Metaphors for the Brain

The is a . . . ?
"Metaphor" = "a figure of speech in which one object is likened to another by speaking of it as if it were that other."
--- Definition of "metaphor" from Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary.

Patrick Gunkel, a neuroscientist formerly at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was asked by a student to be interviewed for a classroom project. In preparation for the interview, Patrick came up with a list of metaphors for the brain.

The following table lists some of the things that the brain has been compared to and describes why they are similar the brain. Not all of the items include the explanation of "why." That is your job. Try to fill in the "Because it..." box for each of these things? In other words, why do you think a camera is similar to a brain? Why is a telephone switchboard similar to a brain? Read "The Brain vs. The Computer" and "A Computer in Your Head?" to get some ideas.

Brain Metaphors
The Brain is a:Because it:
Spider webis delicate, minimal, hypersensitive, and connects many things. It responds instantly and simultaneously to outside events.
Prismbreaks white light (seemingly ONE thing) into many colors
Butterflycross-pollinates flowers
Fermenteris similar to a vat of yeast which allows things to grow and change
Lensmagnifies and concentrates energy to an intense point (focus)
Lampallows you to see things better
Spaceshipcan orbit whole world and travel to other worlds
Maphas different geographical features each with unique characteristics
Atlasis a collection of maps (of all scales and types)
Mirrorcan see things as others see it and see other things and oneself from ALL angles
Treehas branches that diverge and converge
Riverhas many tributaries that branch
Bunch of toysmust be played with to learn all sorts of things
a frienddoes things together, shares and compares knowledge
Factorymanufactures things
Toolboxcan be used in all sorts of ways to make all sorts of things
Thundercloudaccumulates and then suddenly and briefly releases great energy
Snowflake
or crystal
grows symmetrically from center point to 'huge' size
Cookbookcontains recipes for making all sorts of things
Music or
Dance
orchestrates movement of things, ideas, or emotions
Camera
Telephone switchboard
Lever
Catalyst
Distiller
Rat trap
Office
Servant
Army
Bee hive
Ant colony
Engine
Generator
Nuclear reactor
Aerial view
Plane flying around
Dictionary
Encyclopedia, library
Game
War
Evolution
Life
Society
Democracy
Government
Rain
Epidemic (contagion)
Chemical reaction
Playground
School
Family
Clock
Yardstick
Balloon
Sheet
Landscape
Soil
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