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Description: What sorts of things does your brain do (or not do) that worry you? Forget where your keys are at? Cannot find the word you think you need? Forget an upcoming event? And, when you worry what is it you are worrying about? Imperfection? Lack of planning? Or, worse, mental deterioration? Well those are all things to be concerned about to a degree, but might there be some advantages in imperfection, in mental errors, in being imperfect? Or, is the ultimate triumph of AI and machines (Terminator movies etc.) human-kind’s ultimate fate? Think about some ways in which imperfection in our mental processes might be a good thing and then read the article linked below to see a neuroscientists perspective on these questions.

Source: Cherish your imperfect brain, Henning Beck, Scatterbrain, Psychology Today.

Date: August 26, 2019


Article Links:

So, if brain function imperfection has actually been given evolutionary advantage then perhaps, we should consider what the advantages of such imperfections might be. Certainly, creativity and insights into possibilities that can arise while we are day-dreaming are not to be tossed out with the bathwater of mental “lapses.” I thin k the closing line of the article is worth serious reflection: “Maybe this is the core idea of what Konrad Zuse, the German inventor of the first programmable computer, meant when he said a couple of decades ago: “The danger that computers will become like humans is not as great as the danger that humans will become like computers.”

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things that happen to people (to you) that are likely to be attributed to brain malfunctions?
  2. What are some of the ways that the sorts of ‘malfunctions’ you noted above might actually be advatages?
  3. Is ‘creativity’ an optional cognitive add on to our general functioning is are there ways in which it is a core part of our ongoing adaptivity?

References (Read Further):

Beck, Henning (2019) Scatterbrain: How the Mind’s Mistakes Make Humans Creative, Innovative, and Successful, Greystone Books.

Mooneyham, B. W., & Schooler, J. W. (2013). The costs and benefits of mind-wandering: a review. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale, 67(1), 11.

Baird, B., Smallwood, J., Mrazek, M. D., Kam, J. W., Franklin, M. S., & Schooler, J. W. (2012). Inspired by distraction: Mind wandering facilitates creative incubation. Psychological science, 23(10), 1117-1122.

Lebuda, I., Zabelina, D. L., & Karwowski, M. (2016). Mind full of ideas: A meta-analysis of the mindfulness–creativity link. Personality and Individual Differences, 93, 22-26.