Monday, October 10, 2011

Strange Loops in the Brain or Strange Loops are the Brain

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vitroids/3746539068/in/photostream/
Two of my favorite books are I am a Strange Loop, and Godel, Escher, Bach - An Eternal Golden Braid both by Douglas Hofstadtler. These talk about the nature of thought and personality. The first is poetic and the second is more an essay.

Into this mix, are two great stories on Radio Lab on these themes. It talks about loops in life. Two relate to the themes in Hofstadtler's books.

One story is about a woman who has short-term memory loss, and she just repeats the same conversations over-and-over like a computer stuck in a loop. It suggests the brain has aspects of a mechanism. One can speculate about causality and free-will in this circumstance. How much control did the woman have over her actions?







The second story is about Godel himself. I thought Godel was a regular mathematician, but it turns out he was frequently mentally ill. The fact that mentally ill people make huge mathematical break-throughs should tell us something. More specifically, mentally-ill people may be more driven to proven revolutionary conclusions than more socialized mathematicians.

Anyway, listen to the episode.