Still as part of the series on the brain begun in this issue of Futuribles, Pascale Toscani, in the introduction to her article, raises a familiar question: why do we have to think before replying to a question that is put to us? The answer, she explains, is that “our brain works before us, before the information arrives in our consciousness,” because it is endowed with a capacity for anticipation based on everything it has registered in the past. But trawling our memories is not enough and the author shows us the frequent mismatch between question and response depending on the terms employed, on each person’s representations, on our cultural referents etc.
With the help of copious examples, Toscani alerts us to our cognitive biases, a deceptive, falsely logical from of thinking, which she aims, in part, to explain – first by describing in detail how babies’ brains are organized and operate and, second, how academic learning works. And, last, by taking up and delving deeper into the two systems of thought highlighted by Daniel Kahneman (automatic thought based on “procedural memory” and, by contrast, demanding reflective mental activity), in order to show the essential role intelligence plays in freeing us from received ideas and cognitive biases and enabling us to manage situations characterized by “cognitive dissonance”.