Sunday, October 5, 2008

Faster Brains

A while ago I saw an article about a gene discovered to have a relationship to dyslexia. The wrong form of it seems to entail difficulties in processing visual and aural information. Most interesting was that our nearest great ape cousins don't seem to have this gene at all. Got me thinking. Dyslexia is a problem processing sounds and symbols. Apes don't have the gene necessary to do so. Maybe we needed this to be able to do language. What do you need to do language? You need the ability to process incoming data quickly. Lots of animals use sounds. Apes can understand or use simple words and symbols. But to speak/understand/read a language you need to process lots of often complex information quickly. So, to become human we needed to have our mental processing speed increased. Now, what is the speed of thought? It does not make sense to understand consciousness as bound by any speed limits short of those imposed by quantum reality. I.E., if the information could be presented to consciousness at light speed, we'd understand it. So, the limitations on processing must be biological in our cases. This gene may have unlocked faster processor speeds.

Or maybe it was about providing a substrate -- or format -- for a storage medium so the incoming information could be assimilated more quickly and usefully. Language is necessary for our human form of consciousness. Words condense thought and perception into manageable blocks and grammar allows them to relate meaningfully, indeed to create meaning. Perhaps this gene in someway provides the bio-chemical structure for storing and manipulating structured bits of information and the "programs" for storing and using them?