Now gluten-free!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anatomy of a Brain Fart

You've driven home the same way every day for the last 10 years, but today you missed your exit. Don't worry. You're not going senile. You just had a brain fart:
    The latest research seems to indicate that brain farts are a unique type of cognitive mistake. Unlike errors caused by lack of information or experience, or by distractions, brain farts are innate. They have a predictable neural pattern that emerges up to 30 seconds before they happen. When you are absorbed in inward-focused thinking such as daydreaming, a collection of brain regions jointly called the default mode network (DMN) starts furiously popping away. Neuroscientists don't agree on exactly which parts of the brain compose this network, but they now believe it is one of the busiest neurological systems. All that activity may help explain why the adult brain, which represents only about 2 percent of the body’s total weight, consumes up to 20 percent of its energy. The DMN, while still somewhat mysterious, seems to play many critical roles in overall brain function. It may facilitate the processing of external stimuli by acting as a sort of bushwhacker, carving out communications pathways in the brain. It may foster imagina­tion and creativity. It also appears to be the main culprit in brain farts. Recent findings begin to explain why we are so prone to dumb goofs. Basically, the brain is a lazy beast; it will take any opportunity to shut down some of its processing systems. "Brains love to pick up regularities, patterns, rules," says Vince Calhoun, an expert in MRI analysis at the University of New Mexico. "As you generate an expectation, you become less attentive."
Read more on this all-too-common phenomenon here.

No comments:

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin