The Brain and Our Senses

With the coming of computers, we have seen an explosion of knowledge about the brain and how it does all of the things it does. The greater emphasis has been on how our senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and feeling are handled by the brain. May Pines has said it best:

We can recognize a friend instantly-full face, in profile, or even by the back of his head. We can distinguish hundreds of colors and possibly as many as 10,000 smells. We can feel a feather as it brushes our skin, hear the faint rustle of a leaf It all seems so effortless: we open our eyes or ears and let the world stream in. Yet anything we see, hear, feel, smell, or taste requires billions of nerve cells to flash urgent messages along linked pathways and feedback loops in our brains, performing intricate calculations that scientists have only begun to decipher.1

What we are finding as we start to decipher the brain is that there are incredible differences between various sections of the brain and some incredibly designed sections that fit our life styles. Even the differences tell us a great deal about the designed features of the brain. When you watch a movie at the theater, for example, there are 24 separate pictures being put onto the screen every second. If the subject on the film is moving, your brain interprets the object as a moving object. If the object is sitting still, you still see it. It does not have to be moving for you to be able to see it and identify it.

A frog, on the other hand, cannot see an object unless it is moving. Place a fly that is immobile in front of a starving frog and it will ignore it. Unless the fly is moving, the frog cannot tell that it is there. If the fly starts to move, then the frog will eat it. Basically, the retina of the frog detects movement while our retina does not--we use our brain to detect motion. Dennis Baylor, of Stanford Medical School, has said it best: "The dumber the animal, the smarter its retina."2 The intricate design features used to allow all living things to survive are still being studied. Our ears can hear and distinguish some 20,000± different frequencies. Comparing the 24 images per second of the eye with the 20,000 of the ear tells us a great deal about how these sections work, but speak even more eloquently about their design. How limited would be our world of sound if only 24 sounds a second could be processed and understood.

"I am fearfully and wonderfully made," the psalmist said (Psalm 139:14) and the brain is one of the great demonstrations of that statement.

1Seeing, Hearing, and Smelling the World, 1995, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, page 5.
20p. cit., page 24.

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