharp minor seven.  Color and sound exist in the world beyond human brains as light waves and sound waves.  Our brains have specialized mechanisms to process these waves and use their physical properties to categorize them as particular colors and pitches.  Further, there are colors and sounds that our brains are simply unable to process.  For example, we cannot distinguish the pitch of a sound wave below 20 or so Herz (HZ) – the unit of measurement for sound waves.  This is explains why we can barely discern the pitch of the last key on a piano, and why pianos don’t go beyond 88 keys – because the further we would go in either direction, the more the pitches would exceed our brain’s capacity to process the sound waves.


The astounding implication behind this is that pockets of reality exist which we cannot perceive.  As incredible as the human brain is, it does have limitations, and there is an entire reality that exists beyond our brain’s comprehension.  So how much more is there to outer space that our brains cannot perceive?  How much more to time?  How much more to everything?  I think institutionalized religion can often take liberties in defining these things – giving them names, symbols, and establishing entire cultures and heritages around them, which in turn become intense objects of devotion and protection to the legions of followers around the world.  But the question I have been asking for years now and have not received a single honest response to (presumably based on the feared implications) is: does God exist independent of religion?  If God created the world, what was he doing before creation, and why is the universe so large if humans are the only beings created in His image?  Anyways I don’t want to wander to far down this path because it is it’s own topic of exploration that I don’t want to mix too much with this brain perception stuff.

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