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Humans: the Most Experience-dependent Species on the Planet

Stefanie Faye Frank | 10:10


 Humans are the most experienced, dependent species that has ever existed on the planet. Our brain depends on its experiences to build. Genes lay a blueprint, but they actually only contain a microscopic amount of information compared with the trillions of connections and bits of information that actually go into building and shaping the human brain.

Let me give you an example. Close your left eye and take your left index finger and hold it right in front of your nose. Keep your left eye closed and take your right index finger and hold it directly behind your left so you can only see your left finger. Now alternate having only one eye open at a time.

Only your right, only your left. And you should see that Sometimes you see both fingers and sometimes you only see one finger. What's happening is that each eye is taking in a completely different perspective of the world, but our brain fuses those images together to help us make sense of our reality.

To help us see in 3D have depth perception and know that an object is hidden behind another. This is called stereoscopic vision. The thing is, as babies, we are not born with stereoscopic vision. It is experience dependent. You might be thinking, isn't that inconvenient? Wouldn't it be easier if we were just born with the ability to see in 3D and have depth perception?

Possibly. But the fact that our brain waits to see what's in store for us first before it figures all that out, is a major reason why we are as adaptive and flexible as. The fact that our brain is so experienced, dependent means that our brain will customize us for our very specific circumstances. But there's also a less helpful side to having such an experienced, dependent brain, and this has to do with the frontal areas of the brain, especially something called the prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is related to executive functioning. Many of you've likely heard of executive functioning. These are things like controlling our impulses, weighing of pros and cons, and thinking of future consequences. These prefrontal areas also help us with self-regulating, which is our ability to manage our stress and how our emotions affect us.

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