VELLORE: Recent studies have pointed out that the functioning of the human brain is similar to how nature functions and more understanding of this complex organ could reveal mysteries behind the relationship between mind, brain and behavioural aspects, said Dr Philip Ninan, affiliate professor of psychiatry and behavioural medicine attached to the East Carolina University. He was here to deliver a keynote address at the third edition of ‘Cognitio’, an all India research symposium for the undergraduate medical students being organised by the Christian Medical College (CMC) here on Friday.
Speaking to Express on the sidelines of the event, Dr Ninan said that the brain decides to allocate resources depending on the usage of neural networks and that the unused portion of the cortex are destroyed by the brain. The maximum development of brain takes place between the age of 4 and 21 when the brain learns to get a pattern of usage of the 10 billion plus neurons and the learning behaviour is controlled by this pattern. While various studies in neuroscience in the last 20 years has made strides in understanding brain to some extent, we still lack tools to measure brain neurons, he said.
Dr Ninan, who is a specialist in behavioural science, while expressing concern over the increased suicidal tendency among elderly persons, especially males, both in the US and Asia, said that a fluctuating pattern had emerged in the recent past deviating from more youngsters getting affected by suicidal tendency to those in 50-70 age group now. 65 per cent of men and 35 per cent women committed suicide globally but among women 65 per cent stopped with attempt often not resulting in mortality.
Similarly, a large section of population has different pattern of fears and anxieties which could be treated and prevented only if the brain pattern was understood. The brain learns fear while associating with some event or information and we can undo fear only if we go deep into the system to know the pattern of association. Narrating the experience of some of his patients in the USA, he said that the brain creates a virtual reality in the mind which is the basis of our fantasies and which in turn decided the behaviour. When once the brain was made to derive evidence from objective and subjective information that had created the pattern of fear or phobia, the patients recovered from this particular phobia, he said.
Later, addressing the students, Dr Ninan explained how the research activities has helped in improving brain development. Describing brain as an incredible learning organ in the whole universe, he said, “if you do not use brain, you lose its vital power and functioning”. Learning and knowledge pursuit, continuous reading, persistent training and practice helps in keeping the brain active, he added.