27 April 2010

Why the good guys always win

Following our article entitled “Eyes in the back of your head” published earlier this month I received a link to an article from one of our readers.

The article was a ‘tong-in-cheek’ item that sought to explain why actors such as Clint Eastwood and John Wayne always won in gun fights. The reason, according to the article, is because they drew their guns second.

The more serious point the article was making is that the brain has two ways of seeing. The first is the cognitive one of passing the information from your eyes to the cerebral part of your brain where you then think about it before making a decision as to what actions you should take as a result. The second way of seeing is where information from your eyes is passed directly into the lower part of your brain, into your limbic system. This part of your brain is the seat of your emotions and instincts. Because there is no cognitive thinking taking place in this part of your brain information is processed much more quickly than in the cerebral part of the brain.

The argument put forward in the article therefore was that the person who draws their gun first is thinking about the situation and making a decision. They must therefore be using their cerebral brain and will therefore be processing information more slowly than the other person who is now reacting instinctively to save their own life and will therefore be processing information using their limbic brain.

There is truth in this theory but if you would like to prove it for yourself I would not recommend using guns. Instead you could try playing the game we used to call “hand-slap” (click here for instructions) and you will find that the speed with which the person reacting can move is often greater than the person attempting to slap the hand.

Click here to read the full article on the MyBrain website.

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