Sunday, December 16, 2007
Frog Brain Theory
Has this ever happened to you?
You're watching television, surfing the 'net or flipping through a magazine. A gruesome photo startles you. The reaction is instantaneous- so fast that, if you look away, you may not remember many details. You've somehow managed to scare yourself before taking the whole thing in. How is that possible?
That's where my Frog Brain theory comes in. Let's say I happen upon a scene from "Zombie Butcher Weasel Bloodbath III." More than one part of my brain reacts. By the time my conscious, articulate brain thinks Wait a second! That's not marinara sauce! , a more primitive part of my brain has already sensed danger and triggered the fear reaction.
I call this privative part of my my head Frog Brain.
A frog probably doesn't think, Gosh, that approaching predator could kill me. It'd better flee. He panics. He leaps. I suspect parts of our brains react the same way. The difference between us and the frog is that we can think about our reactions. Explain them. Justify them. "Of course the picture startled me," I might explain. "It was hideous! No, I don't want another look." Never mind that logically, I shouldn't be alarmed because it's only a picture.
Frog Brain doesn't understand pictures. He sees blood and hits the panic button.
I wonder if Frog Brain's dubious reactions fall beyond hitting the panic button. Is his crude sense of "that's bad!" behind our superstitions? Our prejudices? Our bad habits and behavior?