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  • Writer's pictureBernard Beitman, MD

The Mind-Brain Membrane: A Filter between Mind and Brain?

Solving the hard problem of the relationship between mind and brain.

Our sensory contact with external reality is limited by the narrow ranges that our sense organs can register. We can see only a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum mostly because Earth’s atmosphere screens out so much of it. We cannot see most of infrared while some animals can see more. We can hear only a narrow range of potential sounds. Whales can hear very low frequencies that we cannot. Taste, smell and touch are similarly limited. Our sense organs shape our knowledge of our surroundings. They act as “filters” for the inputs to our brains. These limited ranges of sensory capacities seem to have been developed to promote adaptation to life on Earth.

Much more is going on around us that we cannot sense. There are inventions or devices that extend the human physical senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, pressure, temperature and gravity. Yet there is more out there to be discovered than by expanding our current sensory capacities. Astrophysicists can directly observe only 5% of the universe. The rest of the universe appears to be made of a mysterious, invisible substance called dark matter (25 percent) and a force that repels gravity known as dark energy (70 percent). They are called “dark” because astrophysicists don’t know what they are made of. These dark elements comprise 95% of what the universe is made of. This means that dark energy and dark matter are right here with us right now. And we cannot sense them with our ordinary senses or with mechanical extenders. What else is out there that we cannot detect with our sensory extending instruments?

Some coincidences are clues to new realities that we cannot see. Examples include simulpathity, feeling the pain of a loved one at a distance, and human GPS, getting to where we need to be without knowing how.

Under the right conditions our brains let through experiences that tell us that something beyond our usual senses is going on. Flatland

The book Flatland provides a useful image for the intrusion of something from a different dimension into our awareness. It was written in 1884 by British school master/theologian Edwin Abbott. The main character is a square in a male population ranging from circles (royalty) to triangles (lowly workers). The women are line segments. He observes a dot on the plane that is Flatland. The dot expands into a circle and then retracts back into a point which then disappears. The Square tries to convince the royalty of the existence of another dimension. They put him in prison. In our 3D world, some coincidences may be like 4th dimensional spheres passing through our space-time grid.

Trees as metaphors

The Secret Language of Trees is coming to light.

They communicate with each other through their roots using the miles of fungi that surround them. Just as with humans, the more connected they are, the longer their life spans. There may be a “mother tree” who is connected far and wide through her roots. When she begins to die, she distributes the carbon and nutrients of her body to those youngsters more genetically like her. We look at each other and ourselves as if we are solitary individuals yet we are more like trees than we know. We too can and do communicate with each other through out-of-sight means, through tendrils in an invisible darkness.

This invisible darkness goes by many names: Big Mind, Consciousness, the Mother Sea of Consciousness, Mystery and God. I call the aspect of the greater consciousness linked to Earth, the Psychosphere, our mental atmosphere. This description resembles de Chardin’s idea of the Noosphere. The Mind-Brain Membrane

The Psychosphere is filled with energy-information that is active, churning, bubbling and layered. (Myers p. 121) Our individual minds are immersed in it yet separate from it.

What prevents the energy-information of the Psychosphere from overwhelming our own individual minds? Must be our brains. Our brains act like filters. Nietzsche asserted that truth is a mobile army of metaphors. For something as complex as this threshold between our minds and the psychosphere, multiple metaphors are necessary. Like the blind men inspecting the elephant, each metaphor provides a different part of the truth. Here are some of them:

  • Things: Reducing valve, threshold, window with a curtain, the brain as antenna, TV, radio, smartphone or laptop.

  • Processes: transmission, permission, resonating, tuning, straining, sifting, canalizing, repressing, limiting and perhaps individualizing information from the Psychosphere.

  • Threshold variability: thinning or thickening, more or less permeable.

The mind-brain membrane The cell membrane controls the movement of substances in and out of cells. Membranes vary in their thickness. They may have homogeneous or heterogeneous structure. Membranes can be neutral or charged, and particle transport can be active or passive. The latter can be facilitated by pressure, concentration, chemical or electrical gradients of the membrane process. These patterns of membrane activity may have analogues in the mind-brain membrane. Whatever metaphor becomes the future reality, our ability to experience simulpathity and human GPS are somehow tied to functional states of the brain. Researchers are currently investigating these relationships. A compelling piece to the puzzle involves the brain’s default mode network (DMN) and psychedelics. Alterations in the connectivity of the DMN are associated with consciousness changes associated with mystical experiences. Could the DMN be functionally related to the mind-brain membrane?

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