Where is your brain?

October 23, 2011

Brain from PonPonPon

Where is your brain? You know, that voice in your head that you “hear” when you are thinking about something. Where is it located? Or, when you focus on being aware of your personal self. Where are “you” centered, in relation to your body or your head?

For me, that inner voice is located somewhere inside my head, to the extent that it has a location at all. Trying to find it feels a bit slippery, like when you try to scratch your own back, but can’t quite tell where the itchy part is.

What about when you are reading something, like these words right here? After a little bit of experimentation, I found that for me, it seems to depend on the amount of content I am reading. For instance, if I’m scanning around on a web page, just reading the links or navigation menus, the “sound” of the words seems to come from their location on the page. However, I noticed that when reading long paragraphs of text, the “sound” of the words tends to shift, so it feels more like they’re coming from inside my head. Why is that?

And then we get to images. Here’s an interesting experiment: close your eyes and picture a tree in your mind. No particular tree, just the first image that comes to mind when you think “tree”. Try to notice as many details about it as you can.

Done? Ok, now while keeping your tree in mind, consider these questions: Is it photo-realistic or cartoony? How similar is it to what you would draw on paper if I asked you to draw a tree? Where does the tree seem to be: is it in your head, in about the same place as your other thoughts?

Now for part 2: Close your eyes and imagine that you are looking at a tree that is about 20 feet in front of you. Where’s the tree now? In your head, or in front of you?

Where is your brain?


The brain image is from the music video Pon Pon Pon. WARNING: highly infectious material!