Friday, April 15, 2011


Lately I've been thinking about the way our brain fills in the details in order to help us recognize things. Usually, this process works quite well. The eyes catch a glimpse of something, the brain registers the outline of it, fills in the middle part, and instantly tells you what the thing is.

Scientists believe that this function exists to help us process what we are seeing. Without it, just slightly changing the angle of the object would cause our brain to believe that we were looking at something completely new. So recognition, orientation of objects around us, and the filling in the blanks part all go hand in hand.

Occasionally, this gets short circuited. The brain fills in an object or a face and on second glance, the thing is not what we thought it was. Scientists have been studying which parts of the brain are responsible for this process. If you've experienced a misfire, and look again, the brain can reorganize, recognize the thing, and let you know. And the object is or isn't a circle. Or the person is or isn't your college roommate.

This process must exist in other functions of our brain. I wonder what happens when the brain is responsible emotional for recognition, what we commonly call the heart. When the heart "fills in" something intangible? How do we know we've had a misfire? How does our brain reorganize this type of misunderstanding?

Wouldn't it be nice if the heartbrain worked the same way? We could "look again" and within seconds understand that the thing is not what we thought it was.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes the brain fills in the blanks to help the heart recognize what it does not want to see…that is the “heartbrain” working at its best.

Allison Kruskamp said...

Social conditioning is responsible for my heart-brain's 95% misfire rate. reprogram. reprogram. reprogram.