Afternoons can be rather slow times in my house even to the extent of involving an after lunch nap, on the other hand I can invite the cleverest people into my sitting room to talk to me. This afternoon David Eagleman came to explain his theories on how the brain works, alas not in the flesh but through the digital wonder of television. He is a neuroscientist with great skill in presenting revolutionary ideas in a way that any non-scientist can understand. He is presenting a series of programmes on BBC 4 on how your brain produces you and my brain produces me.
The graphics were superb a brain flashing and twinkling to show the thousands of connections the neurons make so we can make sense of our world. Of course children’s brains are developing the fastest and there was tragic sequence about Romanian children neglected in orphanages during the Nicolae Ceausescu dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. In order to deal with the low birth rate, family planning and abortion were banned, resulting in many abandoned children. Human babies are helpless at birth but they develop very quickly in the early years with the right stimulation and care. Eagleman showed a family who had adopted four of these children after they were four years old. The loving care they received could not make up for the deprivation of those first four years. Although now adults they were still mentally disabled. Fortunately they are still part of a loving family who adopted them.
Human beings are such amazing animals and we can be so careless of the care and nourishment these precious babies need. History is what we were yesterday and ignorance may mean we will return to our past tomorrow.