eli5 do our mind analyzes every thought ( 5 senses and all) for survival threat, How it decides the threshold


eli5 do our mind analyzes every thought ( 5 senses and all) for survival threat, How it decides the threshold

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There are many circuits in your brain that operate without your conscious awareness. There’s a circuit that looks for faces, another that listens for words, many that are on the lookout for danger, etc. Most of the time, these circuits are doing their jobs quietly and don’t need your conscious mind to check in.

Sometimes, there’s a new thing that circuit can’t handle, like your roommate has a new pet cat and you’re kinda scared of cats. For a little while, every time you come home, you analyze the sights, sounds, and smells of the cat, but pretty soon, you come home and just go about your day without thinking of the cat. Your sound, sight, and living-thing-detector circuit can handle processing the cat without conscious effort. Until it starts wheezing and coughing up a hairball one day. Your sound circuit doesn’t know what to do with that (could the cat be dying, or preparing to kill you) so it brings it up to your conscious mind. Your conscious brain can involve other circuits, like the memories you have of a cartoon you watched where a cat coughed up hairballs, or maybe it does some risk analysis and decides to call your roommate for help.

Basically, your brain has a bunch of parts that are good at doing 1 thing. Most of the time, those parts are used to what they’re doing and keep doing it by themselves. But if they encounter something new and unexpected, they need your attention to analyze it. Your conscious mind can involve other specialized parts of the brain to analyze the new information and figure out what to do.

There’s a neat Veritasium video on YouTube about Gun and Drew called “the science of thinking” which talks about this. In the video, Gun represents all these little automatic circuits going about their work, and Drew is your conscious attentive mind.

As far as how your brain decides what to focus on, physical safety threats are given highest priority, then other survival issues, like food, water, shelter, and temperature. Look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to see how most brains prioritize their attention.