Remember when we had to read an outdated map when driving to an unknown location? Thank god (and Google) for the numerous map applications our phones now grace us with. Our “notes” and “calendar” applications, reminding us of “to do” lists, family birthdays and weekly meetings have also been pretty convenient for all of us. Today, whether we seek to maximize productivity at work or simply carry out daily tasks, we carry the idea that technology will help make things faster and easier in the future. What if the coolest application was in our brain and all we needed was the promo code to unlock it?
Today we share an article from Jerry Large at The Seattle Times in which he discusses our brain’s unknown abilities and how we could benefit from brain awareness and management.
A lot of times when I think about progress, its face is technological. Maybe like a lot of people, I’m fascinated by the latest gadget. How much attention do we pay to each version of the smartphone?
But the future is not just about inventing new technology, it’s also about upgrading ourselves — about putting to good use what we’re learning about our own brains.
I’ve been reading about sex and perception, and a couple of ideas that could improve teaching, medicine and other professions, too.
Of course, this caught my eye: “feeling fat may make you fat.” It was the headline on a report from Norway, where researchers questioned more than a thousand teenagers of normal weight about their size.
The first survey was conducted in the 1990s and the same students were surveyed again when they were in their mid-20s.
Most of the subjects who thought they were overweight when they were teens were much more likely to become overweight as adults than those who had not called themselves fat as teens.
The researchers said the stress of feeling overweight can contribute to weight gain, and efforts to lose weight can backfire by leading people away from healthy eating patterns.
We can do better, because learning is also a strong human trait.I just saw a study that suggests a way to improve teaching that teachers might like.
Researchers at the University of Chicago took advantage of the brain’s strong aversion to the loss of anything it values.
They gave teachers a bonus at the beginning of the school year and told them they would have to give the money back if student performance didn’t improve.
By the end of the year, students did significantly better on an academic test than demographically similar students. The experiment was done in a high-poverty district.
Previous studies have shown that the lure of a reward at the end of a successful year produced no academic gains. The fear of losing what we already have motivates people more.
There are lots of ways to improve performance by taking advantage of what we know about how the brain works.
At Pennsylvania State University, researchers in the College of Medicine gave the brains of midcareer physicians a jolt by having them do literary criticism.
Doctors met every other week. They talked about the portrayal of medical topics in various literary forms. They wrote original pieces and critiqued each other’s work. Some even published what they’d written. And they felt renewed creativity in their medical work.
A Penn State news release on the experiment quoted Kimberly Meyers, a humanities professor, who said “The process of literary analysis, which is both methodical and intuitive, helps to sharpen the cognitive processes inherent in medical diagnosis and treatment.”
We’ve barely begun to get a handle on it, but we stand to get more benefit from better brain management than we might from some cool new app.