System 1, system 2

October 27, 2013

I am spending my vacation with my mother at home recently. She is 83 years old without any illness. She still keeps a good memory, calculating ability and attention to surrounding changes. However, I found some subtle changes in her behavior. She usually watch TV dramas at home besides doing routine house cleaning, cooking, food shopping, and exercises with her friends, which she still does. However, she seems not interested in watching TV drama anymore; instead, she can stare at the screen for a long time watching TV advertisements. Moreover, she reads advertisements magazines rather than other entertainment magazines page by page. Is it a early sign of brain power decline? 

From what I am reading now from “Thanking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, I found a possible explanation. He proposes there are two systems in our thinking: one is fast, intuitive, unconscious, pleasant, and effortless; the other is slow, reasoning, deliberative, and effortful. We need both system to live in this world, with system 1 responsible for familiar things and system 2 for new challenges. With bright colors, vivd acting and unstoppable repeating, the advertisements are the most easy thing to be remembered and familiar with, so that we can always reiterate some plots. This natural acceptance of advertisement by elder people may just reflect the easy, pleasant system 1 preference to lazy, effortful system 2, which is truly the reflection of neurological  functional decline in elders. 


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