A woman suffers from an itch so severe that she scratches right through to her brain—yet doctors find no medical ailment. War victims feel the sensations of a real limb—but from phantom appendages. What does it all add up to? Perhaps a new understanding of how our brains perceive reality: Call it the “brain’s best guess” theory, Atul Gawande writes in the New Yorker.
Emerging brain theory concludes that 90% of perceptions originate inside the brain, including neurological problems once considered nerve-related. As for the outside world, brains just rounds up weak sensory signals and call them experience. "Perception is the brain’s best guess about what is happening in the outside world," Gawande notes. "Perception," in short, "is inference."