(Stillness in the Storm Editor) Accepted mainstream science and psychology operates from the assumption that biology is primary to the mind and consciousness—that the brain is the source of awareness and there is no such thing as telepathy, extrasensory perception, and out-of-body or near-death experiences. But this assumption is almost never questioned—or verified, and it is functionally equivalent to a dogmatic religious belief.
However, for those critical thinkers willing to analyze data on their own, taking up the pursuit of science in their own right, there are many data points available that invalidate the aforementioned assumption. The following case of Reuben Nsemoh could be one such example.
Nsemoh was playing a game of soccer when he suffered a head injury that left him in a coma—a state of being that should prevent him from experiencing anything, assuming the assumption that one’s consciousness is only located in the central nervous system and the brain. But instead of undergoing no changes, he had some difficulty concentrating and somehow developed the ability to speak Spanish fluently.
To be clear, when the brain suffers damage there is always the potential to distort or augment functions, which is documented in this case as foreign accent syndrome. But acquiring new knowledge and skill is something quite different. Neurological connections that form from complex activities like speaking a language usually involve many different aspects of the brain and body, such as visual, vocal, imagination and other centers. A precise and delicate fabric is formed within the brain during a learning process that eventually leads to fluency, or the ability to use a skill with great precision and little effort.
Consider that walking as a child takes a year on average, and even then one isn’t fluent until they reach three or four years of age. This would suggest that the likelihood one would experience a traumatic brain injury and develops a new skill by randomly destroying neural connections is probably very low—although not impossible. It is far more likely that some other-than-physical process is at work while one is disembodied, not unlike the experiences that out-of-body or near-death states provide.
In other words, the mainstream assumption is that changes in behavior are due to alterations of the brain’s structure, but there is no precise explanation of how this process works and is not supported logically when one considers how skills and learning normally take place. In fact, there are many studies and cases that show traumatic brain injury has a deleterious effect on cognitive and motor function, often requiring long episodes of rehabilitation to restore a modicum of what was present before injury.
Most psychologists suppose that such a radical enhancement of one’s language centers, leading to increased capacities, must indicate that our understanding of the brain and consciousness lacks comprehension of how changes in neural physiology can alter behavior. That is to say, some assert that these cases are an example that proves that learning is nothing but an arrangement of neurons and their connections, which if altered can affect one’s skill set. But there doesn’t seem to be evidence to support this conclusion, it is merely an unverified assumption.
Conversely, there are many near-death and out-of-body experiences that suggest consciousness itself can “detach” from the body, gain experience and thus learn, which is then brought back into the body later as a new skill. And there are also many cases of inspiration and invention taking place in dreams, which is similar in that the brain is in an altered state of consciousness that seems to be functionally equivalent to a waking state’s capacity to acquire knowledge. Although there are marked differences between dreaming and coma, the common element is the development of new skills through means not associated with direct experience, which occurs despite the body being unconscious.
Of course, without more rigorous study, all one can do is speculate as to what might have caused Nsemoh sudden acumen in Spanish. But what should be taken from this example is that, while mainstream science contends it has many of these mysteries solved, offering up indoctrinated explanations to explain cases like Nsemoh, there appears to be a lack of adequate research of how the mind, consciousness, and body truly relate to each other.
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In short, confirmation bias—or what we might call explanation bias—is the tendency to discount or believe something because someone has formed an explanation that sounds accurate—yet has not been tested. But just because a theory sounds good doesn’t make it true. And as those seeking to understand how these cases work, one should keep in mind that there are a staggering number of theories brandished about in science that have never been verified—but are assumed to be true in the same way religious doctrine is accepted without question.
Dogma, in any capacity, is a limiting factor in the acquisition of new knowledge and insight.
One should not suppose because everyone else accepts something to be true that it actually is true. Personal verification, exploration, and contemplation of all ideas, premises, beliefs and suppositions are essential to avoid the trappings of dogma and the closing of the mind to undiscovered realms of understanding.
by Doug Criss, October 25th 2016
Life’s been full of uncertainties for Reuben Nsemoh lately.
Ever since he suffered a concussion in a soccer game, the suburban Atlanta teen’s worried about why it’s so hard for him to concentrate. He’s fretted over whether he’ll ever get to play his favorite sport.
But the biggest stumper of all: how is it that he’s suddenly speaking fluent Spanish?
Nsemoh, a 16-year-old high school sophomore, ended up in a coma last month after another player kicked him in the head during a game.
When he woke up, he did something he’d never done before: speak Spanish like a native.
His parents said he could already speak some Spanish, but he was never fluent in it until his concussion.
Slowly, his English is coming back, and he’s starting to lose his Spanish fluency.
A rare condition
Foreign accent syndrome is an extremely rare condition in which brain injuries change a person’s speech patterns, giving them a different accent. The first known case was reported in 1941, when a Norwegian woman suffered shrapnel injuries to the brain during a German bombing run — and started speaking with a German accent.
Since then there have been a few dozen reported cases.
Three years ago, police found a Navy vet unconscious in a Southern California motel. When he woke up, he had no memory of his previous life, and spoke only Swedish.
In Australia, a former bus driver got in a serious car crash that left her with a broken back and jaw. When she woke up, she was left with something completely unexpected: a French accent.
And earlier this year, a Texas woman who had surgery on her jaw, has sported a British accent ever since.
“It’s an impairment of motor control,” Dr. Karen Croot, one of the few experts in foreign accent syndrome, told CNN a few years ago. “Speech is one of the most complicated things we do, and there are a lot of brain centers involved in coordinating a lot of moving parts. If one or more of them are damaged, that can affect the timing, melody and tension of their speech.”
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