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Life & Philosophy Psychology Science

Information is the sum of parts

The brain is just a collection of tangled wires with neuron connectivity levels. We call its output ‘information’ because we need some way of describing chemical synchronicity.

The computer works the same way.

On the inside, it’s a collection of chips and wires with various voltage levels. What we see on screen is what we label as information.

Information is the same name we give to brain chemicals and computer voltage to describe the organized chaos.

The squalor is why it works.

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Life & Philosophy Science

We can redesign our brain

“Who you are depends on what your neurons are up to, moment by moment,” writes David Eagleman in his book The Brain: The Story of You.

The classical textbook tells us that our brains are immutable after a certain age, that in fact, our neurocognitive code is set in place right after our teens.

But today’s neuroscience studies show that the mind remains forever elastic. By staying challenged and interested in new experiences, we can plant even more brain cells and make even more connections.

Writes Sharon Begley in Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain:

William James, the father of experimental psychology in the United States, first introduced the word plasticity to the science of the brain, positing in 1890 that “organic matter, especially nervous tissue, seems endowed with a very extraordinary degree of plasticity.”

Sharon Begley, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain

It’s therefore vital that the information we choose to digest and how we categorize it ameliorate the brain’s flexibility rather than deteriorate it.

We may be born with a set number of preconditions, but that will never account for what we can gain from trial and error. Neuroplasticity ensures that we can redesign our brains as we wish.

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Creativity Life & Philosophy Tech

Where it sings

A mind running on the “factory setting” defaults to organizational distraction. Everydayness overtakes what was inherent fascination.

A mind surrendering to the television or the internet sits stuck in a ludic loop of changing the channels or flicking to the next app.

A mind in search of its stimulation stumbles upon daydreams and mind wandering.

The mysterious power of doing nothing intends to fill in the void. There is no lapse in creativity.

Boredom is where the synapses sing.

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Creativity Life & Philosophy

Head to head ➡️ 🧠 ⬅️

There are two people living inside our heads, one left brained and analytical and the other right brained and more free-flowing and creative. Together, they work in harmony. #gif #philosophy #life

There are two people living inside our heads, one left brained and analytical and the other right brained and more free-flowing and creative. Together, they work in harmony.

Of course, we also have a third piece of our brain that spaces out. Daydreams are moments that spark the foundation of new ideas, where the subconscious connects the dots.

The mind’s left-right dichotomy begets a full revelation, that we narrate ourselves and pluck information to shape our agenda. But the quest for certainty and meaning eventually come head to head.

art via giphy

Categories
Psychology Science

How complaining affects the brain

“Don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses, just do the best you can do,” said UCLA coach John Wooden.

It turns out the coach was on to something.

Recent studies show that complaining every day changes the structure of the brain.

Harmful behaviors such as complaining, if allowed to loop within the brain continually, will inevitably alter thought processes. Altered thoughts lead to altered beliefs which leads to a change in behavior.

Our brain possesses a something called the negativity bias. In simple terms, negativity bias is the brain’s tendency to focus more on negative circumstances than positive.

Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuroscientist and author of Buddha’s Brain, explains negativity bias:

“Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intensive positive ones. They are also perceived more easily and quickly.”

Fortunately, the brain is plastic, which means it can allow more positive emotions to work alongside more negative ones.

Writes Alex Korb, author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time:

“In depression, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the brain. It’s simply that the particular tuning of neural circuits creates the tendency toward a pattern of depression. It has to do with the way the brain deals with stress, planning, habits, decision making and a dozen other things — the dynamic interaction of all those circuits. And once a pattern starts to form, it causes dozens of tiny changes throughout the brain that create a downward spiral.”

Your hopes and fears may be in your genes, but that doesn’t spell doom. One of the most practical things we can do to counter negative thinking is practicing meditation. “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” said neuroplasticity pioneer Donald Hebb. 

If forcing positive thinking feels inauthentic, try watching your thoughts instead. Being a neutral observer will help you rise above the whole notion of emotional sidedness. As with any self-improvement mechanism, daily practice and momentum is the key to long-term success.

