Bangor University experts have discovered that the human brain is perfectly capable of withholding negative information from conscious perception. The entire process is done unconsciously, so we are not aware of this behavior, the UK investigators add.
The finding was made as investigators were working with bilingual people, the team reports in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. Interestingly, the effect also occurs in individuals who hear the negative words – such as unfortunate, discomfort and war – in their second language.
“We think we’ve identified, for the first time, the mechanism by which emotion controls fundamental thought processes outside consciousness,” Yan Jing Wu, PhD, explains. The scientist argues that this is a protective mechanisms our minds employ to reduce stress, PsychCentral
Disturbing emotional content can have severe negative impacts on our thinking, and having an impaired mind could have easily meant the difference between life and death for our ancestors. Therefore, the presence of this mechanism makes a lot of evolutionary sense.