Primitive Brain – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
– How can we educate our brain more effectively?
– Can we learn faster and play chess better using full potential of our triune brain?
Conscious versus subconscious
Despite the remarkable dominance of the logical brain, humans are still driven by the functions of the primitive brain. We are not the rational creatures that we like to think we are.
As we saw last time, humans have developed more brain hardware on top of the primitive reptilian brain engine: emotional and rational parts, to become more evolutionary successful.
Usually, we emphasize things that are conscious and inarticulate about “primitive” processes down below. But many times the primitive, our “power” brain really, prevails. For example, the rational part of the brain might want a fuel-efficient car, but the our unconscious part of the brain wants a car that makes the neighbors envious (that seems the very basic feature of human existence – our character as social animals forever competing for relative advantage, or in other words, our hard-wired compulsion to triumph).
If the basic reptilian brain gets checked, it gets frustrated. And it happens as soon as we get up in the morning. It gets frustrated.
Now a growing body of evidence from neuroscience, psychology and physiology brings us new insights and more accurate view of who we really are. The primitive and logical appear to be deeply intertwined. And the primitive structures deep within may have a far greater role in our high-level everyday thinking, learning, decision making and behavior than previously believed.
But how much goes on behind the locked door of our unconscious?
To find out, new technological advances let us see how neural areas light up on scans of the brain as it springs into action. What interests us in particular, they studied how brain of a chess expert worked when solving chess problems. Two areas of the brain were activated. One was in the region where perception of board patterns and high-level thinking occur. That was something we could have expected.
But quite surprisingly, the other area, excited during the generation of the next move, was part of the primitive brain responsible for the formation and execution of habit and goal directed behavior. In other words, idea generation in that area was quick and implicit, as opposed to conscious. Adaptive unconscious is capable of making very quick judgments based on very little information. The mind operates most efficiently by relegating a good deal of high-level, sophisticated thinking to the unconscious.
True experts have something at least as valuable as a mastery of the rules: gut instinct, an instantaneous grasp of the problem they are up against. Like the ballplayer who can “read” pitches early. Like a basketball player who is said to have “court sense” and who can take in and comprehend all that is happening around him. Like brilliant generals who possess coup d’oeil, “power of the glance”, an ability to immediately see and make sense of the battlefield (this is exactly kind of insight we want to develop in chess by forming a great eye, a superb board vision).
Experts develop such sensitive perceptual radar the old-fashioned way, through years of study and practice. Now the question is: can we come up with a certain kind of training, visual, fast-paced, that can build intuition quickly and speed up chess learning process?
We can. It is, so called, the contacts method, which uses the old brain technology. It takes up a bottom-up approach to teaching our pattern-recognition machine, that is brain, quickly deepening one’s grasp of chess basics.
Our unconscious reactions come out of a locked room, and we cannot look inside that room. But our perception, expert decision making and snap judgments can be educated and controlled. With proper practice, adequate training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our effectiveness to become more successful. Once you have mastered the basic concepts and rules solidly, you step beyond the boundaries of the elementary, entering the realm of beautiful and creative in chess.
Let chess epidemic begin!