Categories
Life & Philosophy Nature Psychology

How the mind designs itself

We are always making predictions about our future. When we infer, we ignite consciousness.

Within the complex system of our neurocognitive wiring comes transparency we can’t explain. The external world processes through a symphony of brain loops.

Thinking is on a mission to remain consistent, predictable, while wildly variable. To err is to make strides.

The mind’s chaos is why it works, just as New York City operates a clear system amid bustling streets.

Minds are a byproduct of evolution, structurally optimized to clean themselves out of their internal wiring kinks.

“Evolution depends on the existence of high-fidelity copying but not perfect copying, since mutations (copying errors) are the ultimate source of all novelty.”

Daniel Dennett

Design is simultaneously intelligent and unintelligent, devised to keep pace with our internal weather.

Categories
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.

Categories
Psychology Science

Tips for boosting your memory and brain power

If you’re looking to boost your memory and brain power, this video contains some excellent tips and reminders.

In summary:

  • Exercise. Physical exercise helps form new brain cells and solidifies existing neurons. It also increases the hippocampus brain area which is responsible for memory and learning.
  • Never stop learning. Learning something new builds new brain cells. In fact, parts of your brain shrink when you stop learning. Be a life-long learner!
  • Play music. Learning to play music stimulates your verbal memory. This is because music training improves your left temporal lobe.
  • Use Mnemonics. Associate new information with a shortcut of memorable images, sentences, or simple words. Also, try the Acrostic and Mind Palace techniques. The more you can combine words with images, the stronger your brainpower. Keep in mind what Einstein said about creativity.
  • Gain new experiences. Do small things like eating with your weaker hand to stimulate more connections between areas of your brain. Such practice also strengthens nerve cells and ward off the negative impact of aging.
  • Try brain games. You can also work out your brain with puzzles, crosswords, or Sudoku. Playing brain games improves cognition and keeps surviving neurons active.
  • Eat omega-rich foods. Your brain needs omega-3 fatty acids to function at its optimal level.
  • Challenge your brain. It’s vital to do small tasks like practicing math skills so you don’t outsource all your thinking to computers.

Above all, stay mentally active by engaging in mental stimulation. That does not mean chasing the nearest dopamine hit. Do any of the above tips on a daily basis instead.

Categories
Psychology Science

‘Who you are depends on what your neurons are up to, moment by moment’ 🧠

“Who you are depends on what your neurons are up to, moment by moment.”
— David Eagleman, The Brain: The Story of You
Categories
Culture Science Tech

Human plus machine 🤖

It’s inevitable. In technology, nothing stands still.

We’ll know what we want to accomplish and we’ll do so with incredible pace and confidence.

The only thing that stands in our way is lack of belief in the brain and body’s flexibility.

Virtual or non-virtual reality, there will only be one continuous world. Everything else is information, waiting to be decoded.

The human part will transcend the robot, the robot part will bring new meaning to the brain’s neuroplasticity. We’ll be able to recall Instagrams before the tip of the tongue.

Through neuro-chip exertion, the mind will make ‘always-on’ an exaggeration of the past.

Sleep may be the nature’s last organic recharge.

Further reading:

Categories
Psychology Science

The woman who never forgets…anything

Imagine having a “highly superior autobiographical memory” (H.S.A.M).

That’s the case for Australian Rebecca Sharrock who remembers everything from the time she was born to what she did on any particular Saturday a decade ago. ALL in clear detail.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘People can remember what they did last Saturday but I can remember what I did Saturday ten years ago.'” quote=”‘People can remember what they did last Saturday but I can remember what I did Saturday ten years ago.'”]

Only 60 people in the world are known to have the memory condition. And while it comes with benefits — she can even remember every word from the Harry Potter books — there are negative moments in her life that she can’t forget. Yet, even when times get tough she can recall the good memories to balance it out.

Amazing.

Categories
Books Culture Science

Why we prefer Friday to Sunday

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It‘s a curious fact, because Friday is a day of work and Sunday is a day for pleasure, so you would expect people to enjoy Sunday more, right? But we don’t. It’s not because we really like being in the office and can’t stand strolling in the park and having a lazy brunch. We prefer Friday to Sunday because Friday brings with it the thrill of anticipating the weekend ahead. In contrast, on Sunday the only thing to look forward to is work on Monday.”

The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain by Tali Sharot

Ironically, the day of rest also comes with the “Sunday Blues” while Friday, a day we should feel work-averse, fires up the brain in anticipation of the school bell.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Psychology Science

“The map is not the territory”

The human head consists of a left brain and a right brain, each with distinct cognitive functions. The left hemisphere is known for processing logic and doing verbal and mathematical analysis while the right half excels in creativity and imagination, the visual stuff.

But the left brain holds responsibility for how we react since it’s the one that interprets. As we think, so are we. As neuroscience writer Eric Barker points out, “anxiety and depression are caused by thinking problems.” In other words, we tend to exaggerate and jump to conclusions when there’s none to be drawn. Exhibit A:

Right Brain: The boss seems agitated.

Left Brain: Better get the resume together. We’re getting fired.

Mindfulness acts as the parent-guardian to a brain in flux. It helps people take a step back from the false information they design in their heads. Polish-American scientist Alfred Korzybski once said that “the map is not the territory.” In other words, a map is an abstraction of land, a mere model of reality just as skeuomorphism makes an icon for trash look like a garbage can. Similarly, the medium is the message.

There is no such thing as the left-right lateralization of brain function; there’s only one brain that works with the sum of its parts. Designers can be mathematicians and vice versa, as the brain may be partial to skills but impartial to sidedness. It’s how we think about ourselves and our surroundings that usually gets in the way.

Neuroscience Of Mindfulness: How To Make Your Mind Happy

Categories
Science

Mind readers

People don’t know themselves, let alone others, as well as they think. Sorry, David Hume.

In an op-ed published in the New York Times, Duke neuroscientist Alex Rosenberg debunks a popular belief that we know our minds best.

“There is no first-person point of view.”

The way you interpret yourself may be just as faulty as the way you perceive others.

But humans aren’t the only ones with the “mind reading” faculty. Jane Goodall revealed that Apes also had their “theories of mind.” Animals are trying to guess each other’s intentions all the time.



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What separates humans from other organisms is language. But heard speech is only a part of the sensory experience. We also take into account other people’s’ behavior: the way they walk, talk, and dress. We’re overconfident in our ability to guess the thoughts and actions of others, most of which is wrong. We say the same faulty things about ourselves.

“there is compelling evidence that our own self-awareness is actually just this same mind reading ability, turned around and employed on our own mind, with all the fallibility, speculation, and lack of direct evidence that bedevils mind reading as a tool for guessing at the thought and behavior of others.”

The old age rings true: Don’t judge a book by its cover.