Human Mind Product of Chaotic Evolutionary Path, NYU Psychology Professor Concludes in New Book


The human mind, far from being a highly efficient computer, is in fact the product of a bumpy evolutionary path, serving as a marvelous storage facility but operating as a shaky retrieval system, concludes New York University s Gary Marcus in his new book Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind (Houghton Mifflin).

The human mind, far from being a highly efficient computer, is in fact the product of a bumpy evolutionary path, serving as a marvelous storage facility but operating as a shaky retrieval system, concludes New York University’s Gary Marcus in his new book Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind (Houghton Mifflin).

“Kluge,” a term popularized by computer pioneer Jackson Granholm, is “an ill-assorted collection of poorly matching parts, forming a distressing whole.”

The fundamental difference between computers and the human mind is in the basic organization of memory, Marcus observes. While computers organize everything they store according to physical or logical locations, the human brain stores millions of memories, but has no idea where they are located-information is retrieved not by knowing where it is, but by using cues or clues that hint at what we are looking for.

He contends that evolution has produced a complex, but overloaded, neurological system that utilizes “contextual memory”-we retrieve material out of our memories by using context or clues that hint at what we are looking for. Thus, the system is built for speed rather than reliability, and is better at the quick retrieval of general information rather than specific details.

“In the best-case situation, this process works well: the particular memo 500

Cannot serve request to /content/nyu/en/about/news-publications/news/2008/april/human_mind_product_of_chaotic.html on this server


ApacheSling/2.2 (Day-Servlet-Engine/4.1.52, Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM 1.7.0_80, Linux 2.6.32-696.6.3.el6.centos.plus.x86_64 amd64)