Scientists are lately busy mapping the places in the human brain that are active during thought. This is a time honored practice, and not far off base. When a human stares at an object the visual areas of the brain are more active than usual, and when another is in telepathic communication with the staring human, both have the same areas of their brains active. This has been known and recorded for decades. What is recent is the attempt to document by what means humans think, arrive at conclusions, or have, for instance, a brilliant insight. One can map with simple animals, trained in a maze, the learning curve whereby they learn that to follow the smooth wall, for instance, they arrive at food. The first time this occurs it is by accident, so the rat makes an association. Smooth walls = food. The next time the rat is put into a maze, if hungry, the rat will give more weight to exploring smooth walled paths over rough textured routes. What's going on here?
The mental association in the rat's brain is a chemical sequence in the existing brain cells in certain areas of the brain. Hunger in the rat is now connected to those sections of the brain which hold visual and tactile imprints. These imprints, as well as the pathways, are chemical. These imprints, or stored data, and pathways wax strong or weak, depending on how often they are used. More use, strengthened chemistry. Less use, debilitated chemistry. If the rat does not continue to find food via smooth walls, it will explore these paths less and less often, until smooth walls have no more significance for the rat than any other type of wall. These chemical pathways are not identical. They have characteristics that relate to the area of the brain they point to, and in simple worms are somewhat transferable.
Worms, taught to head to the right or left for food or to avoid injury, can have their brains fed to other worms, who then seem to have ingested knowledge. What's going on here? The brain chemicals, not broken down during digestion, migrate in the blood stream to the brain, and being of similar chemical composition in similar worms, attach to the brain pathways of the new host. The chemistry for right or left is specific in these worms, being on one side of the brain or another with some slight differences, and where these differences weigh only slightly they weigh enough to set the ingesting worm to favor connecting to one side of the brain or another. A transferred learned response, proving that the brain works by chemistry, chemical paths and chemical images.
Emotions are chemistry, generated from within. Sensations, the power of the brain to retain ideas, is also intrinsically allied with chemical reactions. In fact, it forms the base. What else would there be? Hormones stimulate feelings, and homones are created by nervous stimulation of the glands. It is all intertwined. Senses receive light rays or heat, or other such stimuli that create chemical reactions that travel along nerves and are then stored in your brain by chemical changes. These chemical changes are so slow to deteriorate that you die before many of them do, which is why you have a memory. This is a chemical store, similar to a computer databank, in which chemical changes are virtually permanently etched in your brain.
Complex thought can be broken down into thousands of steps, where sensory memories are related. Even the abstract concept of numbers is related to sensory memories. The child piling blocks is noting that four blocks pile higher than three, and the concept of greater than is related to these counts. Does the one pile not loom higher? When adding just one block onto the short pile, they are equal. An incipient algebraic equation is building in the babe's mind. Great thoughts are built from many small mental data stores, and many more connections. Great insights are simply where two or more formerly unrelated connections bridge, to become related. How does this bridging occur?
It is known that people think best while pacing, and that palsied children not able to crawl or walk lack some ability to learn concepts. Bridging occurs when the chemicals needed to build a new pathway are in abundance in a certain part of the brain. It is accidental in that the connection is only by proximity, but no accident in that the brain areas rich with these chemicals are so active because they relate to the issue at hand. Thus the brain is just making an introduction. Here, you two places are both active, speak to each other. Thus, the child finding himself staring at a wall he wishes to climb over, and seeing some boxes near at hand, recalls his pile of blocks. An a'ha occurs, as his memory of blocks connects to this sight of the boxes, which have a similar shape. Presto. Thought.