DM Blog

No More Brain Farts


Here’s an interesting article from the Globe and Mail on research into "mistakes". Apparently, now there’s scientific proof that mistakes don’t just come out of the blue:

The researchers conducted MRI scans of people while they performed a repetitive task and discovered that the subjects exhibited the same set of brain patterns prior to committing an error 50 per cent of the time.

The findings could potentially be used to improve workplace safety by reducing human error.

"The change in brain activity started about 30 seconds before an error was made, and this was a surprising result," says Stefan Debener, a brain researcher at the MRC Institute of Hearing Research in Southampton, England, and one of the lead authors of the study. "it’s new because up to now the common view was that errors came out of the blue."

One area of brain activity prior to an error is the default mode region, a part of the brain that’s usually engaged when a person is relaxing. This gives rise to the interpretation that dull, repetitive work can lull some workers into mistakes. Yes, the concept of "mind-numbing work" now has some science behind it.

Dr. Debener says one possible application for the findings is "to create monitoring devices to warn people before committing errors on the job."

How would you feel if your employer made you wear a helmet/headpiece to monitor your brain?