"We always travel within ourselves"
Alexander Yakovlevich Kaplan – Head of the Laboratory of Neurophysiology and Neurointerfaces of the Biological Faculty of Moscow State University replied to our questions. M.V. Lomonosov, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor, Laureate of the State Prize of the Government of the our Federation. One of the main scientific interests of Alexander Kaplan – the development of neurocommal technologies, which, based on deciphering the electric activity of the brain, allow a person to learn how to manage external executive devices without muscle movements and voices. Now these technologies are being introduced in medicine to help patients after stroke and brain injuries.
– Alexander Yakovlevich, if a person is a lot and often travels, it somehow affects his brain, thinking?
– Man is adapted to travel. Can be said our life is a continuous journey. Mainly travel is not physically traveling, but in their imagination, from some images to others. Each person has its own special style of such travel. Some travel when read books or watch movies. Others – when they draw, poems compose, embroidered with a cross. Even if we are physically moving from the city to the city – we always travel within ourselves. I don’t see you in reality, only in my presentation. And there is no mysticism.
– How is it "don’t see"?
– We know from school that external objects with a lens are projected on the back wall of the eye – on the retina. And the retina, in the same way as the screen in the digital camera, is a matrix of photosensitive elements, only more powerful – 126 meters. On this screen, you can also consider what the observed object looks like in reality. But then the information goes on the visual nerve in the form of millions of nerve impulses, which only encode external images, but do not pass pictures. So I can’t watch you in the way you look like. "But we see each other," you say. Yes, "see", only this is not a photographic display, but re-creating your image, reconstruction made by our brain based on accumulated experience. This is the main sacrament of the brain.
– that is, everyone will have their perception seen?
– Yes. Every person will see you in its own way, since everyone has their own experience. True, in relation to many people, things and phenomena we have about the same experience, so we usually do not make mistakes when we are talking about known to many people, culinary delight or summer rain. But even more in our life experience of your deep personal. Therefore, every journey in reality turns into a personal unique journey in his ideas about it. In fact, we become directors and artists of this trip. Travel turns into a creative process. The same journey can be a big novel, a small story or simply a series of photographs depending on the traveler’s tendency to trust more of its feelings and imagination or photographic species from the window of the excursion bus.
– What area is responsible for impressions and how to get maximum pleasures from traveling?
– The task of the brain is to get information from the outside world, well and gently convert it and send further to the highest centers of the brain. And then everything is transformed into mental images and in our head comes to life the whole mental world. Our impressions depend on the nature, from individual experience, from individual preferences – in this mental world we choose cozy places, comfortable communication and … Travel. Even if you have little chance to visit the island of Mauritius physically, if you wish, this island with his relict forests and pink pigeons will be the favorite place of your holiday in the mental world. For this, not one of the brain area will be answered, but the whole brain with its sensory, motor and associative cortical zones.
– What is the meaning of traveling? Once we can travel in imagination, in our head ..
– I would say that the meaning of traveling in the real world is nothing with the comparable sense of the meeting in advance in the imagination of the image, for example, the Mausoleum Taj Mahal with his real physical embodiment, slightly swaying in streams overheated by the sun air Agra.
– And you have such an experience: when your expectations from the journey justified and the picture in the head and in reality coincided?
– Yes, it was, for example, with a journey to India. In childhood I read in kipling tales. India was for me a fabulous country, the purpose of first traveling in imagination. And once I received an invitation to work in India. I taught there at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering in the Technological Institute in the city of Kanpur and was engaged in his science – studied how to decipher the signals of the brain in order to create limb controlled by these signals.
Created in the imagination image of India so worked at a meeting with reality that I still consider this country the most attractive for me. Was there many times. You go to work – the workers slowly dig a ditch, load the shovel in a quarter of the tank, sit down separately, do something deep in themselves. No anecdots, no smashes, no drinking … The world of traveling among Fakirov, Yogins, Sacred Cows and attentive monkey eyes among the foliage of trees.
– I read that you studied the brain yoga. Please tell about this study.
– Yes, I was extremely interesting to know how the brain works in yogis, travelers inside ourselves. The goal of their travels become not distant countries and not mountain peaks, but the search for the world of pure abstractions, where there are no needs, where not only objects disappear, but also the thoughts themselves. We actively acting in real life, it is difficult to understand this. But it is possible to achieve such a goal: we are talking about manipulating your own mental world, if you just talk about meditation. They are engaged in these ordinary people: and a professor of mathematics, who worked next to me, and the excavator, and a cheerful bananas seller.
