Us lean types are obsessed with value which thereby makes us obsessed with waste. Finding and eliminating waste of any form can become obsessive… perhaps a little too much so. Hence the shivers than ran down my spine when I read this article on how some neurons can devote their lives to triggering memories of celebrities.
In their most recent work this year, the research team reported that
a single human neuron could recognize a personality through pictures,
text or the sound of a name — no matter how that person was presented.
In tests, one brain cell reacted only to Oprah Winfrey; another just to
Luke Skywalker; a third singled out Argentine soccer star Diego
Each neuron appeared to join together pieces of sensory information
into a single mental impression. The researchers believe these cells
are evidence that it only takes a simple circuit of neurons to encode
an idea, perception or memory.
This scared me for two reasons. First, as I move through my 40s, I'm realizing that I need every possible neuron. I'm not sure if it's the result of a bit too much beer in college, the nightly wine, or simply an overly-voracious appetite for information, but I've been having more and more "tip of the tongue" experiences. Having a neuron dedicated to reminding me of Oprah is simply unacceptable.
Second, I simply don't want to be reminded of Oprah anyway. I've written about how Oprah and Dr. Phil have affected my life, and they aren't pleasant memories.
The article is fascinating as it describes how scientists peek into the brain to figure out how our biological works and aggregates information far more efficiently than any computer.
To be sure, few of us likely have a special brain cell devoted to
Jennifer Aniston or Homer Simpson. Our cells are sensitive to more than
brand names. They can attune themselves quickly to new people or
places, often within a day. While monitoring one new patient's brain,
Dr. Quian Quiroga was surprised to encounter a neuron that already had
him in mind.
So I guess there is some good news: the neurons can change and
re-learn, which gives hope to those poor souls who have neurons that
flash when presented with absurd concepts like absorption-based
costing, economic order quantity, and chasing low cost labor to the four corners of the globe.