The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

March 27, 2014

Why our brains just cannot let this mystery go

(Continued)

The study of illusions gives us a glimpse at the trickery our brain uses to create, below our conscious awareness, our continuous sense of the world. Our brain is a kind of detective for our conscious mind.

But it's the specific nature of the disappearance of Flight 370 that pings some of our most basic cognitive drives. In their book "The Scientist in the Crib," Alison Gopnik, Andrew Meltzoff, and Patricia Kuhl write, "Babies become interested in, almost obsessed with, hiding-and-finding games when they are about a year old. There is the timeless appeal of peekaboo. … Babies also spontaneously undertake solo investigations of the mysterious Case of the Disappearing Object."

So, from our earliest days, we focus our attention on objects that are hidden, and then revealed. This consuming play, they write, "contributes to babies' ability to solve the big, deep problems of disappearance, causality, and categorization." No wonder we're watching CNN's nonstop coverage of a disappearing object.

We may be especially sensitive to seeing what's hidden because for our ancestors discovering food and evading threat were crucial to survival. Ramachandran writes that our visual system "evolved to detect predators behind foliage." Discovering hidden things is so central to our evolutionary survival that when we do so, "we get an internal 'Aha!' sensation." This "zap of pleasure" comes about, he explains, because our visual centers are wired to our limbic reward system. Without the reward, he says, we'd give up too easily on difficult problems. This makes it easier to understand why all over the world people have an irresistible urge to scour satellite images of vast oceans, seeking the kick of being the one to point and say, "There it is!"

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Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • taylor.armerding.jpg Impeachment arms Democrats, doesn't end the Obama disaster

    Republicans may have grounds to impeach President Barack Obama but they would be daft to pursue a case they cannot win in a Senate controlled by Democrats. Impeachment would only drive the Democrats' fundraising and potentially squander the GOP's best opportunity in years to capture both houses of Congress then, in two years, the White House.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Wrangling over pay for teachers

    RALEIGH – When the N.C. General Assembly reconvened in mid-May, there was talk of a short, efficient session.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    August 1, 2014

  • Patrick Gannon Two sides in debate about film incentives

    RALEIGH – It’s looking like the current film incentives program may be scrapped for a much different grant program for TV and movie production companies.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • D.G. Martin Read others’ views to be better informed, decide for yourself

    “I don’t read The Washington Post. That is not where I get my ideas.”

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon This isn’t medical marijuana

    As state legislators debated allowing the use of an extract from marijuana plants to treat seizure disorders over the past couple of weeks, it was evident that social conservatives – there are many of them in the General Assembly – felt a tinge of unease about it, even as almost every one of them voted yes.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Friends and contentment

    Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thanks for the honest deed

    I would like to thank the person that found my wallet in the parking lot of Harris Teeter on July 23 and turned it in to the Albemarle Police.

    July 29, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

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