– How exactly yoga is immersed in yourself and what happens to the brain at the time of meditation?
– Even before the trip to India, I tried to study these phenomena in its laboratory Moscow. We also have centers where people do yoga. But here it looks more like autotraining. A person can engage in self-regulation: "I am good", "Warm hands", "I have no problems" … this is a way to remove the world of worries and adversity. And there, in India, meditation is a lifestyle that came from ancestors. Being visiting Indian families, more than once I watched, as among the nights, an adult or a child can get up, go to the noise with a small figurine of the beloved Godhead and sit there for 20 minutes, hour is just like that, in silence.
– Easy to find yoga for research?
– very difficult. I needed to register bioelectric signals of the brain at yogis: fasten the electrodes on the head, ask to sit without movements and t. D. With colleagues in the institute practicing meditation all life, it could be arranged, but I wanted a real yoga-wanderer. Such yogins are not sitting in place, they go from Ashram to Ashram to transmit energy to trains in this matter. And I fell to be in the Ashram Vivekananda under Bangalore – this is a non-unrest. I had to prepare two months under the guidance of Guru, who eventually admitted me worthy of living in Ashram. In this ashram, together with others, 30-40 yogins, I waited for the arrival of Yoga – Wanderer. His appearance was waiting for 30-40 yogins, they believed that his meditative field would spread to them and they would receive additional forces and skills.
– You immediately found a common language with traveling yoga?
– No. When he came, it turned out that he did not speak English, nor on Hindi, nor on one of the naschants northern India. I had to use the triple translation. Even worse there was something that we asked provocative questions: "Why do you need your research?"I tried to explain:" To study the brain ". He wondered: "Why do you study it, I don’t know everything that happens in my head". This is a collision of two human strategies. One – disassemble everything into parts, see how everything is arranged. And the second is to take everything that "as is". Here is the time: go arrows, tick the clock, but if you figure the clock, you will not see in them the time, alone gears.
– And yet he put on the electrodes?
– Yes, at some point he agreed, after I guessed what kind of food he asks, and brought her. He meditated in a stone tent, sitting on the pedestal, pouring one leg to himself and holding a staff in his hand. We agreed that when he started to get into a special state – Samadhi (according to him, in these moments his essence came out of the body), he will simply reject a little staff. I fixed these moments to see later what happens with brain activity. Several days recorded brain signals on a portable tape recorder. I look forward to magnetic ribbons to your university in Canpure, where I was waiting for the registrars to view the signals on the monitor screen. There was hope in this – to open what is happening in the brain of yoga.
– What happens to him?
– At first I was disappointed – the electric activity of the brain Yoga was almost no difference from such an ordinary person when relaxation. But a segmental analysis developed in my laboratory showed that during the periods when yogi reached the state of Samadhi and allegedly came out of the body, a series of shifts of two rhythms appeared: alpha rhythms (10 oscillations per second), which are characteristic of calm wake, and theta Rhythms (three or four oscillations per second), concomitant states of mental stress and stress. My colleagues and I called this phenomenon of "swing", because it was dominated by one, then other rhythms. This is a special brain condition. It was so deep in these periods that when I imperceptibly put the palm in front of his eyes, the pupils yoga did not respond to changes in light (he was sitting with open eyes in front of the doorway).
That he was doing inside, we do not know, but, according to the description of the classics of yoga, samadhi is periods when a person reaches the state of full knowledge, everything becomes clear and understandable. Probably, ordinary people also catch such moments, but extremely rarely: "Yes, here it is, it turns out that actually!"Completes the full clarity of everything that happens. This is the goal of traveling yoga inside yourself. I know these techniques, but to live this business and travel to these vertices, you need to do this all my life.
– It turns out, travel can be replaced by meditation?
– for the Hindu tradition so there. But we are other people, we are not enough contemplation and meditation, we need new impressions, new expanses. Because the mental world is not a cosmic yawa, but a practical model of the outside world. Traveling in the physical world, on real aircraft, steamboats and trains, on camels and elephants, for the sea and oceans – this is the reality, meeting with which we are waiting to give paints and smells, the severity and experiences of the world of our imagination.