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Brain turns off the Self

Sometimes we "loose ourselves" in challenging tasks. Ego vanishes and we "get out of our own way" and perform a complex task with seeming ease and at a very high level of functioning. I just read a news story which frames this phenomenon as the brain turning self-awareness off in order to divert resources to a complex task.

“The regions of the brain involved in introspection and sensory perception are completely segregated, although well connected,” says Goldberg, “and when the brain needs to divert all its resources to carry out a difficult task, the self-related cortex is inhibited.”

The brain’s ability to “switch off” the self may have evolved as a protective mechanism, he suggests. “If there is a sudden danger, such as the appearance of a snake, it is not helpful to stand around wondering how one feels about the situation,” Goldberg points out.

link: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9019-watching-the-brain-switch-off-selfawareness.html

I like to think of the experience of flow as an instance of transending the ego and entering into an intuitively sensitive and hyper-competently spontaneous state. The article seems to paint that same process as a computer diverting processing power away from non-essential applications in favor of mission-critical processes.

Transcendence versus reallocation.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 25th, 2006 12:06 am (UTC)
Maybe it is *both* transcendence and reallocation, depending on the situation.

Apr. 25th, 2006 12:27 am (UTC)
Flow in an interesting experience for me. I experience it most commonly when playing video games, of all things. I play Quake competitively, and I find that once I have learned a map sufficiently that I know where everything is and what all the common paths are, I perform far better when I force myself to stop thinking and act purely on instinct. Eventually my consciousness will disengage to the point that I'm not even self-aware, let alone aware of what I am doing, and yet I will watch the demo later and be impressed at the depth and subtlety of the strategies I executed in-game-- very often they are things that I wouldn't have thought of doing, had I been thinking about it!

Interesting stuff.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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