I have recently pondered the way the brain processes pain and emotion. I know my friends with dementia are more likely to remember an event if an emotion is attached to that event. However, a conversation this week enlightened me a bit further.
For a moment, think of the worse pain you have ever experienced. For me that pain would be labor pain. I remember the day, the surroundings, the conversation, but I cannot recall how the pain felt. A few years ago, I was involved in a nasty car accident. I found myself on the sofa for about three weeks in quite a bit of pain and discomfort. I remember being miserable. I remember wishing I felt better and was able to participate in my regular daily activities. I do not, however, remember exactly how the pain in my back, neck, and shoulders felt as I tried to recover.
Now, think about an event that was very sad. The memory that comes to mind for me is the death of my miniature dachshund. If I think about this event for even just a few minutes, I can recall the details quite vividly. Strangely enough, I can actually begin to feel the physical pain I felt at the moment I realized he had died. My body aches, my stomach churns, and I become physically ill.
Isn’t it interesting that pain involved with emotion can be recalled so vividly, yet pain that is not involved with emotion is only remembered in the abstract?
Think about a very happy event in your life. While thinking of this event, did you experience a feeling of lightness in your being, a lift of your spirit, a smile on your face, or an improvement in your mood? That memory is attached to the emotion of happiness, and your brain is wired to remember that event in a certain way.
All this causes me to marvel at the complexity of the human brain. Scripture teaches us “we are fearfully and wonderfully made”. The more I learn about the brain, the more real this verse becomes for me. I hope this gives you “Something To Ponder”.