There’s now considerable evidence about the patterns of brain activity that correspond to the hierarchical self-model. These neural correlates are implemented in certain brain circuits, in particular the salience network and the default mode network . The salience network allows us to feel the significance of bodily states triggered by worldly encounters. As we’ve discussed, organisms are constantly bombarded by information, only a fraction of which is ultimately relevant to their goals and interests. The salience network is what allows us to discern what matters and has meaning in its context. Meanwhile the default mode network underlies episodes of autobiographical thought such as memory, imagination, planning and decision-making. To simplify things a bit, we can say that the default mode network is frequently linked to the narrative self, while the salience network is associated with a more minimal, embodied self and its affective states.
The calculus of quitting also changes what it means to have a good division of labour at work. If your goal is to get a job somewhere else, not all work projects are equally valuable. Workers must jockey for the tasks and projects that might lead to a job elsewhere. They must try to avoid tasks that, either due to intellectual property issues or for other reasons, are too company-specific. Linus Huang, a sociologist at Berkeley, saw this happening in the Silicon Valley startup where he was working when Java was first becoming a popular programming language. There was quite a bit of work in his company involving the general-purpose programming language, C++ , and for many of the company’s needs, it was sufficient. Employees wanted to have practice with Java, however, because Java would make them more marketable in the future. Workers began to evaluate projects in terms of whether they would improve their Java skills. The managers began to struggle to find people who would do the day-to-day programming work, mostly in C++, upon which the company depended. They had no trouble, on the other hand, finding people to work on the few Java projects. When you work a job that presumes you will quit before too long, the tasks that are good for the company might not be good for you.