How Can the Human Brain Predict the Future?

The human brain has two internal clocks that predict the immediate future.

That’s according to new research from the University of California, which suggests our neural wiring predicts the forthcoming milliseconds. But our brains are constantly trying to predict the future, not in the sense of what will happen within a few years from now, but only for a few parts of milliseconds.

One of the ‘clocks’ relies on past experiences, while the other is dependent on rhythm – but both are crucial to how we navigate the world.

These inbuilt clocks allow humans, for instance, to know when to press the accelerator pedal in a car momentarily before the light goes green and the cognitive timekeeping feature also allows us to know when exactly to start singing the next line of a song simply because we did this many times before. The internal timepieces were discovered after experts studied the accuracy of anticipatory timing amid people with Parkinson’s disease.

According to the research the neural nets that support the two clocks are divided into two different parts in the brain according to the requested role. Our study suggests that timing is not a unified process, but that there are two distinct ways in which we make temporal predictions and these depend on different parts of the brain,’ said the study’s lead author Assaf Breska.

The research offers a new perspective on how humans calculate when to make a move through studying the anticipatory timing strengths and deficits of people with Parkinson’s disease and people with cerebellar degeneration. ‘These brain systems allow us to not just exist in the moment, but to also actively anticipate the future,’ said senior author Richard Ivry, professor of psychology and neuroscience, University of California, Berkley. Moreover, their results suggest that if one of these neural clocks is misfiring, the other could theoretically step in.

Source: Daily Mail



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