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How Much Produce Yous Know Well-Nigh Your Ain Brain?

We tend to believe we're aware of what's happening inwards our ain brains, as well as also inwards witting command of our behavior.  But a growing torso of neuroscience as well as psychology interrogation demonstrates that most of what happens within the brain-- including the processes that movement us to guide as well as execute behaviors-- is beyond our witting awareness.  This has of import implications for our eating behavior, torso weight, as well as health, every bit I explore inwards my upcoming mass The Hungry Brain.

Let me give you lot a straightforward event that illustrates how fiddling of our brain's activity we're aware of.  It focuses on information processing past times the visual system, which is 1 of the best-understood systems of the brain.  I drew the basic facts of this event from a recent talk by the accomplished neuroscience researcher Marcus Raichle, who studies patterns of activity inwards the human brain.


Consider the retina of the eye.  It's composed of to a greater extent than than 100 1000000 light-sensitive cells called photoreceptors.  These cells capture x billion (10^10) bits of information per 2nd from your visual surroundings.  That's a huge total of information!  In fact, it's far likewise much for the encephalon to procedure effectively.

Before the information fifty-fifty leaves the retina, it goes through its commencement phase of processing as well as compression.  By the fourth dimension the information enters the optic nervus that connects the retina to the brain, it has been compressed downwards to vi 1000000 (6 x 10^6) bits per second-- a reduction of nearly 1,700-fold.  This is because, instead of passing along a precise re-create of the visual field, the retina begins extracting salient information from it as well as passing that along instead.  This is similar to how picture compression plant on your figurer (e.g., bitmap to JPEG format).

But the compression doesn't destination there.  Once the information reaches the visual cortex of your brain, it's compressed downwards to x K (10^4) bits per second.  The encephalon does this past times farther extracting meaningful information from the retinal data, translating it into increasingly abstract terms, as well as ignoring irrelevant information.  Now the information is starting to resemble vector graphics to a greater extent than than a JPEG file.  Rather than specifying the seat of private "pixels", the information denotes patterns as well as objects as well as how they're moving.

From the visual cortex, researchers guess that less than 100 (10^2) bits per 2nd of visual information reaches our witting awareness.  That's exclusively 0.000001 per centum of the information your retinal photoreceptors registered, as well as 0.01 per centum of the information that entered your brain.  This information is highly processed as well as filtered-- thence much so, that it's predominantly conceptual at that point.  You don't run into each private pilus on your friend's caput as well as each sew together inwards his Christmas sweater; you lot merely run into your friend wearing a Christmas sweater amongst reindeer on it.  And if something irrelevant is happening behind him, you lot don't run into it at all.  If you lot don't believe that, watch this video.

Since the processing ability of the witting encephalon is quite limited, the non-conscious encephalon feeds it information on a need-to-know basis.  You may non truly move consciously seeing much at all if you're listening to something intently, as well as you lot in all probability won't run into something inwards your left visual land if you're paying attending to the right.  Yet, non-conscious parts of your encephalon are yet monitoring everything outside as well as within your body, looking for of import signals that could move worth alerting the witting brain.  For example, if you're trying to cross the street as well as something large inwards your peripheral vision is moving chop-chop toward you, it volition larn your attending fifty-fifty if you lot were focusing on a billboard a 2nd ago.

This is consistent amongst the interrogation of the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who wrote the wonderful mass Thinking, Fast as well as Slow.  Kahneman contends that the encephalon tin give the sack move conceptually divided into ii "systems".  System 1 is fast, intuitive, automatic, as well as non-conscious.  System 2 is slow, effortful, deliberative, as well as conscious.  Since organisation 2 is what nosotros perceive, nosotros retrieve it's who nosotros are, but inwards fact Kahneman believes that organisation 1 does most of our processing as well as guides most of our everyday behaviors.  System 1 is non 1 thing, but rather a various collection of ancient, non-conscious encephalon circuits.

The visual organisation event I explained to a higher house is 1 illustration of how neuroscience interrogation supports Kahneman's idea.  What nosotros perceive is exclusively a small-scale fraction of what's happening within our really ain brains!  That's form of amazing, isn't it?  It's also counterintuitive, because nosotros aren't aware of what nosotros can't perceive, thence nosotros tend to intuitively retrieve that our witting encephalon is all that exists.

My master copy interests are eating demeanour as well as torso fatness, as well as that's what my mass is about.  As it turns out, the view that our brains are primarily non-conscious has of import implications for agreement how nosotros swallow as well as what nosotros weigh.  If we're primarily conscious, rational beings, as well as thence the best trend to guide our demeanour inwards a slimming administration is to consciously regulate the divulge of calories entering as well as leaving the body.  This is typified past times the "eat less, displace more" approach to weight loss, which plant extremely good inwards metabolic ward studies where demeanour is externally controlled, but non thence good inwards existent life.

On the other hand, if our demeanour is oftentimes guided past times non-conscious processes that are to a greater extent than impulsive than rational, we'll quest a dissimilar approach: seat the signals that influence these processes, as well as render signals that align our impulses amongst our witting goals of leanness as well as health.

While both the witting as well as the non-conscious encephalon are of import for behavior, ultimately I believe we'll larn better, easier, as well as to a greater extent than sustainable outcomes past times acknowledging that the non-conscious encephalon is oftentimes belongings the reins of our behavior.


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