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Friday, September 16, 2016


The fugue of life: why complexity
matters in neuroscience

Joel Frohlich
is a PhD student at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is
examining biomarkers of autism spectrum disorders. He is also senior editor
Knowing Neurons
. Published in association with Knowing Neurons
an Aeon Partner

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Day Donaldson/Flickr
People like simplicity. Each decade, corporate
logos grow progressively minimalistic, pop
songs use ever simpler melodies, and visual arts
embrace simpler compositions as Monet gives way
to Picasso, and Picasso to Rothko. This zeitgeist,
summarised in the phrase ‘simplicity is the ultimate
sophistication’, shapes our perceptions of the human
body in interesting ways. The thumping of a beating
heart is often celebrated as nature’s beautifully simple
rhythm. And yet, a heartbeat that is too simple and too
rhythmic might be a 
warning sign of congestive heart
Perhaps the heart is an anomaly, you say. But moving
from cardiology to neurology, epileptic seizures manifest
in the brain as highly organised electrical activity in
contrast to the chaotic electrical patterns of a flourishing
brain. Continuing to psychiatry, new researchshows that
}individuals with autism have highly regular speech
patterns as compared with healthy controls.
Life is complex, but why is complexity
healthy – and why does orderliness suggest pathology
in the brain?

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