Your brain’s ability to collect, connect, and create mosaics from these milliseconds-long impressions is the basis of every memory. By extension, it is the basis of you. This isn’t just metaphysical poetics. Every sensory experience triggers changes in the molecules of your neurons, reshaping the way they connect to one another. That means your brain is literally made of memories, and memories constantly remake your brain.
It would be a mistake to believe that those molecules, or even the synapses they control, are memories. “When you dig into molecules, and the states of ion channels, enzymes, transcription programs, cells, synapses, and whole networks of neurons, you come to realize that there is no one place in the brain where memories are stored,” says Kukushkin. This is because of a property called plasticity, the feature of neurons that memorize. The memory is the system itself.
And there’s evidence of memory-making throughout the tree of life, even in creatures with no nervous system—scientists have trained bacteria to anticipate a flash of a light.
Yes, this is very hard for neuroscientists to understand too. Which means it’s going to be a long time before they understand the nuts and bolts of memory formation. (1)
Everything we think is based on memory. Our logic is based on memory. Science is based on memory. Memory of rules, of observations, of prior knowledge, of our very selves.
And yet, we still do not know how memory works. This is the dirty little secret of modern science which Harmonia Philosophica has pointed out over and over again. Behind every fake “triumph” of mind science there lies the simply irritating ignorance on the most fundamental process of our brain.
Masking that ignorance with names or poetic descriptions like the one above does not make things any better.
It is not that science will someday reach its dead ends.
It has reached them already.
It will just not admit it, no matter what.
Somewhere in the very beginning we have taken the wrong turn. And we travel in the wrong path ever since. There, I see a “dark” guy speaking there. Speaking about “war” and “thunder”. And another guy writing poems, saying something about “One” and existence. We must go back there.
At the shores of Ionia.
We used to know.
We just have to recall that memory.
But it is not a memory in our brain.
It is us.