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How many dimensions is the brain equipped to handle?

  1. Dec 15, 2005 #1
    Is the brain's perception of space trained or is it ingrained and locked to 3? That is, would a baby raised in a 4 *evident* space dimensional world be able to adapt or only cope?
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2005 #2
    From an evolutionary point of view, the brain is equipped to handle 3 spatial dimensions because it is necessary and sufficient to keep us alive, and has for millions of years. A brain that is adapted for gathering fruits on trees is not well-suited for anything as abstract as 4 dimensional geometry. However, we still do it with the aid of a variety of tools.
  4. Dec 17, 2005 #3


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    It depends on what you mean by "handle". Mathematicians are quite at home treating any finite number of dimensions and even infinitely many, in fact even continuously infinite dimensions, within the context of their study.

    If you mean "have a common sense or apperception of" then three space plus the flow of time is what we inherited from our mammal ancestors.
  5. Dec 17, 2005 #4
    As many as it occupies.
  6. Dec 17, 2005 #5
    dimensions ? --but it is known from area of cognitive research that adults can only process upto 7 tasks at one time--not sure if this ability is developed via aging. And, from an evolutionary perspective, many humans are born into a 2 dimension reality of space (that is, their eyes do not have bifocal vision), yet they very nicely adapt to a 3 dimensional reality in which they exist. Thus I see no reason why someone born in 3 would not adapt to 4, or 4 to 5, etc.
  7. Dec 17, 2005 #6
    By handle I mean that if a baby were to be thrown into a 4 dimensional space as soon as it was born, would it be able to see 4 dimensional objects in their entirety or only their shadows and projections? Is the brain "software" complex enough to visually deal with n dimensions (as it develops) or only hardwired to 3? That is, does the brain start with an n dimensional template that coalesces to n = Dimensions_in_raised_environ as it grows and develops? The manner in which the visual cortex corrects is strongly based on both visual and non visual sensory experiences. In a 4 dimensional world, would it be able to take into account non visual perceptions to construct 4 dimensional representations of the world?

    My feeling is No because of the biology of the eye. And the cues used by the brain. But then maybe a different set of cues could be developed if one were able to add an extra muscle (and perhaps extra eye as well?). So i am unsure, the brain is capable of many things and seems adaptable to just about anything..

    The abstract vector spaces whose manipulations is centered on a set of axioms figures little into it as they are the manipulations of symbols in a cognitive space that is arguably 3. The last opinion is based on my intepretation of readings on gestalt theory.
    Exactly! You see my meaning. But I am not so sure that is enough. Have you any reason beyond personal why you feel this should be true?

    I begin to think that this is the wrong forum for this. Mind and brain sciences now looks to be more appropriate.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2005
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