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Science & Technology

Why aren't humans constantly hallucinating ?

July 21, 2019 | Comment icon 13 comments



Why do our brains not become distracted by randomly misfired neurons ? Image Credit: CC 2.0 Andrew Mason
A fascinating new study has highlighted just how sensitive, yet finely tuned the human brain actually is.
In a recent experiment, scientists used a technique known as optogenetics - which involves the insertion of light-sensitive genes in to an animal's brain - to trigger hallucinations in mice.

Particularly surprising was the fact that, despite mice brains having millions of neurons, the researchers only had to trigger 20 of them to achieve the hallucination.

This begs the question - given that humans have exponentially more neurons than mice - why aren't we constantly experiencing hallucinations due to random misfires within the brain ?

"A mouse brain has millions of neurons; a human brain has many billions," said senior study author and neuroscientist Karl Deisseroth from Stanford University. "If just 20 or so can create a perception, then why are we not hallucinating all the time, due to spurious random activity?"
The answer, Deisseroth argues, could be that mammalian brains are a lot more finely tuned that anyone had realized, being capable of responding to a very small number of brain cells without becoming distracted by randomly misfired neurons.

It's also possible that other sensations such as emotions and memory may work in a similar way.

"We don't know how many cells it might take to trigger a more elaborate thought, sensory experience, or emotion in a person," said Deisseroth.

"But it's likely to be a surprisingly small number, given what we're seeing in the mouse."

Source: Live Science | Comments (13)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by godnodog 3 years ago
Define "hallucination", cause everyday I see some crazy ass stuff happening out there that makes me think I am some sort of an extra terrestrial 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Big Jim 3 years ago
I had the same question as the previous posters and one more.  How do you know when a mouse is hallucinating?
Comment icon #6 Posted by highdesert50 3 years ago
Reduced to the absurd; too much hallucinating results in being eaten by a predator. Hence, unlikely to procreate and propagate the trait. As for idiots who are elected into positions of authority; well, for the half of the population that is above average in intelligence, there is the other half that is below average, and unfortunately, they vote too ;)
Comment icon #7 Posted by quiXilver 3 years ago
Humans entirely hallucinate reality. Human perception is signal interpretation,from partial information.  Not raw reception of absolute reality.   Our senses are transducers for signals from the frequencies of the world we can receive signals from; these signals are only partial information (hence the need for notions such as dark matter to account for all that lies beyond our ken) and these signals are interpreted.  The interpretations vary by individual, but share flavors of similiarity in Culture, Tribe and Social influences.  How we interpret the signals of perception determines our experi... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Inversion5 3 years ago
Dreaming is hallucinating, i figure. So everyone hallucinates at one point in their lives or often. Some people might actually be dreaming while awake. So maybe the world is a dream to them. There are so many different people out there, I can't imagine this is not the case. Would be so cool to find someone like that though. I do remember a documentary of a guy that never slept, like literally had not slept for 30 years, or something like that, and all he did was organize things. His entire huge apartment was nothing but filing cabinets and cubbyholes. Could be related. Also: "We don't know how... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by Calibeliever 3 years ago
Merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Desertrat56 3 years ago
I was thinking the same thing, only without the stoner voice, considering how different people have different perspectives and assumptions about the same things.  Even multiple witnesses have different versions of an incident based  on their bias, preoccupation, what they pay attention to.  For example, I could identify someone by their shoes but might not remember the color of their eyes.  
Comment icon #11 Posted by Farmer77 3 years ago
Wait........you guys arent?
Comment icon #12 Posted by TripGun 3 years ago
All peoples personalities are just figments of their imagination - interperceptually speaking of course.
Comment icon #13 Posted by ThereWeAreThen 2 years ago
Well there are millions of people who believe in the paranormal so yes. There are humans constantly hallucinating. 


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