Brain copies the thinking of others by observation


2020-07-09 20:40:13




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Brain copies the thinking of others by observation

it Turns out we copied the thoughts of others. But how?

The Character Hugh Laurie from the TV series «Dr. house» once said: «monkey see, monkey do». This is a very simplistic view of how we are sensitive to others. In infancy we are watching their parents and teachers, they help us learn to walk, to talk, to read, use the computer and the smartphone. There seems no limit to the complexity of the behavior that we can learn simply by observing the actions of others. But scientists believe that social impact is much deeper – we don't just copy the behavior of the people around us, we copy their thoughts. As we grow older we understand that we think, feel and what you want surrounding and adapt to it. But how the brain discerns the thoughts that's on your own mind and thoughts about other minds?

How we read thoughts

The Human brain is perfectly copies the complex thought processes of other people. A new study, which its authors in his article for The Conversation, bring us closer to answer the question of how the brain discerns our thoughts about our own mind and other minds.

As the scientists write in a paper published in the journal , our ability to copy other people's thoughts are extremely important. When this process goes wrong, it can serve as a trigger for the development of mental illness. This means that at some point you can stop to empathize with others, or Vice versa, will be so receptive to the thoughts of others, your perception of your «I» will change. The ability to think about the thinking processes of other people is one of the most difficult adaptations of the human brain. Some psychologists regard this capacity using a method called «challenge false beliefs».

while we are trying to create devices that read the minds of other people, our brains are themselves a kind of psychics.

Task false beliefs

Over the last ten years neuroscientists have studied the theory of mind reading – theory simulations, according to which, when you put yourself in the place of the other, your brain tries to copy the calculations inside his brain. But if your brain copies the computing brain of your friend, he has his own thoughts and mind from a simulation of thinking of others? It turned out, neuroscientists have found strong evidence that the brain indeed simulates computations of a social partner. Studies have shown that if you watch how the other person receives a reward, such as food or money, your brain activity is the same as he.

In the course of the study, the researchers tested the experiment, which was attended by 40 subjects. The authors asked them to play «possible version of false beliefs», while scanning their brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity. The game was the following: instead of just believe what a certain object is in the box, both players believe that there are two possibilities – either the object in the box or not (which basically makes it a thought experiment schrödinger's cat).

The Object is constantly moving, but because the beliefs of both players are constantly changing. Subjects had to try to track not only the location of the object, but also of convincing the partner about his whereabouts. By the way, did you know that the brain continues to work normally after the removal of one of the hemispheres? Details

One of the most common cognitive distortion is the error «after – so due to».

This design allowed the researchers to use mathematical model to describe what was happening in the minds of subjects when they played this game. The results showed that the participants changed their own beliefs every time I got some information about where the object is. The experiment also showed that subjects changed the imitation of the thinking of the partner each time a partner saw any information. The model works by calculating the «predictions» and «error of the prediction». For example, if the participant predicts that the object is in the box with a probability of 90%, but then sees that it is not near the box, I will be surprised. That's why in such cases, scientists believe that the person has experienced «error prediction». The results are then used to further improve the prognosis.


It Should be noted that many scientists today believe that prediction error is a fundamental unit of computation in the brain. Each prediction error associated with a specific pattern of brain activity. This means that we can compare patterns of brain activity when a subject is experiencing of the prediction error, with alternative patterns of activity that occur when a subject thinks about the prediction errors of the partner. The results of the study showed that the brain usesdifferent patterns of activity to prediction errors and «simulated» the prediction errors. a This means that the brain activity contains information not only about what is happening in the world, but who thinks about the world. This combination leads to a subjective sense of himself as a person.

Neuroplasticity is a property of the brain, which is the ability to change under the influence of experience, as well as to restore the lost connection after damage

How to train the brain?

It is Noteworthy that the authors also found that to teach people how to do these patterns of brain activity for themselves and others or more distinct or overlapping possible. In the experiment, the scientists this is what was done by manipulating the task so that the subject and the partner saw the same information either rarely or frequently. If information has become more distinct, subjects are better distinguished their own thoughts from the thoughts of the partner. If the patterns overlap each other, the subjects worse and worse distinguished their own thoughts from the thoughts of the partner.

This means that the boundary between «I» and «others» in the brain flexible and able to learn independently this boundary change. this is why two people who spend a lot of time together start to feel like one person, sharing with each other the same thoughts. If the boundaries between yourself and others is really so malleable, then perhaps we can use this ability for combat fanaticism and for the treatment of depression and other mental disorders.


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