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Tagged ‘neuroscience‘

Why We Procrastinate?

It is not an unusual phenomenon for people to procrastinate about a task in hand. For instance, many students procrastinate until the day before exams and submissions in completing revision and journals. So, people resort to procrastination whenever they are intimidated by inundating tasks that they fail to process in their heads. Vik Nithy, a 21 year-old entrepreneur who is yet a student gives tips in this 9-minute talk to tackle procrastination. As per Vik, procrastination is a behavioral trait, associated with the human brain. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is designed to be decisive and therefore, gives an appropriate response to a particular situation. However, the limbic system of the brain pushes you to procrastinate by mitigating your motivation to work. The solution to this tug-of-war lies with the functioning of the amygdala of the brain that is responsible for memory processing, controlling fear and anxieties and, designing emotional responses and decision making abilities in a person. For instance, standing with an incomplete project in front of your angry professor past the project submission date, makes you freeze. That is a classic emotional response designed by the amygdala in your brain. To beat procrastination, Vik emphasizes on meta-cognition, which essentially means thinking about thinking. This strategy involves planning short term and long term goals with time frames, planning the process and visualizing it in your head, planning resources, planning distractions and importantly, planning to cope with failures and move ahead.

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Neuroplasticity: Our Brain Can Change, by Michael Merzenich

The brain is technically designed to change, to adapt and to evolve continuously. In this 23 minute TED Talk, Michael Merzenich, a renowned neuroscientist, explains the incredible powers of brain plasticity. Brain plasticity, explains Merzenich, is a remarkable ability to register massive information and adapt spontaneously to the various changes in the environment around. The two epochs of brain plasticity are the infant critical period (when the brain sets up basic processing machinery) and adult plasticity (when the brain rewires its machinery to master a wide repertoire of skills and abilities). Brain plasticity re-affirms that the brain learns to selectively alter the perception of inputs, albeit the environmental conditioning. Also, cortical processing in the brain is always in sync with the behavioral inputs, depending on environmental changes. Brain plasticity can be acquired over prolonged training sessions, to enhance cognitive skills and recover lost functions in children and aged people suffering from mental afflictions like autism and schizophrenia.

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Memory vs. Experience, by Daniel Kahneman

Happiness is a state of mind. But, conditions apply. Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate and founder of Behavioral Economics, asks: “Are you happy in your life?” OR, “Are you happy about your life?” Kahneman delves further into the inconspicuous riddle that camouflages the thin line of difference between an experience driven happiness and a memory driven one. He deduces that people are more likely to determine the happiness quotient based on memories of experience rather than the experience itself. He explains this with an example, where two patients underwent colonoscopy at the same time. One was in intense pain for a few minutes while the other experienced pain with varying intensities for more time. For an onlooker, it is obvious that the patient in pain for more time suffered more. However for the patients themselves, their experience of pain now etched as memories made them think differently. The one, who experienced pain for fewer minutes, felt the memory of pain more strongly than the other. Although life is all what happens during an experience, the memory of the experience latches to a person strongly. Which is why, memories influence the thought process in a person in a very powerful manner. Watch this interesting video to understand the conundrum of experience and memory and the happiness quotient. If you are interested in learning more from Daniel Kahneman you can read our article titled after his famous book Thinking, Fast And Slow.

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Thinking, Fast And Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

“Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.”

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Why is it that sometimes we behave rationally and go through a thorough thought process before making decisions, while at other times we act in an impulsive way? How can we combine a strong intuition with rigorous analysis for decision-making?

Understanding how our mind works is fascinating given the complexities of our brain. However, it is also necessary in order to be able to take good advantage of it, to put it to our service and influence how we behave. In his outstanding book Thinking, Fast And Slow, Daniel Kahneman does a remarkable job at addressing those issues and more. Kahneman is a Senior Scholar at Princeton University, Emeritus Professor of Public Affairs at Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002.

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Incognito, by David Eagleman

Incognito, by David Eagleman

Incognito, by David Eagleman

“The brain runs its own show incognito.”

We tend to think that we choose what we like, and we decide what we do. We believe that we are in command, that we are the captains of our lives. But in reality, we only control a tiny bit of what is going on in our mind. Our free will is only a very small fraction of what we think it is, or what we would like it to be.

In Incognito, neuroscientist and writer David Eagleman does a fantastic job of explaining the workings of the beautiful and mysterious machine that lies within us: our brain.

Physical Changes To The Brain Affect Our Thought Process

In his book, Eagleman explains that the physical dimension has a prominent role to play in defining our thoughts, our behavior, and ultimately who we are. Read more ⇉

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You Are Your Biology

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He writes and gives conferences about the workings of the human brain – the unconscious brain, in particular.

In the following 22 minute TED Talk, Eagleman explains some of the most prominent aspects described in detail in his fascinating book Incognito. According to Eagleman, “you are tied to your biology”, your unconscious mind drives most of your life, and your conscious mind is only aware of a tiny bit of what is actually going on. Moreover, you can hardly influence what and who you like. In summary, your free will is very limited and your brain “runs its own show incognito”.

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The Power Of The Right Brain

Jill Bolte Taylor

Jill Bolte Taylor

In the 18 minute TED video that follows, neuro-anatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor shares her insights into the working of a human brain. These insights are a result of extensive research and her personal experience when she suffered a massive stroke at the age of 37.

The Two Personalities Of Our Brain

Dr. Taylor explains that the brain is divided into two hemispheres, each having distinct personalities. The right hemisphere is concerned with sensory perceptions of the present moment. Since its approach is more intuitive and creative, it offers various possibilities to us in Read more ⇉

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