Our brains are really amazing. They enable us to rhyme, run, reason and make exceptionally complicated calculations in seconds, without us even realising it. The brain is the single most fundamentally evolved part of our body, allowing our species to rise to the dizzying heights of the current day.
The brain works in very mysterious ways too, way’s you’d never really anticipate. Here are 5 surprising ways the brain acts.
Your brain can do more creative work when tired
When you’re feeling fresh and rested, like early in the morning for early birds, it’s best to try and tackle demanding and analytical work such as making decisions, answering questions and solving problems.
However, if you’re needing to get creative, it’s often best to wait until you’re a bit tired. This seems strange, but it makes a lot of sense.
When you are tired, your brain is not as good as filtering distractions and focussing on a task. It’s also not great at remembering connections between ideas or concepts. This ties in well with being creative since creative thinking relies on making new connections, being open to new ideas, and thinking in new ways. As the Scientific American notes, “At off-peak times we are less focused, and may consider a broader range of information. This wider scope gives us access to more alternatives and diverse interpretations, thus fostering innovation and insight.”
Meditation can rewire your brain to work better
Meditation has been show to reduce anxiety, increase creativity and improve your memory.
When you meditate you weaken the neural connection between your bodily sensation and fear centres and the part of your brain that processes information relating to yourself and your experiences (the medial prefrontal cortex).
A study from Leiden University in the Netherlands showed that participants who took part in open-monitoring meditation performed better on a task that asked them to come up with new ideas.
Meditation has also been linked with rapid memory recall. Catherine Kerr, a researcher at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center found that people who practiced mindful meditation were able to adjust the brain wave that screens out distractions and increase their productivity more quickly that those who did not meditate. She said that this ability to ignore distractions could explain “their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.”
Meditation has also been linked to increasing compassion, decreasing stress, improving memory skills, and even increasing the amount of gray matter in the brain.
Multitasking is impossible (for men AND women)
When we think we’re multitasking we’re actually simply switching back and forth very quickly between two tasks rather than doing them at the same time. The problem with this is that we’re trying to share brain resources between two tasks, and performing worse at each as a result.
Naps improve your brain’s performance
Napping is often considered a great luxury, something to be engaged in on a Sunday afternoon perhaps. But studies show that napping can significantly improve brain performance.
In one study, participants had to memorise illustrated cards then take a 40 minute break before attempting to remember the card. The participants that napped during that time retained an average of 85% of the patterns, whereas the group that didn’t nap remembered only 60% on average.
Napping can also help to clear out your brain’s temporary storage areas, preparing the brain for new information to be absorbed.
Vision trumps all other senses
A picture is worth a thousand words. Our vision is the sense most favoured for remembering things. In fact, huge portions of the brain are dedicated to processing visual information, and if you see something you are likely to remember 65% of it 3 days later, whereas if you hear it you will only remember around 10%.
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