Pushing The Boundaries of Your Mind

Whilst reading a book on perception titled ‘Deviate – The science of seeing differently’, written by a neurologist Beau Lotto, it has interested me how trial and error is really the basis of how your brain learns new information about it’s surroundings, and how your brain reacts to certain situations.

Our brain reacts the way it does due to our past experiences, and information of past experiences is detected by our 5 senses; sight, smell, touch, sound and taste. Therefore, the way we act in particular situations is judged by what information is detected by these senses. Our brain then processes this information and determines weather the outcome of that situation was either better than last time or worse. If the outcome was better than the last time we faced that decision, our brain will hardwire that response into our mind and use it again, when a similar situation arrises in the future. If it was worse, our brain will automatically discard that response, and we will most likely never use it again.

This is an evolutionary trait which applies to many types of species on earth, and makes for a sort of response database in our mind, and in turn reduces the amount of time required to think about a particular response when it is a necessity to react quickly. This would of been beneficial to our ancestors thousands of years ago, when faced with a predator in the wild.

The problem with this is, often we get stuck using the same response process when reacting to situations, as the brain would prefer to settle for a response which it knows has worked well previously, and usually doesn’t want to take the risk of potentially experiencing a bad outcome.

However this will limit the amount of responses our brain has to choose from, when in fact there might be a much better undiscovered response for that particular situation, just our brain has not yet discovered it. This is why the popular saying ‘step out of your comfort zone’ is vital for learning how to handle these situations more efficiently, and trail and error is a necessity when it comes to bettering yourself and your decisions. The more types of responses you make, and the more types of outcomes you experience, the more decisions your brain has to choose from. Given that your brain always chooses the best response, it is more likely that you will learn to react in a much better way and therefore, a better outcome will take place.

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If you imagine these dots as all the different possible responses for a particular situation, (forget the words, score and leaderboard, I know this is a screenshot from agar.io, it’s the best image i could find to get my point across, ironically) and imagine the bigger dots as the better reactions, with the USA dot being the best. If your brain only knows one of the small green dots as the best response, then it will continually use that response until something or someone causes you to react differently and find a better dot, like the hero dot.

As outlined before, if you use trial and error, and you continuously alter your responses to different stimuli, even if you land on green dots time and time again, it is certain that you will eventually land on the USA dot, the best and most beneficial response.

Therefore, this is why it is vital to keep pushing the boundaries of your mind, and not to fall into the habit of making the same decision repeatedly. This will ensure that one day, may it take 1 week or 1 year, you will find your USA dot.

 

Sources:

‘Deviate – The science of seeing differently’, Beau Lotto.

 

3 thoughts on “Pushing The Boundaries of Your Mind

  1. “Pushing the boundaries of your mind”, seems fitting for a life well-lived. In a relationship we all bring learned responses from past experience. It’s vital to create new positive ones and discard invalid negatives. Testing my mental limits keeps me healthy. Of course, too much stimuli and I cannot sleep at night!

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