The Science of Mental Fitness

Posted by M ws On Saturday, April 20, 2013 0 comments
The following excerpt is from an article written by Toronto, Canada. She collects postcards, fridge magnets, lapel pins, interesting rocks, and linguistics degrees.


It’s a testament to the strength and versatility of the human brain that anyone with at least half of one tends to assume that their senses give them direct access to objective reality. The truth is less straightforward and much more likely to induce existential crises: the senses do not actually provide the brain with a multifaceted description of the outside world. All that the brain has to work with are imperfect incoming electrical impulses announcing that things are happening. It is then the job of neurons to rapidly interpret these signals as well as they can, and suggest how to react.
This neurological system has done a pretty good job of modelling the world such that the ancestors of modern human beings avoided getting eaten by sabre-toothed tigers before procreating, but the human brain remains relatively easy to fool. Optical illusions, dreams, hallucinations, altered states of consciousness, and the placebo effect are just a handful of familiar cases where what the brain perceives does not correspond to whatever is actually occurring. The formation of a coherent model of the world often relies on imagined components. As it turns out, this pseudo-reality in one’s imagination can be so convincing that it can have unexpected effects on the physical body.

Back in the 1980s, the future of computing--and pretty much everything else--was thought to lie in virtual reality. Although few modern homes actually contain immersive, multi-sensory 3D virtual reality machines, some devices along these lines can be found in medical facilities. Virtual reality therapy (VRT) has often targeted neuropsychological conditions such as phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder; however, since everything we experience has a lot to do with the brain, the range of the potential applications of VRT is much wider than this.

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