Why The Brain Craves Information & Seeks It Through The Senses

Introduction (via Irving Biederman & Edward Vessel)

As you picked up this magazine and leafed thorugh it just now your eye likely was drawn to certain images, words or phrases. Did you merely glance at a series of unrelated pictures as you turned the pages – or did you stop to examine one closely and read its caption? If so, what compelled you to want more? why is it that you find the experience of looking at some illustrations or texts more engaging or rewarding than others?

If you’re beginning to suspect that this article is nothing but a marketing survey, relax! These questions are in fact matters of serious interest for neuroscientists studying cognition and perception. All o fus have felt the pleasure of acquiring information a view of a dramatic landscape, a conversations with a friend or even a good magazine article, can all be profoundly gratifying. But why is this so? What makes these experiences so pleasurable.

We believe that the enjoyment of such experiences is deeply connected to an innate hunger for information: Human beings are designed to be “infovores”. It’s a craving that begins with a simple preference for certain types of stimuli, then proceeds to more sophisticated levels of perception and cognition that draw on associations that the brain makes with previous experiences. When the hunger becomes even moderately starved, boredom ets in. Consider for example, the last time you enjoyed staring at a blank wall or listening to a repetitive airport security announcement.

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26. February 2010 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Psychology & Sociology | Leave a comment

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