Given we’re talking about a headline, the purpose of which is to very generally introduce potential readers to the argument that follows in the essay it introduces, I am honestly not sure how seriously to take this criticism. I seriously doubt anyone thinks that I am arguing the brain is “literally wired.” I am open to suggestions as to a better metaphor/analogy, keeping in mind a certain amount of pith is required in headlines. Of course, anything you suggest, pithy or otherwise, will necessarily also be metaphorical and therefore also lack the capacity to “literally” describe the structure and functioning of the brain. However, closer approximations to our best current understanding are welcome.

With all that said, brain plasticity is somewhat analogous to rewiring. New dendritic branches do grow and spread over the course of a lifetime, a fact which you allude to in your comment. This spreading is often considerable following a brain injury such as a stroke. But that this “rewiring” does not “literally” involve wiring at all hopefully goes without saying. That wiring serves as a useful metaphor is due entirely to the fact that both wires and neurons function as vehicles for moving energy and information across space. Regardless, let me be clear. I don’t think the brain functions just, or even truly much, like the hardwired circuit laden laptop I am typing this response on, let alone the far simpler wiring that brings electricity to it. The word wiring is intended here as little more than a handy metaphor to facilitate a very broad discussion of biology and its role in our moral development as both individuals and as a species. This was not a peer reviewed paper and I am not a neuroscientist or biologist striving to articulate in great detail the physical structures of the brain.

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US citizen residing in British Columbia, Canada. Degrees include anthropology and environmental studies. Activism, politics, science, nature.

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