Why did we evolve the ability to think about our own thoughts?

Posted on June 13, 2014

Thinking about "the stuff of thought" sounds self-absorbed and irrelevant for our survival, but an opinion piece in the journal Trends in Cognitive Science says otherwise. Far from navel-gazing, this kind of thinking is what helps groups of people coordinate actions and pull off feats that would be impossible alone.

The article points out that the sharing of information between cognitive processes is not uniquely human. Consider the way information is drawn from a field of visual neurons and calculations are performed on this data to determine whether a spotted object is clearly identifiable or still ambiguous. This form of mental data reuse is possible without conscious awareness and is performed routinely by many animals. But humans go further. Perhaps uniquely, we are capable of self-aware metacognition – that is, we can consciously reflect on the content of our own thoughts.

Click on the link below to read the full article

Source material from British Psychological Society

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