Brain Computing Errors

Many of us may have come across the following situation. Let us consider the activity of peeling carrots. The peels are kept on one side and the carrot is in the hand. I need to throw the peels in the waste bin. Instead of peels, I put the carrot in. You can imagine this with bananas, exhausted ink cartridges in ballpoint pens, etc. Most of us would have done such things in our normal lives.

It is a case of having similar things in both hands – one is exhausted (peels, used cartridges) and the other is fresh (carrot, new ink cartridge); one needs to go to the waste bin and the other to some useful purpose. Sometimes, the opposite happens.

Why do we do such absurd activities?

In this article, I want to show some of the common computing errors by the brain in our daily lives. These errors occur in normal persons during normal times. There may be more types of errors. I am sharing those errors that I can personally observe. I am also not venturing into explanations from a psychological and neurological perspective.
When we observe some of our activities or in many cases, those of others, the activities may seem ridiculous, funny or sometimes absurd. If we observe closely the internal workings of the brain on those occasions, the rationale may be clearer. We may come to understand the logic of the way it happened. It may no longer be funny.

I list below a few types of errors that I have observed in my brain.
1) Duality of contradictory outputs for a single input

I am trying to cross a junction of 4 streets. We see a vehicle coming from a perpendicular street. I stopped my two-wheeler and gestured for him to cross first. My left hand is applying the brake. When I gesture, I observe that my right hand is trying to raise the accelerator. Luckily for my left hand on the brake, nothing happens. For an input (vehicle crossing the junction), there could be two possible outputs – first, to stop and let him go, and second, to cross first.
In the above case, the brain sends two opposite signals to the head (go ahead gesture) and to the right hand (keep going).
The brain takes two opposite decisions at the same time for a specific input.

2) Absent-mindedness or time-lapse inactivation

Absent-mindedness is treated as a memory loss that occurs frequently and the outcome is very often funny. Absent-mindedness is attributed to a lack of attentiveness because the brain is occupied with other processes. However, I am pointing to those types of absentmindedness in which one remembers the activity after a time-lapse, i.e., the process is activated in the brain a little later.

For instance, on the way home, I remind myself to buy medicines at the pharmacy. The brain reminds me about this after I cross the pharmacy about 100 meters away or when I reach home. The signal to stop at the pharmacy didn’t happen at that time, but a little later. It is possible to train the brain to be attentive to avert distractions. But there are situations when there is a time lapse in activation even when there are no strong distractions.

3) Mixed output as a result of ‘two same meaning but different forms of signals

People who switch between two languages in their lives may be aware of this type. For instance, I take a combination of Tamil and English. I have heard of situations when asked which day it was, the reply would be Budnesday (Budhan in Tamil + Wednesday in English). It is as if when an input was given, two outputs were activated and in the rush to the common output medium (mouth), it got mixed up and hence, the new word.
The meaning of the two outputs is the same but their contents are different. 
One can imagine situations of the above type in which mixed output occurs due to two choices (coffee or tea => cotea, etc.).

4) Completion of partial output

This type presents multiple scenarios: I want to go to the table to pick up a file or a file and a pen. The outputs are a) go to the table and come back, b) go to the table and pick any one of the items and c) go to the table and wonder why I came there. I keep two items – a bunch of keys and a file on the table. After some time, when I am moving away from the table, I pick a file and forget the keys. In these cases, the brain is presented with a series (sometimes, parallel) of activities. Some of them are executed while some are momentarily bypassed, even though the memory of the process is intact, which means the bypassed activity is reminded later.
With complex processes computed by the brain simultaneously and serially, there may be many types of errors, as perceived by an observer, but which are realistic and logical to the brain. For instance, there are errors such as slip of the tongue, and jumbled letters in a sequence of words (we can read the right word, but if the brain follows the normal algorithm, it would face difficulty in reading the new word from jumbled letters), linguistic errors, etc.
All these types of errors happen in a normal brain under normal conditions. Hence, studying them presents an opportunity to better understand the brain’s functioning.

Read More Related Articles

Exit mobile version