It’s little wonder that we have so many unanswered questions about the human mind.
Our minds are the most powerful computers in the world. They encase not only a whole personality but also run every part of the body. All this allows us to move around and feel emotions. Yet, as far as scientists have come with discovering space and advancing technology, we still have numerous unanswered questions about the human mind and how it works.
Here are just some of the questions we still have about our minds:
1: Why Do We Dream?
You wake up in the working after a night of bizarre and puzzling dreams, leaving you with a lot of unanswered questions. Why exactly do we dream about such random events?
From the moment of our conception, humans spend a lot of their time sleeping. Indeed, even as adults, we spend at least a third of our day soundly asleep. Yet, many of us never remember our dreams at all. Others remember only snippets that we steadily lose as the day goes on.
According to some scientists, our brains need time every night to process through information and events we’ve encountered while awake. It helps our brains to choose what needs to be coded into our long-term memory. The scientific community agrees that dreaming is a side-effect of this process. However, there are still too many unanswered questions.
2: The Unanswered Questions Surrounding Our Personality
This is perhaps the greatest unanswered question in philosophy. Are we born with a personality or do we develop one as we grow? The idea of tabula rasa is a phrase that suggests that we are born as a ‘blank slate’ with no predestined personality. This means that our personality traits have a lot to do with the experiences we have as children.
Many people believe, though, that our personalities are actually encoded into our genome. So, no matter what our childhood experiences are, there is still a hardwired personality. Moreover, according to some research, it is possible to alter these genes associated with trauma with a positive experience.
3: How Do We Access Our Memories?
We’ve all been there, you’re desperately trying to remember a time or event in your life, however, the details are fuzzy. With the brain being such a powerful machine, why can’t we simple search and find a certain memory easily?
Then, when you do recall a memory easily, you find that your memory of an event can be vastly different to other people who were there. According to neuroscience, our brains ‘file’ away similar events and thoughts in the same area. This, over time, can lead to different events becoming fuzzy and merging with each other to cause false memories.
This is why, particularly in cases of crime, police will want to take witness statements as close to the event as possible. They do it before the witness has time to forget details or, worse, misremember them. Witness statements are often not as trusted in a criminal case, say over forensic, evidence due to the way our minds can forget or create false memories.
4: Unanswered Questions about Fate and Free Will
A question often explored in movies and other fiction is in regards to our lives. Does our brain and mind act of its own free will or is there a pre-determined destiny encoded into our minds, that our brain works to keep us on the correct path?
One study found that our initial movements – such as batting a fly – have no connection with free will. We basically do these without thought. The crucial point, though, was that our brains had the ability to stop these movements if we wanted. However, it takes our brain a full second before it would realise that we were acting instinctively.
There is also the idea that free will is a notion created by our minds to protect us from the horror that we are all following a predetermined path chosen by the cosmos. Are we all in the Matrix? Or more importantly, if we were in something like the Matrix, with no real free will, would we really want to know?
5: How Do We Regulate Our Emotions?
At times, it can feel that humans are just a big, old bag of emotions that can, at times, feel like it’s too much to handle. So, the great unanswered question is, how does our brain handle these emotions?
Are our brains like Inside Out, the Pixar film that humanised our emotions as six little characters that controlled our brains and could access our memories? Well, for one, the idea of us having six recognised emotions isn’t new. Paul Ekman was the scientist who theorised this concept and saw our base emotions to be – joy, fear, sadness, anger, surprise and disgust.
The problem is, what happens when one of these emotions – such as sadness – take over. Is this what happens when our mental health goes into decline, experiencing illnesses such as depression or anxiety? We know that there are certain drugs that help correct the imbalance of these emotions. However, scientists are still unsure of what causes these imbalances in the first place.