The Neuroscience of Choice

24 March 2007 at 8:51 pm Leave a comment

The April 2007 issue of Scientific American has a “Skeptic” column (by Michael Shermer) titled “Free to Choose: The neuroscience of choice exposes the power of ideas.” The column reminds me of my concept of energonomics:

Life, like the economy, is about the allocation of limited resources that have alternative uses (to paraphrase economist Thomas Sowell). It all boils down to energy efficiency. To a predator, [Read] Montague [author of Why Choose This Book?] says, prey are batteries of energy: “This doctrine mandates that evolution discover efficient computational systems that know how to capture, process, store, and reuse energy efficiently.” Those that do so pass on their genetic programs for efficient computational neural processing to make efficient choices. As a result, our brains consume only about one-fifth the energy of a lightbulb.

He then continues with talk of how addictions take over the reward-system and also suggests that ideas do the same:

Ideas do something similar, in that they take over the role of reward signals that feed into the dopamine neurons. This effect includes *bad* ideas, such as the Heaven’s Gate cult members. . . The brains of suicide bombers have been similarly commandeered by bad ideas from their religions or politics.

Ths suggests that “meme management” is an energonomic practice: keeping tabs on the ideas/memes to which we give our brain-energy is an important part of overall personal energy management.


Entry filed under: memes, neuroscience.

Books as Dragon’s Teeth Sculpting Energy

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