George Bergeron Was a Genius

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., in his short story, “Harrison Bergeron“, developed Harrison’s father, George, as a genius.  Harrion’s father however was “handicapped” with a headset he was forced to wear.  This headset was equipped with a wireless receiver.  Every few minutes, the office of the Handicapper General would broadcast an amazingly loud sound to wearers of this class of headset.  This amazingly loud sound would temporarily stun the wearers, forcing them to forget what they were thinking about.  This reduced the thinking level of geniuses to the lowest common denominator of thinking capabilities, beautifully illustrated in contrast by Harrison’s mother, Hazel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_Bergeron

Recently, scientists have discovered that class of cells, “K” (keniocellular) cells, at the end of optic nerve in primates which produce a sleep-like pulsing rhythm to the gateway of the optical cortex,

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-08-scientists-window-brain.html

In previous postings, I have suggested that “pulsing” behavior in neural networks in the brain is one of nature’s “cheap and dirty tricks” to “stir the pot” as it were, or to prevent our neural networks from remaining saturated and otherwise unresponsive to continued adaptation to an animal’s ever-changing environment.  The rhythmic pulsing of the “K” optic layer might to induce a regular series of George Bergeron moments in the optical networks which would prevent easy saturation.

Neural networks probably rely on multiple methods for reducing saturation effects.  I am sure other network methods of de-saturation will be found along the visual pathway over time.

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Parahippocampal Cortext (PHC) Saturation

An interesting study shows how we are less likely to learn something new if our memory systems are “busy”,

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-08-ready-brain-scans.html

In short, when the parahippocampal cortex (PHC) is saturated, it is less likely to allow new long term learning.  What these researchers ought to do next is track down the “cheap and dirty tricks” which de-saturate the PHC.  How does the cortical region become calm once again?  What are the mechanisms which reset the network so that it can be “open for business” once again?

That a homogeneous neural network saturates itself and becomes immune to change or is otherwise dysfunctional is not new.  Nature’s real magic lies in how de-saturation takes place, and, actually, that de-saturation happens at all!

Also related is an interesting theory about humor.  Humor, it seems, is also one of nature’s cheap and dirty tricks for not only de-saturating our neural networks, but also for describing what seems like a rewarding experience we receive when it occurs!

http://www.slate.com/content/slate/blogs/browbeat/2011/05/13/5_leading_theories_for_why_we_laugh_and_the_jokes_that_prove_them_wrong.html