To fully grasp how we differ in our perception from others we must start at the very beginning.
It is a well-known fact that brain development in youth is beyond what we experience through the rest of our lives. Within the first three years our brain will actually grow to 80% of what will be its full size, and we will have 90% before the age of five. Along with this growth also come’s structure. This structure will be part of the creation of a belief system which will design our individual reality.
Now obviously we can’t remember being born, yet from the moment we awaken into this strange world, our senses open up to an alien existence that makes absolutely no sense at all. Our mother connects to us instantly (most of the time) due to the pheromones we produce, and we ourselves connect to our mother for survival.
From here our brain has to structure, adapt, learn and start forming. On the outside looking in we are growing physically and appear to start understanding how things work. We get familiar with faces and between six to ten months from when we were born, most of us learn to crawl. What is even more staggering is the fact that by twelve months most of us learn to take our first steps.
Now I am sure that this is fascinating to many new or up and coming parents out there, yet it is how the brain works during these early years that make me go ga ga.
Let’s get into a little science. Inside of a child’s brain there are things called neurons. Neurons are nerve cells that work like electricity inside of the brain as they transmit information between each other. To give you an example of how this works lets analyse how a baby learns to walk for the first time.
Walking is a simple task for most people. We decide we want to go somewhere, we stand up and then we walk from A to B. Yet for a baby that has never walked before, this so called simple task is not so easy. First the baby has to learn to stand, and then they learn to balance. After this they take their first step and then another, before eventually making multiple steps without falling over. Seemingly this is just a natural occurrence, yet there is a lot happening within our brain at this time. The first step will not only affect the babies early years, it will make a profound difference to the rest of its adult life.
Now let’s get back to those neurons that I was talking about earlier.
When we are born our brain is obviously smaller, yet the amount of neurons inside of our brain is very similar to the amount we will have as an adult. That’s right, size does not matter. Our brains capacity to take on information is just as capable at infancy as it is in adulthood. This in many ways means that we are ready to start soaking up information from the moment we are born.
So how many neurons do we have?
We have approximately 100 billion neurons inside of our brain. That is 100,000,000,000 neurons which is surprisingly the same amount of stars that there are in the Milky Way Galaxy. Is this a coincidence? I’ll leave that up to your own perception J
So how do these neurons work and what do they have to do with perception?
As stated earlier, neurons transmit information throughout the brain. They do this through what is called neurotransmitters. Each individual neuron can connect with up to ten thousand other neurons within the brain. That’s ten thousand different electrical charges coming out of one tiny little neuron that is no larger than 0.1 of a millimetre.
Now the brain is always active, even when we sleep, though when we try something for the first time it is not just lighting up, it is creating new neurotransmitters. And this is where our little rabbit hole begins.
Every time a baby tries to stand and yet fails, it learns a little more about what it did wrong. Although the baby will not over analyse it’s failures and problems as much as an adult would, the baby still understands intuitively that they leant too far forward, or that the left foot was too far away from the right and so on. Each attempt will reinforce a new lesson and a new rule. Then, each of these lessons will become new neurotransmitters. That’s right. Each lesson you learn becomes a new creation within the brain.
After these neurotransmitters are connected they may be reinforced with a second failure or success. This means that they will get stronger. Each time you learn the same lesson, the connection between neurons strengthens, and once it is created, in many cases it can remain for the rest of your life.
Try to think of it like building roads within your mind. If it’s a new road that doesn’t get used much then the council will leave it as a windy dirt track. But if this road is used a lot, or the council decides that it is a very important road for transport, then this simple dirt road will be converted to a four lane highway. And as you can imagine, a lesson such as walking becomes one of the most important highways within your brain.
It is important to remember that without neurotransmitters you couldn’t lift your arm, chew your food, make decisions, feel pain and even focus. It is because of the lessons we learn when we are young, that the neurotransmitters become connected strongly, and then simple tasks become second nature for us. Dementia in the elderly is the opposite of this. Dementia is when these neurotransmitters begin to break down and you lose abilities that were once so easy. Access to memories and simple tasks like walking and talking can become complicated or break down completely.
So now that you know how important neurotransmitters are, it’s time to look into how they will affect your entire belief in reality… This is where it is going to get fun. This is also when you will start to wonder about the limitations your perception causes to your current life. Your whole belief system about how your mind works is about to be questioned…