Your brain is like the internet

You might think of your brain as a computer, that gets inputs, does some thinking about it in a linear way and then takes specific actions or outputs. Unfortunately, this is not remotely how your brain works. Your brain works more like the internet: As a network where many systems interact with each other and process information in parallel.

The most useful metaphor is how the linking function compares with how your thoughts are linked: thinking of your home reminds you of your cat, making you think about dogs, which reminds you to think of your ex, which makes you feel heartbroken or lonely.

In just a few steps, you went from thinking about your house to thinking about a previous relationship and feeling bad. Websites act in the same way. You start by looking for a new recipe for the weekend, then click on a link to organic farming and from there to a new market that is opening soon near you. There you read an article about chickens and egg batteries. Then to a video of how steel is made. You started with the desire to find a recipe to make for the coming weekend and ended with the process to make steel.

The different systems of your brain have different functions: Your emotions are used to give your shortcuts to complex decisions and regulate what types of thought you can have. Your primitive brain makes sure that you are breathing, keeps your heart beating and creates the feeling of hunger. I think the primitive part of the internet is probably the protocols and the levels of congestions between server hubs.

Your prefrontal cortex (the most recent addition to the brain) is responsible for logic, mathematics and executive decision making. You use this to rationalize decisions of your emotional or primitive brain. The analogous piece of the internet would be your computer or browsers, where you decide what to search for and react on other people’s actions.

Just as with the internet, most of what is happening is not visible and happens in your subconscious. There are a lot of changes that happens outside of our notice. Websites are created, grow, mature and die. Similarly, in your brain new neurons are grown, used more or less often and eventually replaced. In short intervals, they both look as if they do not change, but as with all living systems, they are constantly adjusting and changing. In long intervals such as years or decades, they often change dramatically.

This is why I think your brain is more comparable to the internet than it is to a computer.

To happiness, and beyond!


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