11 May 2011

Neuronal Recycling and Sleep

Usually when I post about improbabilities I'm talking about SF story ideas that strain even a reader's willing suspension of disbelief. Today is a bit different. I'm leaping off from an actual scientific hypothesis -- neuronal recycling. "Human 3.0" by Mark Changizi in SEED got me thinking.

True, I probably haven't understood the hypothesis fully or correctly, but the idea that speech, writing, drawing are adaptations of existing human hard-wired capacity to understand and function in the world is intriguing -- that culture has taken our abilities and value-added.

So, what existing functions of the brain could we value add, and thereby, change what it means to be human? Could there be a shift in our future as radical as speech?

The trick would be to look at something we do all the time, and overlook, and change it. Sleep comes to mind.

What do we do in our sleep that we could tap into to achieve something very different, something communicative and connective (because that's what speech, writing, etc are -- they support and define our sociability)?

As a believer in the benefits of a good night's sleep, what if the function of sleep that we overlook is healing? What if there's a way for a healthy mind to heal a disturbed one during sleep?

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