Summary: Researchers have identified the part of the brain that plays a role in local realism and how we create our own versions of reality.
A source: UCLA
Why are we so sure that our views on people, situations, and politics are clear, and that other people’s views on them are foolish and wrong?
The answer, according to a new study by UCLA psychology professor Matthew Lieberman, lies in a part of the brain he calls the “Gestalt cortex,” which helps people understand incomprehensible or incomplete information and reject alternative interpretations.
The journal published a study based on an analysis of more than 400 previous studies Psychological examination.
People often mistaken their understanding of people and events as objective truths rather than their own interpretations. Called “naive realism,” it suggests that people should have the final say in the world around them.
“We have irrational beliefs in our own experience in the world and consider others to be wrong, lazy, irrational or one-sided, who cannot see the world as we see it,” Lieberman said.
“Evidence from neural data shows that the Gestalt cortex plays a key role in how we build our version of reality.”
Naive realism may be the only undervalued source of conflict and mistrust between individuals and groups, he said.
“When others see the world differently than we do, it can serve as an existential threat to our connection to reality and often leads to anger and suspicion in others,” Lieberman said. “If we know how people see the world, their subsequent reactions will be much more predictable.”
Although the question of how people understand the world has been a constant topic in social psychology, the basic mechanisms of the brain have never been fully explained, Lieberman said.
Mental acts that are coherent, inactive, and based on our experience occur in the Gestalt cortex. For example, a person may see someone smiling and feel happy without thinking about it.
Because these conclusions are immediate and effortless, they usually seem more like “seeing the truth” than “thinking” – even if that happiness is an inner psychological state, Lieberman said.
“We believe we’ve seen it all, which makes it difficult to assess or even consider other perspectives,” he said.
“The mind emphasizes its best answer and rejects competing decisions. The mind may initially design the world as a democracy, where every alternative interpretation has a voice, but it quickly turns into an authoritarian regime, ruling with an iron fist of interpretation and shattering conflicting opinions. In choosing one interpretation, the Gestalt cortex literally interferes with the other. ”
Lieberman’s previous research has shown that when people do not come face to face, for example on political issues, their activity in the Gestalt cortex is less similar than that of people who agree with each other.
(This conclusion was supported by a study conducted in 2018 in the journal Nature Communications. UCLA psychologist Carolyn Parkinson and others have found that similar neurons in the Gestalt cortex are strong predictors of who is friends with whom.)
The Gestalt was the school of German perceptual psychology, whose motto was “greater than the sum of whole parts.” This approach focuses on how the human mind combines the elements of the world into meaningful groups.
The Gestalt cortex is located behind the ear and is located between the parts of the brain responsible for processing vision, sound, and touch; those parts are connected to a structure called the temporoparietal junction that is part of the gestalt cortex.
In a new study, Lieberman suggests that the temporoparietal nodule is a central part of conscious experience and that it helps people organize and integrate the psychological features of the situations they see so they can easily understand them.
The Gestalt cortex is not just an area of the brain that allows people to quickly process and interpret what they see, but it is especially important.
Using neurosurgical records to understand the “social brain”
In a separate study published in April in the journal Nature CommunicationsLieberman and colleagues said that given our complex social world, we can socialize relatively easily.
Lieberman, Kevin Tan, a UCLA psychology graduate student, and colleagues at Stanford University used the first mass neurosurgical records of the “social brain” to show that humans have a special neural pathway for social thinking.
Lieberman, author of the best-selling book, Social: Why Our Brains Connect, said that humans are by nature unique in their ability to assess the social and mental state of others. This ability requires the brain to process a large number of conclusions from many idiosyncratic signals. So why does this process often seem so difficult compared to simple tasks like basic arithmetic?
Clear answers have become difficult for researchers in social neurology. One culprit may be the reliance of scientists on functional magnetic resonance imaging, which is effective in scanning brain activity, but it is ineffective in determining the duration of action.
Researchers have used a technique called electrocorticography to record brain activity on a millisecond and millimeter scale using thousands of neurosurgical electrodes. They found that the neurocognitive pathway, which extends from the back of the brain to the front, is active in areas near the front, especially when people think about the mental state of others.
Their findings show that temporoparietal fusion can create a quick, effortless understanding of other people’s mental states, but another area, the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, may be more involved in thinking things more slowly and carefully.
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Author: Stuart Wolpert
A source: UCLA
The connection: Stuart Wolpert – UCLA
Photo: Photo by Matthew Lieberman / UCLA Psychology
Original study: The study is available through pre-printing PsyArXiv Preprint