The Brain as a Small Town Metaphor

Simcity Brain

How we view our minds matters. And we all love metaphors — they are a very tempting way to view things — even if dangerously inaccurate, it is what we do. So competing in the metaphor arena, I am sharing this mind metaphor by Michael, Corballis — a retired professor of psychology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Below is quote from Michael Corballis’ book “The Wandering Mind“. Corballis’ quote reminds me of how I also view the mind — as a community.  See my post on “Inner vs Outer Morality“:

The brain is a bit like a small town, with people milling around, going about their business. When some big event occurs, such as a football game, the people then flock to the football ground, while the rest of the town grows quiet. A few people come from outside, slightly increasing the population. But its not the football game we’re interested in here. Rather, it’s the varied business of the town, the give and take of commerce, the sometimes meandering activity of people in their communities and places of work. So it is in the brain. When the mind is not focused on some event, it wanders.

Though I like Corballis’ metaphor, in this quote I would change the last line to read:

When the mind attention (the brain’s public camera) is not focused on some event, it wanders it tends to pan around the town, catching glimpses of all the activity always happening.


See my other posts on Many-Selves here.

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