Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Frontal Lobe Activation Patterns in Pessimistic & Optimistic Brains, and in Infant Brain Before and After Understanding of Object Permanence

Quotations from

"Brain 'rejects negative thoughts'"


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.

Interpretation of mine: frontal lobe is supposed to be the highest level of processing, which includes the top of the iceberg of conscious data (reflectively accessible), which allows to see that it's about "errors". Lower levels are also about "errors". However if the errors (mispredictions) are too high at lower level (perceived differs expected), this perceptions may not elevate up, they're "meaningless" at conscious level.


- The most optimistic subjects expect positive data, therefore negative data is misprediction/mistake and it's cut before reaching highest levels.

- The least optimistic ones expect negative data, and such evidence is a match to prediction, so the evidence is processed at the highest level.
I suspect this may imply that the reason for data to be cut is prior to the frontal lobes. It demands expected outcomes, but it's developed to want them from the machinery before it.

This research reminds me Natalie Portman's famous paper (sure, famous for her fans): http://mindhacks.com/2007/06/18/natalie-portman-cognitive-neuroscientist/

More formally:

Frontal Lobe Activation during Object Permanence: Data from Near-Infrared Spectroscopy

- Infants who understand object permanence (searching a toy which is covered under a cloth in front of their sight) are measured to have increased activity in their frontal lobe after the toy is covered, while the ones who don't understand the object is still there (and don't search for it) display a decrease in frontal-lobe activity.

This is a crude measure, but I guess:
The highest levels are expecting that the object should be under the cloth, so they are working actively - sending feedback down to the lower ones to find out where the object is and to adjust input so that they get confirmation of that higher level hypothesis.The frontal lobe of infants prior the understanding is less activated, perhaps because it doesn't have predictions to compare with lower level. Lower level processing dominates and the patterns in frontal lobe are too noisy or lacking.

Suggested reading about what I mean with those "levels":
http://knol.google.com/k/cognitive-focus-generalist-vs-specialist-bias
http://knol.google.com/k/boris-kazachenko/executive-attention/27zxw65mxxlt7/11#
http://knol.google.com/k/intelligence-as-a-cognitive-algorithm
http://research.twenkid.com/agi_english/


"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'."

Good morning, you finally noticed...

To be continued... --> On Rationalization and Confusions Caused by High Level Generalizations and the Feedforward-Feedback Imbalance in Brain and Generalization Hierarchies

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