Neural Election Prediction
Why do we often know in advance what a friend will choose? Apparently, special nerve cells predict the decisions of our counterpart.
Imagine flying to Bilbao in northern Spain for a short trip. At lunchtime you will reach Plaza Nueva with its charming bars and taverns. A challenge awaits you in the restaurant that is unusual for Central Europeans: Basque meals are characterized by pintxos, savory mini-snacks consisting of small baguette slices, which are topped with various types of vegetables, meat and fish in a wide variety of combinations. With such a we alth of colours, shapes and textures, which variety should you choose?
Fortunately, the pintxos bar is a sociable place. A look at your conversation partner's plate tells you that the inconspicuous mackerel and pepper pod version seems to taste particularly good. Immediately use this information for your own choice. Psychologists call this social learning or observational learning.
Such social observations help us not only to make our own decisions, but also to predict the actions of others - a cognitive skill known as theory of mind. Let's assume you meet the person you're talking to from the pintxos bar in another bar in the evening. As you wait at the counter, you can already picture in your mind the dish he's likely to choose before he even places his order. If your suspicions are confirmed, secretly look forward to …