Health and Medicine Question #385

darioush, a 34 year old male from the Internet asks on June 1, 1998,

What is thought? Is it matter or energy? And how does the brain create a thought?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on June 1, 1998

Thought is formed of a complex interaction between many nerve cells within the brain. Varying amounts of electrical potential, or frequencies of firing of electrical signals, or magnetic fields. Very complex thoughts might involve millions of nerve cells or parts of cells and millions of these sorts of electrical variations. In this way, matter in the form of cells is used to create thought, something that is not matter. Maybe the process is similar to language. The ink on the page of a book is matter that has no particular special quality. It is only the characters of the text formed by the ink marks and the way they are arranged into words and sentences that gives meaning. This is perhaps how it works in the brain. The matter itself is meaningless. Each individual nerve and nerve connection does not mean anything. It is the way that it is all arranged and how it works together that gives meaning - or thought.


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