silence

Why-Silence-is-So-Good-For-Your-Brain

A friend of mine, recently reminded me…

Silence isn’t empty;
If it were, we wouldn’t hear it so loudly

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will we evolve to forget?

will we evolve to forget

Snapchat are about to launch sunglasses that capture video of what you see.

Your brain already does that.

Many of us think visually. We see ourselves in our experiences. We recall memories this way; in our “mind’s eye”. We even create imagined futures by running video or slide shows of what might happen. Our imagination is cool.

If we start replacing the need to do this because technology does it for us, might we evolve to lose the ability?

Evolution of course takes time, but there is already evidence that more people are becoming nearsighted because of recent changes in patterns of behaviour. A new paper published in the journal Ophthalmology looks at worldwide trends in myopia (nearsightedness) by doing a meta-analysis of 145 studies involving 2.1 million total participants. It predicts that by the year 2050, 4.8 billion people will be nearsighted. That’s 49.8 percent of the world’s population. The theory is that this is because of increased close work in the office, use of handheld devices and because less time is spent outdoors.

So what next? No need to visually recall our experiences; just download what we saw from our sunglasses?

Now that’s a dark thought to dim the brightness of anyone’s day.

articulated mind traps

Observing a driver reversing an articulated lorry always gives me a sense of admiration. I notice a desire to be able to do that. It looks satisfying. I feel compelled to stand and watch.

But my brain says it’s hard.

‘I would probably struggle,’ it says. ‘It’s not as easy as it looks,’ it says. ‘Look on and marvel in the ability of these wondrous people, but it’s not for you, is it?’ it says.

Maybe it is hard, maybe it isn’t?
The point is that what my brain says, makes a big difference.

More importantly, what else does my brain say is hard?  What else do I avoid or just never get around to experiencing because my brain says it’s hard?

And … why does it do that?

What is my brain’s purpose in telling me it’s hard?  How is my own brain serving me, by telling me I will struggle to master that? By putting me off? By putting me down? By creating a limiting frame of reference?

But still I listen. Still I stand and marvel. Still I imagine.

the false memory in reflection


Listened to a really interesting talk by Dr Julia Shaw today on the illusion of memory.

The process in our brain by which we store memory and the one by which we imagine futures is largely the same. So we confuse the two. We all have what are termed false memories.

Proven in studies globally, eye witness recall is unreliable in that witnesses unwittingly lose detail or embellish the truth through imagination. This is not just the stress of witnessing crime – we all do it.

In essence every memory you hold might be untrue or inaccurate. Dr Shaw’s work demonstrates also how you can, simply, ‘con’ the brain into imagining a past memory. Watch here

I’m now sitting on a train looking at a reflection of the platform in a light cover. The reflection is upside down. Distorted. A bit like a false memory. But then, reflections are always distorted. Back to front or upside down. 

How apt. When we reflect on our experience, when we recall the memory, it has the potential to be distorted. Inaccurate. Missing key parts. Events that we imagined, added as truths. Events that actually happened, inflated or diminished in their significance, or removed totally.

Worth reflecting on?

gone for good

image

Trolley points. You know, places where you return a trolley and get your money back. You find them in car parks, on train stations, in airports. You’ve made use of the trolley as part of your journey. It served a purpose and now you’re done with it. So you can return it to a tidy spot and be reimbursed. It’s gone for good.

On life’s journey we collect stuff too, but there’s not usually somewhere handy to leave it when you’re done. You end up storing it in your head. Sometimes it comes back out and trips you up, or slows you down. Sometimes you try and lock it away in a ‘cupboard’ in a corner of your brain. You know you don’t need it, or want it again. It has served its purpose on your journey. But it won’t stay there; it keeps on returning. Like a runaway trolley hitting your shins.

Trolley point anyone?

 

time to flex your happy muscle?

happiness mindfulness meditation
For many centuries, great sages, such as Aristotle, Bhudda, Confucius and Epicurus have advocated the pursuit of happiness. They have suggested happiness comes from within, from creating an inner peace, from reflection. Happiness of the mind, rather than of things.

Now science appears to be catching up. I have just been reading about a study at Kyoto University. The research, reported here, has identified a part of the brain, the precuneus, which appears to be larger in people who self declare themselves to have meaning in their lives, who report positive emotional and cognitive experiences and describe themselves as happy. This has been correlated to studies into meditation, which show that the precuneus grows in people who make meditation a part of their lives – it seems that calming our thoughts, being present in the current moment can exercise our happy muscle.

The research speaks of psychological training that could increase the volume of grey matter in the precuneus, which in turn may enhance subjective happiness. The report’s summary says…

Psychological studies have shown that subjective happiness can be measured reliably and consists of emotional and cognitive components. However, the neural substrates of subjective happiness remain unclear. To investigate this issue, we used structural magnetic resonance imaging and questionnaires that assessed subjective happiness, the intensity of positive and negative emotional experiences, and purpose in life. We found a positive relationship between the subjective happiness score and gray matter volume in the right precuneus. Moreover, the same region showed an association with the combined positive and negative emotional intensity and purpose in life scores. Our findings suggest that the precuneus mediates subjective happiness by integrating the emotional and cognitive components of happiness

Time to flex the happy muscle?

Now that’s a happy thought…