Scientists are arriving at many new concepts about brain waves to explain how thoughts, memories, and consciousness works. Indeed, a sizable wave of articles about the subject is circulating online.
Just as light is both a particle and wave, brain activity involves specific firing neurons and brain waves. Put another way, the long-head belief that everything is physical or material is meeting dualism, the idea there’s something else at work.
Finally, scientists are finding the brain, traditionally thought of as a biological computer, doesn’t work merely by processing information across relays of neural connections. Now, they know “the brain parses information through the interactions of waves of neural activity.” However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to let go of the idea that the brain is “computational machinery” just yet.
An Ocean of Waves in the Brain
Indeed, an article by Medical Xpress suggests there’s “an ocean in your brain.” How we respond to the world around us has to do with how the waves interact. While our brains generate some brain waves, other waves arrive as sensory inputs from the outside world.
“The best way to explain how the neurons were behaving, they discovered, was through interaction of microscopic waves of activity rather than interaction of individual neurons. Rather than a flash of light activating specialized sensory cells, the researchers showed how it creates distributed patterns: waves of activity across many neighboring cells, with alternating peaks and troughs of activation—like ocean waves,” writes the Salk Institute.
Brain Wave Interaction and Interference
As the waves crash together, they can either amplify activity or get canceled out.
“When these waves are being simultaneously generated in different places in the brain, they inevitably crash into one another. If two peaks of activity meet, they generate an even higher activity, while if a trough of low activity meets a peak, it might cancel it out. This process is called wave interference.”
While the article suggests that waves of stimulus from the outside world affect our brain waves, it doesn’t touch on the reverse. For example, what happens when brain waves extend beyond the brain? Certainly, the waves aren’t contained neatly in a cloud?
Consciousness as Electromagnetism
Last year, a molecular geneticist suggested a similar but controversial idea of human consciousness as an electromagnetic “cloud” or field.
The University of Surrey’s Johnjoe McFadden ‘posits that consciousness is in fact the brain’s energy field,’ the university said in a statement.
As long as the human brain remains alive, it generates an “electrical glow in which the real nitty-gritty human stuff is happening,” writes Popular Mechanics.
But after death, what happens to the so-called “cloud?”
The Brain Waves of a Dying Person
Recently, scientists recorded the brain waves of a dying person for the first time in detail. Sadly, an 87-year-old man unexpectedly died from a heart attack while hooked up to an electroencephalograph (EEG) machine. When examined, scientists found a case of paradoxical lucidity and heightened consciousness, although he had previously suffered brain injuries.
“Immediately following cardiac arrest, they noticed changes in the brain waves involved in higher-order cognitive functions, including information processing, concentrating, memory retrieval, conscious perception, and the different stages of dreaming, possibly indicating the brain was actively engaging in memory recall,” writes Popular Mechanics.
Paradoxical Lucidity Despite Brain Damage
Even though the man’s brain was shutting down, it seemed his life really was flashing before his eyes.
“What is most intriguing is that this seems to be occurring when the brain is shutting down at the end of life. This study supports these descriptions and certainly raises the possibility that a marker of lucidity at the end of life may have been discovered,” said Dr. Sam Parnia.
According to the researcher, as parts of the man’s brain shut down, it led to an emergence of functions ordinarily suppressed by usual day-to-day brain activity. But were the man’s memories temporarily restored despite prior brain injuries? The researchers aren’t certain, but if so, this raises the question of how that would be possible. How can memories be suddenly retrieved from a damaged or diseased brain?
Other researchers have been trying to answer why people can have these moments of paradoxical lucidity despite brain damage or disease such as Alzheimer’s.
In the neural transduction theory, the brain functions as a bidirectional transducer, not a self-contained information processor, storage device, or computer. Possibly, consciousness and memories are not confined in the brain, either by neurons or brain wave cloud, but in another dimension entirely. If this is the case, it offers an explanation for why memories could be suddenly retrieved despite brain damage – because they exist beyond our bodies in a state of connected consciousness. The non-local electromagnetic “cloud” if you like?