September 24, 2013

Brain may rely on computer-like mechanism to make sense of novel situations, says CU-Boulder study

Our brains give us the remarkable ability to make sense of situations we’ve never encountered before—a familiar person in an unfamiliar place, for example, or a coworker in a different job role—but the mechanism our brains use to accomplish this has been a longstanding mystery of neuroscience.

Now, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have demonstrated that our brains could process these new situations by relying on a method similar to the “pointer” system used by computers. “Pointers” are used to tell a computer where to look for information stored elsewhere in the system to replace a variable.