Because brains are so complicated, people who explain them routinely search for analogies.
- Your brain is like a muscle: practice makes it grow stronger.
- Your brain is like an orchestra, and the prefrontal cortex is the conductor.
- Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is like MiracleGro for synapses.
All such analogies have weaknesses; a few of them have their uses. Most often, the brain is so amazingly unusual that it’s like itself and nothing else.
This article from Science Magazine, however, offers a precise and unusual analogy (and, an unusually precise analogy): your brain is like the internet. Specifically, the way long-term memories strengthen (and weaken) resembles control of information flow on the internet.
Especially if you’re technology savvy, you might enjoy this particular comparison.
If you’ve got brain analogies that you especially like — or don’t like — you might put them in the comments below.