Quick now, think

Here is a quick post on an essay I saw on earthsky.org (not so many biological posts there these days) about the speed of thought.  Link:  http://earthsky.org/human-world/what-is-the-speed-of-thought?  Tim Welsh at the University of Toronto explicates some of the difficulties in measuring the speed of thought, including what one is exactly, how to tell the beginning and ending, etc.  He also presents some of the known factors affecting processing speed, e.g., neuronal size and myelination, and he presents the complexities of parallel processing and conscious awareness.  A quick, quality read.

William James understood the timing here as he coined the phrase, ‘the remembered present’ because what we are aware of consciously has taken some portion of time (say in milliseconds) for visual or auditory stimuli to be processed and reach consciousness.  Mr. Welsh reminds us that this also works at the output end, so that when we say we decided to act, i.e., move a muscle, our brain areas for activation actually already lit up some milliseconds before.  In short, we are reporting old news about our actions.

I also appreciated his addressing the issue of how we can or cannot parse the stream of consciousness.  We have come so far on the glyph learning curve with written language that some may not know or remember that the speech signal has no gaps between words and need not have any between sentences; likewise our thoughts have no punctuation marks.  We structure them through intellectual and/or meditative discipline.  Maybe more later and inthemeantimetravelon&on&on&on…neurons

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