Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Wed Oct 31 2001 - 13:56:25 GMT

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    From: Chris Taylor <>
    Organization: University of Manchester
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    My girlfriend once got a massively higher score than she has managed
    before or since on a pinball game, because she was totally distracted by
    a complete idiot on a radio phone in we had on. I think to some extent
    our subconscious is much better at most stuff (except the planning
    stuff) so generally if our upstart (and IMO evolutionarily late
    developing) conscious gets out from under, suddenly we become better at
    (sometimes not so) simple tasks. I've driven for miles before I realise
    I don't remember a damn thing about it...

    I think we could get by pretty well without the conscious 'us' (although
    only for the born-eat-shag-die + simple tool use level of stuff).
    Consciousness as we understand it I reckon came to us very late on, for
    big planning (future / complex social), and frankly does as much harm as
    good. That Irish navi that had parts of his frontal lobes ( ~ where we
    are) destroyed is perhaps an example of how we'd be without our 'higher'
    functions. The fitness advantage for consciousness is not clear cut
    either - curiosity doesn't just kill cats, but also hanglider pilots,
    bungee jumpers and have-a-go DIY fanatics.

    The lower-wattage brain of our near relatives provides a less rich
    environment for memes (simpler, and slower spreading). What we need to
    address (and I think Susan Blackmore, and definitely my old supervisor
    Paul Higgs are looking at this), is to what extent 'we' developed as
    meme spreading machines, serving noone's purpose but theirs (and getting
    a fitness benefit, on balance, for us the hosts).

    > Anecdotal also; but I remember having huge difficulty understanding Jacques
    > Lacan's Ecrits until I started reading a chapter casually whilst knitting
    > baby clothes; patterns of meaning just seemed to fall into place because the
    > front of my mind was occupied. I believe (but with no specialist knowledge)
    > that this appears in Zen beliefs.

    Just shows how close to 'our' abilities our subconscious can get. Nice
    example, because it's the reverse of mine (simple distraction from
    complex task - mine is vice versa).

     Chris Taylor ( »people»chris

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