By Alex in Science & Tech on Oct 10, 2011 at 4:22 pm
Good news: your brain is hardwired for good news
Bad news: your brain is hardwired for good news
Why don’t people stop smoking even after hearing bazillion public service messages that doing so will give them cancer? Why do people get married even though the rate of divorce is 50%?
Neuroscientists have the answer: it’s because the human brain rejects negative thoughts (and yes, sometimes to the detriment of the brain’s host).
When the news was positive, all people had more activity in the brain’s frontal lobes, which are associated with processing errors. With negative information, the most optimistic people had the least activity in the frontal lobes, while the least optimistic had the most.
It suggests the brain is picking and choosing which evidence to listen to.
Dr Sharot said: “Smoking kills messages don’t work as people think their chances of cancer are low. The divorce rate is 50%, but people don’t think it’s the same for them. There is a very fundamental bias in the brain.”
Dr Chris Chambers, neuroscientist from the University of Cardiff, said: “It’s very cool, a very elegant piece of work and fascinating.
“For me, this work highlights something that is becoming increasingly apparent in neuroscience, that a major part of brain function in decision-making is the testing of predictions against reality – in essence all people are ‘scientists’.
“And despite how sophisticated these neural networks are, it is illuminating to see how the brain sometimes comes up with wrong and overly optimistic answers despite the evidence.”