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A Neuroscientist Tells You What’s Wrong With Your Brain

Discussion in 'Neurology' started by Ghada Ali youssef, Feb 13, 2017.

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  1. Ghada Ali youssef

    Ghada Ali youssef Golden Member

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    Dean Burnett’s new book, Idiot Brain, explains why your mind evolved to thwart you

    The research into this area is called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Can you tell me what inspired it?


    The two scientists who named the phenomenon were inspired to look into it by a report in America of a criminal who was arrested when he tried to rob a bank with no disguise. It turned out he had rubbed lemon juice on his face because he’d read that lemon juice is used to make invisible ink, so he thought by rubbing it on his face he would be invisible to security cameras. The fact that he was so confident in his deduction that he actually went and committed a felony in broad daylight in front of security cameras … led to an interesting area of science.

    Research seems to show that more intelligent people use less brain power. Why?

    [Researchers were] putting people into fMRI machines and giving them intelligence tests—deductions and puzzles. It turns out the people who are better at doing the tests, who can solve them faster and more efficiently, were showing less activity in the intelligence part of the brain. Which is obviously puzzling—if that’s the intelligence part of the brain, why are people who are more intelligent not using it? The main theory now is that it means this area is more efficient. It doesn’t need to work as hard to do the same effort as one who is less intelligent because it’s better connected, it’s more integrated.

    So we think that more intelligent people have better connected brains?

    That seems to be the general consensus in a lot of fields now, that intelligence isn’t just a mark of a few particular areas being big or small. It’s the number of connections between them.

    You write that acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers like Tylenol, can even be effective for the heartache one experiences after a breakup. How can that be?

    Yeah, that’s a weird one, isn’t it? When people say heartbreak hurts, they’re normally speaking metaphorically. But in terms of the brain, it does use the same region to process the discomfort and unpleasant sensations of a relationship breakup as it does with physical pain. So a medication like acetaminophen which works on those areas of the brain would technically have the same effect on both physical pain perception and emotional pain.

    What makes you so fascinated by the ways in which our brains trip us up?

    It’s sort of a subconscious protest against the way the brain is held in such reverence and awe. I mean, it is amazing, it is fantastic. But it’s got this mystique around it, in which people seem very reluctant to contemplate that it’s in any way flawed or imperfect. And it is. When you have a weird compulsion to do something, or a weird reaction, or an illogical response, you’re not an idiot. You’re not flawed in some way. That’s just a consequence of how the brain works. Don’t feel bad about it.

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