Saturday, January 13, 2007

Communication reshaping our brains

This is just a nugget of an idea. Take it where you want.

I've seen some research that says eye contact actually rewires our brains. The eye is a nerve connected straight to the brain, and as I understand it (not being a scientist) what they eye sees directly changes the wiring of neurons insidee the brain. And when one person's eyes meet those of another, the rewiring is extra intense. This suggests all sorts of poetical possibilities. If you look into a person's eyes long enough, how does your brain change? Do you become more like the other person? There is a part of the brain which tries to emulate what is going on in the brains of those around you. This may be the seat of empathy.
Then what about other nerves? The tongue is a nerve. What happens when.... Love, it stands to reason, changes who we are, chemically.
Anyway, this also has important ramifications for discourse about social issues. When people are discussing and have to look into each other's eyes, certain effects are going to be present that are absent in other situations. What are the eye-contact effects?

And what about long-term effects? If people have been discussing issues for years with eye-contact, what would happen when a particularly divisive issue arises? How would it differ if the same people had not been looking each other in the eyes for so long?

These may be impossible things to study, but we can certainly talk about them and speculate.

Getting on your nerves,

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