Monday, July 13, 2009

Slower but more aware: deficits in gut instinct

For those of us with below-average right-brain instincts, there is a silver lining.

This was brought home to me, yet again, these past few weeks as I taught my "Autism, Language, and Reasoning" course and discussed Uta Frith's Autism: Explaining the Enigma, in which she discusses Mike Anderson's model of human intelligence.

Citing Frith:

In Anderson's model the cognitive system works like a small company with dedicated specialists and a responsible head office. When one of the specialists is ill, one of the company directors steps in but, having no special talent or training, will do the job less well.
The company director takes over, for example, if the public relations specialist is ill.

But who is this company director? I'm guessing it's our conscious selves, who must work out logically, via our basic information processing mechanisms, which social rules pertain in a given situation.

While these conscious selves do the job less well than the dedicated specialist, we get much better with practice, and also gain conscious access, in the process, to many intriguing rules of human behavior to which our more sociable counterparts, while slavishly following them, are completely oblivious.

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