- Zombies were found in graveyards, but
they may lurk even nearer home
- The idea that your brain sometimes plays
tricks on you might not be far wrong.
- Scientists believe our minds might be
subject to the power of Zombies, a metaphor for the unconscious self which
often sees the world in a very different way from the conscious self.
- According to the New Scientist, psychologists
and neuroscientists are increasingly using the Zombie metaphor to explain
our sometimes divided perception of the world.
- They say reflex reactions and emotions
are the more obvious signs of our split selves, but it is in the field
of visual perception that the Zombie comes into its own.
- Experiments using optical illusion show
that people's unconscious can often detect the illusion although their
- Mel Goodale, a psychologist from Ohio,
conducted experiments using poker chips.
- He found that, despite attempts to fool
the eye about the size of the chips, people still anticipated the real
size when they reached out to touch the objects.
- Scientists say conscious perception is
often slow as it tends to edit and interpret raw data, in contrast to the
- The Zombie phenomenon could also explain
'blindsight' which allows blind people to accomplish tasks that should
- One man who had part of his sight destroyed
after an accident could still perceive wavelengths, shapes and movements.
- This suggests visual skills do not all
- Another force
- Research on people who have suffered
strokes, tumours or accidents which knock out a part of the conscious brain
also shows that there may be another force at work.
- For example, some patients lose the ability
to recognise faces, but their brain can still show the physical signs of
emotion if they are shown photos of their loved ones.
- Other research may also offer a scientific
explanation for intuition.
- Jonathan Schooler, of the University
of Pittsburgh Learning and Research Development Center, believes the conscious
mind may actually impede lateral or intuitive thinking.
- This could be because the conscious mind
works at the front of the brain and may close down activity elsewhere whilst
lateral thinking works in a more ripple-like way across the brain.
- Different modes of functioning
- Investigations are also continuing into
whether the brain is capable of learning things unconsciously.
- Although the thinking on Zombies seems
to conjure up 1970s visions of the battle between the left and right side
of the brain, scientists say they no longer believe the unconscious is
situated in any particular part of the brain.
- Guy Claxton of the University of Bristol
tells the New Scientist: "It's not as if intuition happens in one
place and logical thought happens somewhere else.
- "It's that intuition and logical
thought are different modes of functioning of the brain as a whole."