“Success is in your blood, with an openness to new experiences and curiosity that often puts you in the right place at the right time; you get these traits from Da Vinci. You also exert optimism and positive energy, which means other people love being around you and always seem to open up to you; that’s your Abraham Lincoln side.”
Brain parts are linked to behaviours, characteristics, and skills. Arguably, by analysing which part of the brain is responsible for which trait, you might be able to look at someone’s actions and conclude which part of the brain was involved.
This principle is behind a new ‘brain quiz’ created by the media website Mic. The quote above is part of my result after answering 12 questions on what I would do in a given situation or when confronted with a certain event. The rationale – based on how these famous people used to act, and how these behaviours are linked to brain research, my brain patterns have got to be similar to their brain patterns. Or something like that.
The cool part about the quiz are the fascinating interactive anatomy-of-brain graphics that illustrate the explanation behind each answer. Another nice aspect is the fact they have used “peer-reviewed, scientific studies published in reputable academic journals over the last decade. Many of the studies employ fMRI technology to measure blood flow and areas of fluctuating activity in the brain.”
There is (oh, there always is) a caveat, of course. Taking psychological phenomena and linking them to neural phenomena can be a tricky business that leads to simplification or obscuration of how things actually work. Philosopher Tyler Burge dubbed this problem ‘neurobabble’, highlighting the fact that it’s possible to use the wrong level of explanation when dealing with psychological phenomena. Bringing neuroscience into the mix may add a veneer of scientific-ness, even though the plain facts are no more sexy or informative than they would be without the “this part of the brain lights up when you think about cheese” bit.
Now that you are aware of this caveat, go play with the quiz, it’s quite fun, and very pretty.