Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

The brain acting as a reduction valve.

The brain acting as a reduction valve.
March 05, 2010, 03:49:48 PM
This is inspired by the current cannabis discussion.

Any of you who have read Aldous Huxley's Doors of Perception will know what I'm talking about here. It is the idea that the brain, rather than being a creative force, is actually a biological machine which reduces the amount of information we are allowed to process in order that we can function properly as an animal. This is based on findings that the main effect of psychedelics is to restrict glucose to the brain (a similar thing happens to schizophrenics naturally), and also of course on Aldous Huxley's own experience with these substances. This seems to imply some higher source, a soul perhaps.

I have had psychedelic experiences in the past and I can vouch for the fact that there are certain things you can see whilst high on psychedelics that are just not apparent in every day life; such as the complete intricate complexity of all the ripplings in a river or pond where each motion is "separated" out fully, or the true ugliness of the human being creature (as if for that period of time you are beyond human and can look at your strange body in all it's civilised weirdness). The most poignant thing I can think of was looking at a spot I had. I could see right down "through" the skin almost to the very root of the problem, but when I looked at it the next day i couldn't see what I'd seen at all, just an ordinary, insignificant blemish. A friend of mine has theorised that human's have a sort of social persona/aura which masks their true appearance, even to themselves, perhaps based on hormones.

Now maybe you're thinking "this is just because you're mind is being fucked up", but that simply isn't a good enough explanation for it. It raises this whole other question of why that would happen. What is causing your mind to make up such perfectly real sights right in front of your seemingly sober enough (i.e. not incapacitated) mind?

I do not condone the social use of drugs anymore, but I've always had a fondness for this idea and would like your opinions on it.

Re: The brain acting as a reduction valve.
March 05, 2010, 03:55:31 PM
Voluntarily introducing oneself to some aspects of psychosis is a diversion from engaging with life. Watching TV is less expensive, thus more of a rational alternative.

Re: The brain acting as a reduction valve.
March 05, 2010, 05:28:04 PM
Wouldn't this theory mean that the smaller the brain the less inhibition of perception, therefore a mosquito-sized brain would perceive more complexity than a human brain? That actually sounds quite reasonable. But human brains have developed throughout evolution and most would argue we're able to perceive more than we would have 50,000 years ago. I haven't read the book but maybe it's only a part of the brain that does this, and drugs like cannabis reverse the inhibiting effect.


Re: The brain acting as a reduction valve.
March 05, 2010, 07:41:30 PM
Its mentioned as "Latent inhibition" in AI and psych literature. Its what allows animals to separate the relevant from irrelevant while preventing sensory overload.


Most people are able to ignore the constant stream of incoming stimuli, but this capability is reduced in those with low latent inhibition. It is hypothesized that a low level of latent inhibition can cause either psychosis or a high level of creative achievement[3] or both, which is usually dependent on the subject's intelligence.[4][2] Those of above average intelligence are thought to be capable of processing this stream effectively, enabling their creativity. Those with less than average intelligence, on the other hand, are less able to cope, and so as a result are more likely to suffer from mental illness.[5]

The "Monty Hall Problem" is sometimes used to illustrate the effects of bounded rationality and latent inhibition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Hall_problem

Re: The brain acting as a reduction valve.
March 05, 2010, 07:59:22 PM
It's ad hoc to attribute a cannabis habit to our own body's stimulus sorting conditional process. I'm not against cannabis use. I'm against the myths surrounding its use. It's entertainment for burnouts, nothing more.

Re: The brain acting as a reduction valve.
March 05, 2010, 08:57:33 PM
I do not consume cannabis because the people selling it look strange and thus I do not trust the product. Would it be legal (in Canada) and the production of quality cannabis encouraged, I would probably try cannabis. I wonder if in the Netherlands, where I believe it is legal, the quality is monitored.

Re: The brain acting as a reduction valve.
March 06, 2010, 06:52:02 AM
Well there are many who think that by altering states of consciousness you can access something else, some sort of higher or other self. Seeing as you have to manipulate the brain (and body) to do this, I'm going to assume that it is actually the manipulation, rather than a transition to some other place or awareness. I could be wrong, but seems like it's just a hallucination of sorts to me. It's something I'd like to experience though.