I believe that there is a possibility that “we” are not in control of our actions. This emergent feeling of consciousness is one of our most profound mysteries. But, what if instead of being active participants in our lives, we merely observe and then fabricate elaborate narratives to explain what we have done?
I feel like I am deciding to type these words. But then you can ask me “why” I decided to type these words. I may say that this is interesting to me and that I enjoy writing on my website and putting my thoughts down.
Then again: Why.
I may answer, that sitting down to focus on a single task and then seeing my efforts at the end of a session brings me some small amount of joy.
I might mumble something about brain chemicals, but that is pretty much it — I have nothing else to say that can illuminate why I am writing these words.
And if it just comes from a certain balance or imbalance of neurochemicals, can I truly say that “I” decided to write these words? Or did it just happen, and then I fabricate the above story?
There have been some experiments done on the brain that hint that this may indeed be the case, however strange it may appear.
The bundle of nerves that connects the two hemispheres of the brain is called the corpus callosum. It is a thick band of nerve fibres that runs through the brain’s centre and connects the left and right hemispheres. The corpus callosum plays an essential role in allowing the two hemispheres to communicate and exchange information. The corpus callosum is surgically severed in split-brain experiments to disconnect the two hemispheres. This is typically done to treat certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy, where seizures originate in one hemisphere and spread to the other, causing symptoms such as loss of consciousness and convulsions.
These experiments have provided insight into the unique functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain and how they work together. For example, the left hemisphere is typically associated with language and logical thinking, while the right hemisphere is associated with spatial awareness and creativity. The experiments have also shown that the two hemispheres can sometimes have conflicting desires or beliefs.
What is interesting is that different parts of the body will only provide sensory feedback to one part of the brain. So, for instance, we may show an object only to the left eye, and this information will only go to the right brain. We can then test this knowledge, and the left side of the brain, which does not know about the egg, will make up elaborate stories on why “you” picked the egg.
This makes it appear that there may be more than one area of consciousness within the brain and that our narration mechanisms are relatively advanced.