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Arts Psychology Science

Hidden proof

Santiago Ramón y Cajal (via The New York Times)

More than a hundred years ago, the father of modern neuroscience, Santiago Ramón y Cajal demonstrated that information is the output of messy internal wiring provided by the brain’s chemical synchronicity. He used his trained skills as an artist to illustrate the neuron doctrine.

Images via Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal

He called the connection between the neural impulses synapses, the gaps between the neurons that allowed them to talk to each other. However, he couldn’t identify the synapses under the microscope like we can with 200X magnification today.

You can still walk across an invisible bridge even if you can’t physically see it there. All you need to know is that the magic is working.

Read Hunched Over a Microscope, He Sketched the Secrets of How the Brain Works

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Life & Philosophy Psychology Science

Information is the sum of parts

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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. And the chaos is why it works.

Read: Does Information Smell?

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Life & Philosophy Psychology

The ‘split brain’

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We are a function of two brains: a left brain and a right. Both sides work together to create a unity of one.

One side is usually more dominant than the other. For some people, they think in words rather than patterns — they are more analytical than visual. Others can be more right-minded, perceptive rather than too sober.

The function of two brains

The left brain edits the right. The right brain loosens up the left. One side tells you to conform; the other side to rage into your art.

Both brain hemispheres work together in a system of checks and balances.

Left, right, analytical or creative, we are two selves in one split brain.

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Gardening the brain with a good night’s rest

sleeping brain
Sleep refreshes the brain

Your brain works like a dishwasher when you sleep, cleaning out the dirty information and tidying up the important stuff. You can also think of the sleeping mind as working as a garden, growing “synaptic connections between neurons” so neurotransmitters can pass through.

“Your brain cleans itself out when you sleep—your brain cells shrinking by up to 60% to create space for your glial gardeners to come in take away the waste and prune the synapses.”

Sleeping permits the glial gardeners, also called “microglial cells,” to sweep through your brain and make space for learning new information. A well-rested brain is like walking gracefully through the park. On the other hand, a tired brain leaves it cloudy.

“Thinking with a sleep-deprived brain is like hacking your way through a dense jungle with a machete. Its overgrown, slow going, exhausting.”

The brain also recycles synaptic connections during sleep. Thinking about positive things throughout the day will help keep those thoughts top of mind. Meanwhile, harping on jealousy or hatred will make the brain cling to unwanted trash.

“To take advantage of your brain’s natural gardening system, simply think about the things that are important to you. Your gardeners will strengthen those connections and prune the ones that you care about less. It’s how you help the garden of your brain flower.”

You are what you think about all day, which gets reinforced during sleep. Be mindful of the memories you want to keep and forget the rest, letting the brain delete the crap.

Your Brain Has A “Delete” Button—Here’s How To Use It

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In some ways an experience isn’t complete unless I write about it.

— Oliver Sacks, “Neuro visions
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Draw sound.  Synesthesia.