Every new experience creates new brain circuitry to retrieve it.
It’s been a wonderful semester with students from a range of backgrounds. Rich variety in a group offers so many opportunities to build the brain. Never envisioned connections open up and brand new experience is integrated with the old. What’s significant is revisited, tied to more ideas as the pathways are reinforced. The brain only fuels what gets used. What hasn’t stood out soon disappears for lack of attention. The enjoyment that comes from talking with different kinds of people grows from the repeated surprise response. It’s pleasure we get from anything that improves our knowledge and perspective.
I’m a big proponent of laughter as a general response and not just in relation to humor. The pleasure circuit is definitely involved because the aftersmile lasts longer than for a smile response. Novelty often triggers the laugh response like an unexpected punch line does in humor. The ability to shift contexts is reinforced. The pleasure of spending time with unique people is because the brain loves building new circuits and another’s novel perception requires it.
To look at the title from its other interpretation, what is so enjoyable in a good novel is the extension of perception that occurs when a characters way of seeing is fully imagined. Every student is a new main character and broadens my own way of seeing. I’ve learned so much from my students this year and have the satisfaction of seeing them now more powerful than they were when they arrived. The new circuitry is different for each of us. The parts that illuminated personal themes are always the ones most deeply woven into the fabric of every point-of-view. Something revelatory for one may not even catch another’s attention. The personal brain is a creation of each person, astounding in its individuality. Thinking in categories can make things seem much more uniform than they actually are. The richness of imagery better displays the unique mind. Nothing dramatizes this better than the last discussion of the year. Looking at the final work in so many disciplines from so many novel points-of-view, the range of response is as different as the work itself. It’s been enlarging and as always, I am grateful.