It is likely that you have thought at one time or another, “I wish I could understand what is going on inside my own head.” People will say that when they are talking about trying to understand why they make certain decisions. And while part of the decision-making process is still a mystery to medical professionals, they do have a better understanding of how the human brain works. One of the tools that allows them to do this is brain mapping.
The human brain is the most complicated biological organism on the planet. It has hundreds of billions of neurons as well as hundreds of billions of support cells. The human brain allows a person to store decades of memories.
The brain is not just a simple tool for storing information like a biological equivalent of a USB drive. It allows humans to use that information in a way that no other species on the planet can. Humans can build airplanes, they can create wonderful pieces of music and they can solve complicated mathematical problems.
The interesting thing is that humans do not have the largest brain on the planet. For example, an elephant’s brain is many times larger than that of the human, it weighs a lot more than that of the human and it has infinitely more neurons. Yet, an elephant lacks the abilities that humans have. This is a mystery to the medical community, and so in an attempt to understand why this is, they are using brain mapping.
Basically, brain mapping tries to understand the connection between a brain’s structure and the function that it carries out. That is, they want to understand what part of the brain gives a person a particular ability. What part of the brain makes a person a creative thinker? What part of the brain makes a person logical? How is it that some people can be both creative and logical at the same time, whereas other individuals are very strong in one aspect and completely lack the other? All of these things are part of localization of function. This is an essential part of brain mapping.
To some degree, scientists understand which part of our brain controls large functions. For example, they know which part of our brain controls sound and they know which part of our brain controls our vision. However, what they want to understand is what part of our brain allows us to differentiate between something that is red and something that is purple. Or what part of our brain is it that makes us find a particular type of music appealing while another individual will find the same music repulsive?
Brain mapping helps us to see how the human brain and the structures of the brain change as a person goes through the learning process and through the aging process. It is also a key part of understanding the way the brain changes when affected with mental illness or a different brain disease.