How do our brains fall for disinformation? | Oct. 14, 2019

Fake news isn’t new. Neurologists study how brains take in information. " How do our brains fall for disinformation?" | Wendy Leung | Oct. 14, 2019 | Globe and Mail at

Part of the reason people fall for false content lies in the way our brains take in information, says neurologist Lesley Fellows, a professor at McGill University who has studied how the brain makes political decisions. Our brains are constantly and heavily filtering the world around us through a framework of biases and stereotypes created through our experiences.

“It’s a general feature of the brain. It can’t possibly cope in fact with all the information out there, so we use our prior experience to filter the information in,” she said, noting this function explains how optical illusions work: “The brain imagines how things ought to be and it takes the information that fits with that [assumption].” […]

Having an entrenched worldview, shaped by decades of experience, may be one reason older people tend to be more likely to share false information, said Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor of psychology and neural science at New York University.

Van Bavel said that people older than 65 are six to seven times more likely to share fake news than their younger counterparts. He is currently conducting a brain imaging study to investigate why.

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