Search-and-rescue mission (in the mind) | Smithsonian.com

Posted: April 23, 2013 in Cognition
Tags: , , ,

☞ Research on how the brain responds to missing objects in the immediate physical world may also have an impact on research on narrative. There are missing objects and missing information aplenty in narrative, especially in the earlier stages of our response to a narrative. How the brain responds to them may give us a clue on how we respond to narrative, and how narratives are usually structured, and in this connection, on the most effective way to present a narrative to its readers or audience.

❝You’ve lost your keys. Or cell phone. Or child. Your focus sharpens. Where is it?

For your brain, such search-and-rescue efforts go beyond run-of-the-mill problem solving. According to new research published in Nature Neuroscience, the areas of the brain normally dedicated to abstract thought pitch in to help out with the hunt for the missing object.

These searches involve a complex mix of both visual and non-visual regions of the brain, which optimizes on problem solving by directing all of its resources to finding the misplaced item, whether it be a child or a set of keys. “As you plan your day at work, for example, more of the brain is devoted to processing time, tasks, goals and rewards, and as you search for your cat, more of the brain becomes involved in recognition of animals,” the authors said in a statement.

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