Niagara Gazette

Web Extra

March 31, 2014

Why our brains just cannot let this mystery go

(Continued)

Another cognitive drive engaged in the fascination with Flight 370 is our need to tell stories. "Fabrication of stories is one of the key businesses in which our brains engage," Eagleman writes. "The brain's storytelling powers kick into gear only when things are conflicting or difficult to understand." This New York Times profile of Michael Gazzaniga, one of the founders of cognitive neuroscience, explains his pathbreaking experiments on split-brain patients — people who'd had the band of neural tissue connecting the two halves of the brain severed for medical reasons. The people seemed perfectly normal, but Gazzaniga and his colleagues discovered that the left side of the brain was the linguist and interpreter of events, the right side visual but silent. So when pictures were flashed to the right side of the brain only, patients, having to rely on the chatty left side to explain what had been seen, would tell fanciful tales. Gazzaniga showed that our brain prefers a nonsensical explanation of events to none at all. This, perhaps, explains Don Lemon's infamous exploration on CNN of the supernatural theories for the plane's disappearance that some viewers were proposing.

Ramachandran writes that before the advent of modern imaging technology, with no way to peer into the brain, it was likened to a "black box." Technology has not solved the endlessly intriguing mystery of what exactly goes on inside our skulls. But let's hope our hard-wired need to unlock secrets will allow us to answer the questions of where the black box from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is, and what happened to the 239 people aboard.

----

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Web Extra
Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page