The process of growing up
I got thinking the other night about all the many things our brain does as we grow up. From the moment of birth, the human brain handles so much input and processes so much data, that it boggles my brain. While humans are not computers, there is a similarity between our brains and computers that may be useful to understanding us.
We’re born with a basic OS, operating system. Much of it is hard coded, keeping the heart beating, breathing, digestion. No matter how we develop, we will never exercise much operator control over many of our internal devices.
A baby’s first task at birth is learning to use the various input devices. The five senses don’t come with a manual in PDF although basic instructions are provided. It’s noisy. Baby was used to the muffled sounds inside the mother’s body. It’s bright and smelly and so on. Baby must learn to control the dials for these input devices, first the on / off switches and then the ever more finely tuned controls.
Meanwhile, baby’s brain is learning to process the data from input devices. The data is organized, categorized and searchable if baby’s brain is working properly. For example, a baby goes from noise – moderate, to noise – moderate – variations in timbre, pitch and tone to human voice – moderate – variations in timbre, pitch and tone, to mom and dad’s voices.
I’ve speculated before on whether or not humans are born with instinctual responses. Perhaps fear of the dark and fear of falling are instinctual. Or, they may be the results of processing by baby during those earliest days and months that never is refined into more descriptive terms. Are they a file that was lost in memory because of baby’s earliest inability to catalogue data with the precision that it will be capable of in the future?
It’s accepted that babies cannot see well for several weeks after birth. From their perspective, they need to learn to manage the input from their eyes. Binocular focus is not a birth skill but one that is developed. As the days pass after birth, the baby’s brain learns to operate the eyes with ever increasing control, until focus and tracking have become a programmed routine.
That’s the key to the basic OS. It is heuristic, and most of the operation of the input devices, once learned, can be reduced to programmed routines. Call it muscle memory in some cases. It’s not the muscle memory for the pole vault but the muscle memory that focuses baby’s eyes on mommy’s face.
The OS gets upgraded several times during a child’s life. Devices are added, data analyzed, tagged and stored. Corrective routines are developed for all devices and for data storage. All of this takes place in an experimental atmosphere, and not all routines are thoroughly vetted before being distributed to the user. From baby’s first poop, life is a process of gathering inputs, analyzing data, learning to operate devices and upgrades to the OS.
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