Sunday, March 7, 2010

Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up

Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up is a Wired article by Jonah Lehrer.

A few highlights:

Although the researchers were mostly using established techniques, more than 50 percent of their data was unexpected... It wasn’t uncommon for someone to spend a month on a project and then just discard all their data because the data didn’t make sense.

According to Dunbar, even after scientists had generated their “error” multiple times — it was a consistent inconsistency — they might fail to follow it up. “Given the amount of unexpected data in science, it’s just not feasible to pursue everything,” Dunbar says. “People have to pick and choose what’s interesting and what’s not, but they often choose badly.” And so the result was tossed aside, filed in a quickly forgotten notebook. The scientists had discovered a new fact, but they called it a failure.

There was a squirt of blood to the anterior cingulate cortex, a collar of tissue located in the center of the brain. The ACC is typically associated with the perception of errors and contradictions — neuroscientists often refer to it as part of the “Oh shit!” circuit — so it makes sense that it would be turned on when we watch a video of something that seems wrong.

And so forth. Very interesting.

(From Clayton M. )

1 comment:

Michael Lockridge said...

Serendipity! I have been working for some time to find something like this that serves to reflect the myth of objectivity. It is a matter I have been contemplating for some time. Thanks for this excellent article.