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Journal ShakaUVM's Journal: Transcendence of the Menial


Seems to me that they solved some of the problem, but not the problem they were looking for. The F5 neurons in question appear to be the sort of task visualization center. As in, when you're operating a tool, from the remote crane on the space shuttle, to playing Super Mario Brothers, you imagine the task happening. If you're opening a ziploc bag, the opening task will be the same regardless of if you're using your hand, pliers, or reverse pliers (which close when they open and open when they close, according to the article) -- you imagine the ziploc bit getting prised apart. Apparently, since these neurons fire exactly the same way when they do their task, this is probably what they found.

The more important part, how the brain can sublimate operating complex machinery so that it doesn't require conscious thought to operate, isn't explained here. Shuttle operators are actually trained to treat the crane like an extension of their arm, video game players eventually move past the controls to directly control the player on the screen, experienced skiers just imagine themselves turning without consciously having to weight their skis or edge, etc. All of these tasks originally required a lot of conscious control and expenditure of brain power (and in the case of skiing, a lot of bruises). And as long as it stays at this level, it stays awkward and stilted. It is at the point in which you transcend the raw mechanics and are capable of controlling it at a higher level (which is what this study found), that the skier becomes graceful, the video game player can race through flaming rotating death traps in super mario brothers, and the space shuttle control can quickly and adroitly manipulate stuff.

The human brain really is a fascinating thing, and capable of really amazing feats, if you think about it.

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Transcendence of the Menial

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