September 23, 2012

Some things that you don't know about your brain




100 billion nerve cells and yet we could forget our friend's birthday? 

Well, before one start pointing finger at our brain engine that runs all day long so long as one is alive, maybe it is time to understand some of the things that we don't realize.




1) Google is making the brain weaker...
A colleague of mine, Alicia mentioned that smartphone is actually causing productivity to drop even though it should improve it. Main reasons of course is the whatsapp, Google search, Facebook etc while we should really be working...but then, there is a fact in that statement...in fact, the internet is the cause of the weakening of our brain. The more one rely on the internet, the more one ignore the functionality of their brains. Study author Betsy Sparrow, PhD suggests we should focus on "greater understanding of ideas and ways of thinking," and less on memorization. 




2) Some of us crave for junk food, some don't...
During one of those study, subjects were shown with the name of foods and the parts of the brain that got excited was the same as the ones activated in drug addicts. Dopamine, the hormone linked to motivation and pleasure could be the source...people with fewer dopamine may need more food to energize the brain...




3) Music, nostalgia and Brain?
It is probably not difficult to connect these three...meaningful songs from childhood days could easily trigger the fond memories...

4) Ability to predict what is to happen...
The front-most region, the frontopolar cortex of the brain, helps predict future events from past experiences. Sounds like some psychic-superpowers? Well, it's not exactly psychic-superpowers, but the brain has the ability to make short-term predictions and think strategically about the future by drawing conclusions from recent patterns. 
For instance, the study's participants could anticipate slot machine payoffs based on previous trends in the games. 





5) Distracted easily while shopping
I never believe this before since I'm a guy but after reading this, I sensed some truth in it. 
When one is cloudy from stress, lack of sleep or low awareness, it is easy to be persuaded to buy something if out in the shopping mall. The brain will also subconsciously push one to buy for expensive products or branded goods if there are attractive, potential mates nearby, so as to impress them.

6) Trust your gut feeling
Even the brain might not be able to make the right decision when it comes to big and complex matters. When the unconscious state of the brain takes charge, most people end up having less remorse. A good example is taking on a new job...(salary, long-term potential, location, et cetera) could be the factors but instead of getting stuck in it, it might be better to sleep on it at times.




7) Forget about brain games...focus on music instead?
If you think that brain games are going to help you in developing your memory skill or boost the learning abilities, you can forget about it. The recent studies show that it does not really work...if you really want to improve your brain power, focus on music...Stanford University researchers found that it helps the brain to better organize chaos, pay attention, make predictions, and update memory.

8) It is not difficult to stimulate the brain...but it might not be what you are thinking...
Instead of trying to charm a beautiful lady or being more popular on Facebook, you can actually find healthy ways to stimulate the brain...
Exercise, spending time with friends, treating yourself to a day of relaxation.

9) The brain peaks in the 20s...
If you are after about 27, then the brain cells are already starting to lose although the brain functionality normally starts deteriorating after the age of 45. If you want to beat the odds, eat your way with healthy fruits like blueberries...help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, maintain your memory, and boost my acetylcholine levels (which helps improve memory function).


Sleeping is not lazy...it's a need...

10) The need to sleep...
While the brain never really sleep, it is important that you get a goodnight rest....Sleep helps stabilizes memories. It also may help the brain to process them, by encoding the emotional bits and ditching the unnecessary details to remember the order of events. 

11) The brain can be reprogrammed to be happier...
A new colleague of mine teach me about hypnotizing oneself to be happier...and I always find it difficult to agree...but like it or not, the brain could actually be reprogrammed to be happier. 
To rewire the brain to become more optimistic, take positive actions! Recent research shows that genes play only a 30 to 40% role in your life outlook, and you can shift from being a pessimist to an optimist over time. So, start taking positive actions today!! Now!





12) The brain becomes better with exercise...
You might not want to believe this but exercise helps more than just keeping your bones strong and heart pumping. Art Kramer, from the University of Illinois, found that memory—one component of the brain many functions that declines with age—can improve with treadmill usage just three days a week, working up to an hour a day. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which delivers vital oxygen and glucose. MRIs revealed that areas pivotal for decision-making, planning, and multitasking also improved in those who went on the treadmill.


This type of comedy might just be what you need...

13) Laughter is the best medicine even for the brain
The amygdala and hippocampus (two parts linked to depression) light up when one hear laughter, as does the nucleus accumbens, which is a key player in pleasurable feelings. Chuckling reduces stress hormones and lowers blood pressure too, decreasing your chance of heart attack and stroke. In one 2012 study, researchers found an increase in oxytocin (also known as the “love hormone”, which enhances the brain's reward centers), when subjects listened to infant laughter. This may just explain the YouTube popularity of laughing baby videos. Maybe it is time for me to start watching at funny videos again...


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