If our brains are so incredibly powerful why is it so limited?


for example, why do we forget things we just learnt, even when focussing on a single thing that we know how to do we still make many mistakes, the brain isn’t perfect but seems these things shouldn’t happen.

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A lot of humans’ brains’ power comes from the fact that we have an ego and THINK our brain is more powerful when in reality it is just structurally different and just as limited to the same genetic confines as all living creatures.

Our conscious attention makes errors because it is so complex. The brain is not supposed to function in a perfect manner that creates a perfect perception of reality and functions perfectly to its environment but instead the brain is to function just well enough to keep you alive and mating. Its job is to make a perception of reality just accurate enough to keep you alive but it must simplify reality because our brain is nowhere near powerful enough to be able to accurately perceive our reality yet alone how to attend to it perfectly so it does the best it can.

Disclosure: not a neuroscientist just an enthusiast. Please correct where I’m wrong.

The nervous system is running an incredible amount of processes at the same time, the vast majority of which you’re not aware of. Our awareness is a tiny sliver. What may seem like a mistake to you may be a statistically insignificant lapse considering all the computations going on.

Why the mistakes for shit you know how to do? Hard question. One reason may be that you’re not experiencing life in real time. Everything that happens takes a bit of time to get perceived, processed, and synthesized into meaningful information. If you waited for that entire process to happen before reacting, you’d be at a disadvantage. So the brain literally simulates reality, it forms expectations on past experiences and lessons, and it predicts what happens next. That’s why you can catch a ball, and why it takes time to learn how to catch a ball. Your brain predicts where the ball will be and you place your hand there in anticipation. If you had to actually analyze all of the information all the time, you wouldn’t be able to get anything done. My understanding is that the brain doesn’t have the compute power to do everything in real time, so it has to automate a bunch of things. When it does that, sometimes it makes mistakes, or sometimes reality throws a curve ball and the prediction was incorrect.

Lastly, forgetting is a feature, not a bug. Can you imagine never forgetting anything, ever? You would be inundated with memories you would have to triage. Ideally you remember shit that matters, the rest is a waste. Repetition shows that something is important and worth remembering.

Brains are powerful but they are also very energy demanding. A chess player can burn 600 calories for a 2 hour game, equivalent to a 2 mile run.

Basically what happens is that our brains learn to conserve energy and save stress. If you train your brain up to remember details, it will be better and more consistent with that part, but otherwise, unless some pathways are consistently used, they stay inefficient. It is

important to note that human brains, are incredibly powerful, we develop language, motor, spatial and social skills that are very advanced. But they are geared for survival, not for optimal function.

37 trillion cells, 100 billion connections in the brain, a body that’s never been the same once, second to second in its existence, systems between them all, coordinating the systems, detecting error because it’s not a system, adjusting, a changing world around you, learning, understanding, adapting… It’s a miracle we can do anything other than lay on our backs and breathe. I think its pretty stunning we can do what we do.

It’s also all pointed towards value added activity and using resources well so it only records novel experiences and keeps memories that will help later – usually ones connected to emotion so you do or don’t do things that have social impact or make you feel good or might cause harm.