Friday, September 5, 2008

Limits of Brain & Mind

While I was pedaling across a beautiful college campus the other day, the above inscription caught my eye. It adorns a magnificently restored building. The statement gave me pause. I am a anatomist. The human brain weighs roughly 1,350 g and fits snug into a half-gallon pale. I looked down into my bicycle helmet. The brain does not take much room. Yet, this clump of nondescript soft tissue allows us to produce statements that bold.

The interactions between the nerve cells in the brain define who we are. Networks of nerve cells control our behavior and permit us to muse about the world around us, ponder the limits of the sky and make dreams come true. We are even able to comprehend happenings in places too distant for us to travel. We can imagine the universe. Our mind is indeed wider than the sky.

Alas, the brain is vulnerable, the mind is fragile. Injury to the brain alters the mind. Both are inseparably complementary. Rhymes formed up in my mind. I put them down in a poem with magic ink. Take six minutes and watch the words unfold in the viewer below.

  • "The brain is wider than the sky..." is the opening to a poem by Emily Dickinson who lived in the 19th century. She was no neuro-anatomist. Her poem is more beautiful than mine.

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