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“This brain can also contain useful information”

‘Why can I say the number literally?’ rivers of Babylon By Boney M, but don’t list all the elements from the periodic table? ‘ asks editor-in-chief Andrei. Even neuroscientists cannot answer this question.

At KIJK Editors, we deal with information every day. We research, record and report on what we think will benefit our readers. And with a bit of luck, all this knowledge is processed and stored in the most special tool we have: our brain. But research into exactly how this substance works under the roof of our skull is somewhat in a stagnant state. Every time “science” thinks it knows how the brain works, the brain thinks differently about it. You can read all about it in Ronald Feldhuizen’s wonderful story.

radial corneal incision

My brain recognizes a lot of itself in that story. If you wake me up in the middle of the night – which I don’t recommend by the way – I can literally say the number rivers of Babylon By Boney M Sing Along. (And for the record: I hate rivers of Babylon Bonnie M.) I’m just collecting the names of all the actors who played James Bond and I can tell you that in the early 1970s a Russian invented a vision correction technique called radial keratomileusis.

“There could have been useful information there as well,” I say sometimes to my brain. In the place where George Lazenby’s name is now stored, there could also be the order of the planets in our solar system, or something by which I understand mathematics, for example, or all the elements from the periodic table.

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I read in Ronald’s article that the brain doesn’t work that way. It is not a computer in which information is stored in fixed places. “It’s like opening your laptop again a week later and then discovering that all the files on your computer have been shredded and mixed,” says Francesco Battaglia of Radboud University in Nijmegen, among other things. However, this great operating system continues to work.

It’s a shame that the comparison with a computer doesn’t hold true, because I was secretly hoping for some kind of biological delete button that I’d use Yes, we cried when we remembered Zion can erase. Anyway, read Ronald’s story. This is good for your brain.

Note: If I give you another tip, listen to our podcast with Diederik Jekel at Kijkmagazine.nl/podcast.

This editorial is also on KIJK 4/2022, To order here.

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