Ideas just as real as the neurons they inhabit

Biological neuron schema

Image via Wikipedia

James Gleick, from an excerpt of his book The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood:

“Ideas have ‘spreading power,’ he noted—’infectivity, as it were’—and some more than others. An example of an infectious idea might be a religious ideology that gains sway over a large group of people. The American neurophysiologist Roger Sperry had put forward a similar notion several years earlier, arguing that ideas are ‘just as real’ as the neurons they inhabit. Ideas have power, he said:

Ideas cause ideas and help evolve new ideas. They interact with each other and with other mental forces in the same brain, in neighboring brains, and thanks to global communication, in far distant, foreign brains. And they also interact with the external surroundings to produce in toto a burstwise advance in evolution that is far beyond anything to hit the evolutionary scene yet.

Ideas just as real as the neurons they inhabit? Very interesting.

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