The more science knows about life’s intricacies, about how DNA actually becomes protein and about how proteins actually become us, the less life resembles a finely honed Swiss clock. As Karl Popper once said, life is not a clock, it is a cloud.Like a cloud, life is “highly irregular, disorderly, and more or less unpredictable.” Clouds, carried and crafted by an infinity of currents, have inscrutable wills; they seethe and tumble in the air, and are a little different with every moment in time. As has happened so many times before in the history of science, the idée fixe of deterministic order proved to be a mirage.
Just as our antibodies are constantly altered in response to the pathogens we actually encounter (we do not have the B-cells of our parents, or of our identical twin), the brain is constantly adapting to the particular conditions of our own life.Furthermore, their auditory cortex now resembled the typical ferret visual cortex, complete with spatial maps and neurons tuned to detect slants of light.Michael Merzenich, one of the founders of the plasticity field, called this experiment “The most compelling demonstration you could have that experience shapes the brain.” An important discovery closely related to plasticity has been the discovery of neurogenesis.I’ve spilled a lot of ink elsewhere on this phenomenon, but it’s important to remember that your brain is constantly generating new neurons.The brain, far from being fixed, is actually in a constant state of cellular upheaval.
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