Is the Brain really necessary?
Really, Lee? What kind of a question is that? Well, let’s find out.
Kim Peek has one of the most extraordinary and phenomenal memories every documented. Kim began memorizing books at the age of 18 months, as they were read to him. He has memorized 9000 books by heart so far. He read Tom Clancy’s book The Hunt for Red October in one hour and twenty-five minutes. Four months later, when asked to give the name of the Russian radio operator in the book, he referred to the page describing the character and quoted several pages verbatim. He reads a page in eight to ten seconds and places the memorized book upside down on the shelf to signify that it is now on his mental “hard drive”.
Kim’s memory extends to at least 15 interests – among them, World and American history, sports, space programs, the Bible, Church history, Shakespeare and classical music. He knows all the area codes and zip codes in the US together with television stations serving those locales. He can identify hundreds of classical compositions, tell when and where each was composed and first performed, give the name of the composer and even discuss the tonal components of the music. Most intruiging of all, he appears to be developing a new skill in life and for the past two years is learning to play music.
When Kim was born on November 11th, 1951, he had an enlarged head, on the back of which was an encephalocele, or baseball sized “blister”. But there were other brain abnormalities including no left brain, no corpus callosum and a much smaller, malformed cerebellum. How can one have arguably one of the best memories in the world with significantly severe “brain damage”?
Kim, as you may have already concluded, is autistic. He walks with a sidelong gait, cannot button his clothes, cannot manage the chores of daily life and has great difficulties with abstraction.
He underwent psychological testing in 1988 and his full scale IQ was 87 The Verbal and Performance subtests varied greatly, with some scores falling in the superior range of intelligence (IQ over 120) and others in the mentally retarded range (IQ under 70). The psychological report concluded that… “Kim’s IQ classification is not a valid description of his intellectual ability”. The “general intelligence” versus “multiple intelligences” debate rages on in psychology. It would appear that Kim’s case argues for the “multiple intelligences” point of view.
Kim’s prodigious memory caught the attention of writer Barry Morrow and inspired him to write the screen play for Rain Man whose main character, Raymond Babbit is a savant played by actor Dustin Hoffman.
There is a database of over 37,000 persons diagnosed as autistic in the United States and every single one of them is right brained dominant. It would appear that when the left hemisphere cannot function properly, the right hemisphere compensates by developing new skills, perhaps by recruiting brain tissue normally earmarked for other purposes. Perhaps – but not certain.
In related research, British neurologist Dr. John Lorber published an article in Science, one of the most prestigious science journals in the world on five men who were diagnosed with hydrocephalus – a condition where the head is abnormally enlarged, filled mostly with spinal fluid and the diagnosis usually includes “severe mental retardation”.
In a normal brain, the thickness of the cortex is 4.5 centimeters. In the cases of Dr. Lorber’s five subjects, typical of hydrocephalus, the cortex was only one millimetre thick! However, and this is where you should be sitting down, each man scored over an IQ of 125 on the Wechsler Belleview – probably the best, most researched IQ test in the world.
How can that be – with just one percent of the cortex – arguably the most important part of our brain – is practically non-existent and yet scoring in the top 2% to 4% of the population intellectually.
Surely you must be thinking, “Where are the memories of Kim Peek and the men with hydrocephalus stored?”. Obviously, the hardware (brain) is severely compromised. Could it be that the software (mind) is not in the brain but in the field?
Author Lynn McTaggert interviewed several of the world’s top physicists and based on these intense discussions wrote a book – The Field. It is one of my favorite all time books which I have re-read three times. In essence, everything that has ever happened is happening or will happen (all possible futures) is on the Zero Point Field. According to physicist Dr. Hal Puthoff, The Field is a… “kind of self-generating grand ground state of the universe” which constantly refreshes itself and remains a constant unless disturbed in some way.
Thus, according to this theory, we ‘dip’ into our individual specific field of information to retrieve memories, create new thought patterns and create our reality. There are individual specific fields, “family” fields, cultural fields and universal fields – all containing and creating information.
Another perspective to perhaps help understand this very important concept is that in the room you are sitting in this moment contains literally dozens or hundreds of fields. Every AM and FM station, every TV station is in the vibratory domain of our environment. With proper ultra high frequency receivers – a good short-wave radio, you can pick up the field information of radio Tehran Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Australia and so forth. There are fields within fields, within fields, everywhere around us.
Therefore, Kim Peek, despite his severely damaged brain is somehow able to expand the bandwidth of his brain by dipping into and having greater access to this encyclopedic, exhaustive and universal field of knowledge. As I am writing this blog, I am lifting information from my field to share with you – and hopefully for the new information to become part of your field. And so it goes.
To give you an idea of the magnitude of the total energy in the Zero Point Field, the great physicist Richard Feynman once said that “there is enough energy in a cubic meter of space to boil all of the oceans in the world”.
Lee Pulos, Ph.D., ABPP