Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Experimentation and inconsistency are hard-wired into our brains...

I've always wondered why I do things slightly differently each time I do them. (It took me twenty years of long, annoying searches to realize it's actually best to put the keys in the same place every day!)

I'd thought maybe it's because I'm never sure I've already come up with the BEST way - maybe some other way would be better.

Extracts from
Brain Wired for Improv, Not Perfection
Study Shows Each Movement Planned From Scratch

By Jennifer Warner for WebMD Medical News

Dec. 20, 2006 -- The brain is wired for inconsistency ... according to new brain-based research that suggests the reason humans have a hard time doing the same task exactly the same way is that the brain starts planning each movement from scratch.

"The main reason you can't move the same way each and every time, such as swinging a golf club, is that your brain can't plan the swing the same way each time," says researcher Krishna Shenoy ... at Stanford University.

The researchers say inconsistencies in how the brain plans for each movement may have an evolutionary reason.

"The nervous system was not designed to do the same thing over and over again," says researcher Mark Churchland ... in the release.

"The nervous system was designed to be flexible," Churchland says. "You typically find yourself doing things you've never done before."

Of course practice can reduce the variation in the mind's and body's ability.

But, researchers say, it can't change the variable way the mind plans motion.

SOURCE: Churchland, M. Neuron, Dec. 21, 2006; vol 52: pp 1085–1096. News release, Stanford University.

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At 11:46 AM, Blogger melina said...

Hmm. Okay, I get that. If I one day drop my keys down the stair shaft and they fall out the window, i will definitely never do that again. that's good evolution. but why oh why - when I put my keys on my bedside table and i FIND THEM RIGHT AWAY when I wake up in the morning - does my brain decide that's not good enough?

At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This must be why I never teach a class exactly as I taught it the semester before. I always make slight changes-[add things and subtract others-]-even though the syllabus might be unchanged. I thought it was just abecause the students were different or I wasn't organized, I's my brain. ~~~Susanlynn


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