Thursday, July 24, 2008

My brain knows much more than I do.

Clearly. At the moment I am photographing Columbia's Psychology Library, working on a proposal for the University of Florida's new Biomedical Sciences building (squeak squeak!), re-reading the vision chapter in A Natural History of the Senses, and yesterday stumbled upon a brilliant article in The New Yorker about insight and the brain by Jonah Lehrer that you want to read. Unfortunately it is not available online, so you'll have to pick up the July 28 issue if you want to read it... Below is an excerpt to wet your appetite. 

"The most mysterious aspect of insight is not revelation itself but what happens next. The brain is an infinite library of associations, a cacophony of competing ideas, and yet, as soon as the right association appears, we know. The new thought, represented by that rush of gamma rays in the right hemisphere, immediately grabs our attention. There is something paradoxical and bizarre about this. On one hand, an epiphany is a surprising event; we are startled by what we've just discovered. Some part of our brain, however, clearly isn't surprised at all , which is why we are able to instantly recognize the insight. 'As soon as the insight happens, it just seems so obvious,' Schooler said. 'People can't believe they didn't see it before.' "