Through the brain filter

Warm days - とても暖かい日です。上着邪魔だな。

Image by sakurapenguin via Flickr

Brains! What a cool pice of equipment. I’m fascinated by how we take in a mind-blowing amount of sensory information in any given second, but our brains filter out the extraneous pieces of information to only focus our awareness on the things that are vital to our survival. Our filters are shaped by our past experiences and knowledge. We form an image of a conceptual world in our heads about the way the world is. All new information is compared to this image of reality before it enters our conscious mind.

This explains how we can search the entire house for the sunglasses on our head. Our mental image held the sunglasses as existing somewhere out there, so our brains obediently filter out the sensation of the sunglasses pressing on our heads. We can completely miss information that is right out in front of us because we have so well-trained our brains that we ‘know’ what is happening. Any conflicting information is censored from our awareness.

Optical illusions are another interesting test of how our brains shape our reality. Often, these illusions show us how our brains fill in the missing information in the pictures to give us an image that makes sense.

With all this pre-processing of the data stream of life before it enters our conscious minds, we can see that there is much more going on in our world than we can truly grasp. Just sitting in your room right now, think of all the information that you might be missing. Our subconscious mind, however, saves the day as the information we receive is not lost completely. Much of that data gets stored in our subconscious as a mental insurance policy.  This is how when we calm ourselves for only a moment, we can suddenly quickly find our sunglasses right where we left them.

When you think about the amount of things going on inside your head just to perform a simple task, why on earth would you ever take anyone else’s advice too seriously. Not that we can’t learn a ton from other people, but we should always understand that advice can only be given based on the filter of the other person’s perspective. More often than not, they tell you what is true for them (or at least what is consistent with there current mental image of the world). Their advise might be good for you, or it might not even be close. Only you can decide.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. evilnymphstuff
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 21:06:54

    Wow that’s an incredible post! 🙂 the brain is merely a grey sort of organic matter in our skull and yet it can do so much! I’d say it’s an awesome gift!


  2. Trackback: IF I Only Had a Brain With a Favorites Button « Firepitboss

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