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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience

The Big Idea for Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In today's lesson, David Linden, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, peers into the hardware that man has been given, and finds the most primitive operating system:

We have two visual systems in our brain, a subconscious one and a conscious one. We have two auditory systems in our brain, a subconscious one and a conscious one. No engineer ever would have designed it like this. 

That is why we should avoid falling into the trap of believing that just because something evolved means that it is useful to us today. Our brains are impressive, Linden says. But the engineering behind the brain "is completely insane."



  1. 1 No Engineer Would Have Designed the Human Brain the Way It Is
    Big Think Editors Big Think TV
  2. 2 Daniel Dennett Explores the Problems of the Human Brain
    Daniel Dennett
  3. 3 Why Your Brain Is Slow (And Fast, Too)
    Carl Zimmer
  4. 4 Our Brain Didn't Need to Evolve, So Why Did It?
    Orion Jones IdeaFeed

Evolutionary Cognitive Neur...

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