Octopus Science: The Brain at Play

 
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 1:37 pm
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Pod Cast of Sci Friday August 5, 2011

Listening to Science Friday, we elevate our wondrous human powers of observation, and marvel breathless at the Octopus and (not mentioned) the Flounder’s ability to recreate the design and color of a checkerboard on his pancake-thin body to mimic the surface topography of the ocean floor.

Yet, in the practice of conventional education, a daily regimen that should reflect the highest degree of our appreciation, respect, and application of scientific enlightenment—indeed, our unconditional love--for the young of our very own species, we ignore their special powers and bind their minds in the trappings of an absurdly institutionalized and heavy-handed learning culture.

Where there should be insight, there are merely the rules and regulations of mechanized control, authority, and oversight.

We are shown that The Cephalopods, ‘Masters of Optical Illusion,’ have evolved a higher form of learning—a capacity for specialized movement and ‘seeing’ that laid the foundation for the advanced movement of human Imagination and Intellection (the capacity to see and imagine and to create illusion). “Everybody wants these guys!” exclaims the scientist.

(This comment suggesting the military’s desire to exploit the octopus’ s secret powers of neurological quick- change artistry and subterfuge. ) Granted, the Military got the human resource problem solved in the U.S. All they need is an education system that keeps a fresh source of high school drop-outs its way.

Who in education is eyeing the sheer power of kids’ minds like the Military guys? This processing power of visual thinking and imagination, so pronounced in the young mind, is the creative wellspring of human intellect. The roots of such power? The octopus’s ability to turn his body almost instantaneously into any shape or color is an act of neuroscience that explains Faraday’s ability to glimpse the dynamics of electromagnetism in the sunlit, rainbow mist of a waterfall.

What the octopus does with his body, children and inspired scientists do with their minds. Educators ought to have at least as much sense and motivation as the military to study this quality of thinking and attempt to make the connection between the Octopus’s gifts and the gifts of children. But they are not.

We already know that human vision is a form of neurological acrobatic messaging that reproduces sensory input of the world—a momentary picture “cloud” of the world. In the Octopus, the ability to reproduce the surrounding world via skin and visual, 3-dimensional neuro-sleights of hand is an elegant prefiguring of human prowess to visualize, imagine, and visually synthesize ideas.---

This capacity of visual form, light, color, and movement for navigating the planet, which evolved in plants as well as animals, is explored in I OF THE VORTEX (Rodolfo Llinas). The capacity of octopi (creatures like us who have shed external armor and are left exposed), use creativity to survive. In the human brain, the deep and systematic projection of, and response to, art and play-based symbolic media-- ‘life forms’ equipped with specialized audio-vocal expression and physical movement-- comprise a strategy of sensory, sight, emotion, coloration, and mindful strategies of survival which are two sides of the same coin.
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