CULTURE NEWS Opinion

Lisa Feldman Barrett on the counterintuitive ways your mind processes reality

“Every single thing that you do, and every single thing that you feel and think—basically everything you experience—is some combination of what’s going on inside your brain and what’s going on outside your skull. Your brain doesn’t know for sure what’s going on in your body. It’s only receiving sense data. That sense data is the effect of some set of causes that are going on in your body. But your brain doesn’t know what the causes are. It has to guess. Similarly, your brain doesn’t know what’s going on in the outside world. All it’s getting are wavelengths of light, changes in air pressure, concentrations of chemicals, and so on. Again, those are the effects of some set of causes. This is what philosophers call a reverse inference problem. So what is your brain using to solve the reverse inference problem, to guess at the causes of the sense data that will arrive in a moment from now? Past experiences.

As your brain attempts to solve the reverse inference problem, it is not asking itself, figuratively speaking “What is this?” Instead, it is asking something more akin to “What is this like?” “What is this similar to in my past experience?” Your brain is making guesses about what is going to happen next, so it knows how to act next to keep you alive and well. It’s continuously drawing on your past experiences to create your present. The really cool thing about this? It’s really hard for people to change their past. However, by changing your present, you are cultivating a different future. By changing what you do and say, and feel, you are seeding your brain to predict differently in the future.”

Read more here : https://www.gq.com/story/lisa-feldman-barrett-interview?

Image by Matthew F. Glasser, David C. Van Essen

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