Does Your Brain Know You Better than You Know Yourself?

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jpgIn BBC's video, The Secret You, Oxford mathematician Marcus de Sautoy went through an fMRI scan while being asked questions that would either make him press the button in his left hand or in his right hand. Shockingly, his brain decided which button he would press six seconds before Marcus was consciously aware of which one he would choose. Even more surprising, and in some sense, disturbing, is that John, the man administrating the fMRI, was aware of Marcus' decision before Marcus was aware of it. By looking at images of Marcus' brain during the scan, John could see if Marcus was going to choose the right or left button.
This information raised these hair prickling questions: who is in charge of your decisions? Is it your brain? Your conscious self? And most importantly, is there a difference? frmi.jpg
Clearly, there is a difference between your brain and your conscious self. This was proven when the brain made its decision six seconds before Marcus was aware of it. But does this mean that Marcus doesn't make any of his decisions, and that his brain decides things on its own accord? No, I do not believe this. After the fMRI was completed, John explained that the brain takes into consideration what your conscious self desires and acts upon that as well.
However, I can't help but to be somewhat spooked by this data. Although my brain takes into consideration by conscious thoughts, it ultimately has the power to make my decisions. In that sense, does that mean that my brain is a separate entity? That my brain is not really "me"? Which makes me think, how much control over my life do I really have? Where is the line between my conscious thought and my brain activity? These are all questions that have risen after watching this movie that will remain around, and most likely unanswered, for long after I'm around to hear them explained.


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This is an interesting topic! The ending paragraph leave some questions, which can become a kind of discussion with the readers. Besides, before reading this blog, I did not know that our brains make decision 6 seconds earlier than our consciousness. With the illustrative pictures, the blog can easily explain which part of our brain process the information. All in all, this is a good job!

I think the number 6 seconds seems a little bit exagerated, and may only apply to the task that this guy was asked to perform. For instance, if my roommate asks me to hand him a pencil, and I hand him a pencil one second later, it's not like my brain was processing this six seconds earlier, or five seconds before my friend told me to hand him the pencil. None-the-less, this is very interesting material that does suggest our brain and consciousness operate on different intervals.

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This page contains a single entry by malyx017 published on February 19, 2012 2:42 PM.

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When do we first "get familiar" with ourselves?! is the next entry in this blog.

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