Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has memorized a sophisticated explanation for how the brain accomplishes even the simplest tasks.
In an incredible video unearthed by Mother Jones’ David Corn last Friday, the Republican presidential candidate asked an audience if they would raise their hands if they could remember the date of their birthdays.
Naturally, everyone raised their hands.
To tout the complexity of the human brain, Carson launched into a one-minute, rapid-fire explanation of what occurred inside the audience members’ bodies when they raised their hands.
“And that’s the simplified version of what your brain had to do. See if you can get one of those rap singers to do that,” he joked afterwards.
Corn reported that this particular Carson clip came from a much longer speech casting doubt on whether evolution could have constructed something as complex as the human brain. But this was not the only time Carson, a popular motivational speaker, has performed that particular speech gimmick.
Carson gave a version of it at the Iowa State Fair in August, and books about his legendary medical career have quoted him giving a nearly identical speech.
Here’s the text of what Carson says about the brain process, according to “Gifted Hands, Kids Edition: The Ben Carson Story”:
The sound waves had to leave my lips, travel through the air into your external auditory meatus, travel down to your tympanic membrane, and set up a vibratory force which travelled across the ossicles of your middle ear to the oval and round windows, generating a vibratory force in the endolymph, which mechanically distorts the microcilia, converting mechanical energy to electrical energy, which travelled across the cochlear nerve to the cochlear nucleus at the pontomedullary junction, from there to the superior olivary nucleus, ascending bilaterally up the brain stem through the lateral lemniscus to the inferior colliculus and the medial geniculate nucleus, then across the thalamic radiations to the posterior temporal lobes to begin the auditory processing, from here to the frontal lobes, coming down the tract of Vicq d’Azur, retrieving the memory from the medial hippocampal structures and the mammillary bodies, back to the frontal lobes to start the motor response at the Betz cell level, coming down the corticospinal tract, across the internal capsule into the cerebral peduncle, descending to the cervicomedullary decussation into the spinal cord grey matter, synapsing, and going out to the neuromuscular junction, stimulating the nerve and the muscle so you could raise your hand.
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