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Why does our brain have a hard time learning from its mistakes?

Why does our brain have a hard time learning from its mistakes?

Learn from mistakes? Easy to say, but the fact is that the human brain seems highly oriented towards neglect and repeating mistakes. There is nothing easier than continuing to make bad decisions without worrying about it at all.

Perhaps the brain learns quickly and well that it is not appropriate to get too close to the fire. But as far as behavioral choices are concerned, one must face numerous "prejudices", the tendency to distort the perception of situations and, consequently, the rationality of decisions.

And the more complex the situation in which we find ourselves involved, the more the brain is forced to seek a simplification, a process defined as heuristics. An approach that very easily leads to error. For example, experimental studies have shown that in a fraction of a second we tend to categorize people by ethnicity or gender, paving the way for the immediate spread of prejudice, even before a person has time to start a conversation with us. .

This phenomenon made sense in terms of self-defense from an evolutionary point of view, when it helped to quickly recognize members of other tribes. But today it is a source of inevitable errors in assessment.

The process is supported by the amygdala, the small structure in the brain, the real fear control unit, which can only be partially controlled by the cerebral prefrontal cortex, where critical and judgment skills reside. This cognitive phenomenon is explored in neuroscientist Pragia Agarwal's recent book, Uncovering Unconscious Biases.

The book makes clear the existence of another mental bias from which it is almost impossible to escape: confirmation bias, that is, the tendency to believe what we are convinced of, and to oppose news and information that contradicts it. with what we already believe we know.

This phenomenon tries to direct us to the sources of information we already know, and to become suspicious of those who present different points of view. However, the latest study published in the journal "Neuron" has shown that the brain does everything it can to control the situation, in an effort to curb natural biases.

New research points to the existence of specific neurons whose job it would be to monitor potential errors. They are found in the prefrontal cortex and interfere with cognitive functions, which help initiate new behavioral choices.

"The results of our study suggest that this coordinated neural activity can serve as a filter for information analysis and allows the initiation of a systematic monitoring of performance, capable of communicating the need for behavioral control to other brain regions, including those that maintain the flexibility of information, such as the lateral and polar prefrontal cortex"- say the authors of the study led by Zhongzheng Fu of the Department of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the California Institute of Technology.

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