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Arts Cool Products Psychology Science

Heart work is head work 🗣️🅰️

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via Adam Tozer

The mind is the kite, the heart is the string.

7114fDv3ACL._AC_SR300,500_.jpg
X-Ray Anatomical Heart

Categories
Creativity Science

The benefits of spacing out

Our mind never turns off. Even when we’re doing nothing, the brain is always active, processing, remixing, and imagining in what neuroscientist Marcus Raichle calls a ‘default mode network.’

Writes Manoush Zomorodi in “What Boredom Does to You:”

The default mode, a term also coined by Raichle, is used to describe the brain “at rest”; that is, when we’re not focused on an external, goal-oriented task. So, contrary to the popular view, when we space out, our minds aren’t switched off.

Boredom prompts daydreaming. When we let our mind wander, we’re giving it permission to chew on past, present, and future events; all real, imaginary, or blended.

It turns out that in the default mode, we’re still tapping about 95 percent of the energy we use when our brains are engaged in hardcore, focused thinking. Despite being in an inattentive state, our brains are still doing a remarkable amount of work.

Mulling over possibilities makes ‘boredom an incubator lab for brilliance.’ There is no reason to rush to a stimulation of dopamine when creativity begs us to take our time and let the hard egg boil into ‘the winning equation or formula.’

We suffer from closeupness which is often disguised as mindlessness. Some of our best thinking happens when we think we’re not thinking at all, instead of disconnecting to the spontaneity of mind-wandering.

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Psychology

We forget the mundane and remember the weird

We tend to forget the mundane and remain loyal to the weird. What’s uninteresting remains unremembered. What peers into the mind eye’s with a little humor and exaggeration is the stuff that sticks.

Too ordinary becomes unextraordinary, not silly enough to make a significant dent.

Try not thinking about a purple cow, rainbow-striped zebra, the pink bird (a rosefinch) or a dog driving a pick-up truck. Now try to forget it 😉

You have to fake sleep to get to sleep. See! It’s the weird that binds.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Procrastinators can be finishers

We are told to ship it; release it before it’s finished, get it out of our hands so we can get the feedback we need to iterate and perfect our product. It’s a grueling process that fires up the anxiety. Is this thing going to work or go out to the void?

In his latest op-ed Why Do Anything? A Meditation on Procrastination Humanities professor and author Costica Bradatan writes:

Procrastination and mourning are tied tightly together: for to procrastinate is to mourn the precariousness of your creation even before you bring it into the world.

We are stuck between thinking and action, for which we have no choice but to finish what we started:

The procrastinator is both contemplator and man of action, which is the worst thing to be, and which is tearing him apart.

Procrastination is the purest form of idleness. And it is the brain’s neurons that dictate what we decide to do. “Who you are depends on what your neurons are up to, moment by moment,” says David Eagleman in his book The Brain: The Story of You.

So if neurons predict our fate but the mind is plastic, we should be setting up the entire system to prepare for better decision-making. For starters, we can make a list of the things we can control. But there will never be any guarantees that it’ll work. That’s where the habits and enthusiasm come in to help us overcome the fear.

Categories
Productivity & Work Psychology

Mental retirement 


Wouldn’t it be great to retire by thirty or forty years old? What sounds good in theory though has negative consequences for the brain. 

Indeed, a lot of work is repetitive and unnecessarily political, as we jump through hoops to make it up the ladder. And while our work may not be the most stimulating thing to do, it keeps our brain active. 

Studies show a correlation between retirement and memory loss.

The researchers find a straight-line relationship between the percentage of people in a country who are working at age 60 to 64 and their performance on memory tests. The longer people in a country keep working, the better, as a group, they do on the tests when they are in their early 60s.

We need challenges. We need some type of mind games to keep our brains fresh as we age. If we can’t recall how to act like inquisitive children who willfully fail, we need something more than physical exercise to hold up neurological plasticity. 

While work can be depressing, it’s keeps the brain cells running. Excess relaxation is what dulls the mind. Use it or lose it.