neuroscience

More Like Working Out

More Like Working Out

“When people go to the gym, for example, they know pretty much what’s going to happen, and how it’s going to happen. Lifting weights causes muscles to stretch and even tear a little, causing lactic acid to build up, causing the muscles to rebuild themselves bigger and with more capacity than they had before. It’s a physical process, and while trainers will debate the best methods until the end of time, the basic operation is clearly understood.

Meditation is similar. If you do the work, predictable changes in the mind and the brain tend to result, in a fairly reliable way. This, in a sense, is the very opposite of spirituality—and it’s certainly not religion either. It’s more like working out: Each time I come back to the breath, I’m strengthening very specific neural networks.”

~ Jay Michaelson

The Tug-of-War Between Routine and Novelty

The Tug-of-War Between Routine and Novelty

"Brains seek a balance between exploiting the knowledge we’ve earned and exploring new surprises. In developing over eons, brains have gotten this tension well balanced – an exploration/exploitation tradeoff that strikes the balance between flexibility and rigor. Too much predictability and we tune out; too much surprise and we become disoriented. We live in a constant tug-of-war between routine and novelty. Creativity lies within that tension."

~ David Eagleman

Continuously Unfolding Nonlinear Narrative

Continuously Unfolding Nonlinear Narrative

"The entire orchestration of the symphony of mind unfolds like changes in a music score, and while there is no single, master conductor, the decentralized process does have hot spots of top-down modulation linked by connections built over evolutionary time."

~ Antonio Damasio

Anderson Cooper Learns to Love Silence

Anderson Cooper Learns to Love Silence

On a mindfulness retreat, Anderson Cooper puts down the microphone and learns to love silence, as well as life without a cell phone.

More Time to Play

More Time to Play

"Educators are worried that you need that content for the exams that you're going to take, but what's more important is that you should want to learn. What's more important is for you to know how to find that information if you need it. What's more important is for you to learn how to problem solve and use that information." ~ Adele Diamond

A Little Practice Can Go a Long Way

A Little Practice Can Go a Long Way

"If you've put off practicing meditation because you envision that it requires long periods of practice before realizing any benefit, take heart: These studies show even a short period a day—probably less than what you spend surfing the Internet—increases your cognitive judgment and your emotional resilience." ~ Doubglas LaBier

Training Individual and Collective Adaptive Capacities

"It's really important to be able to come back to the present moment. This is where change can happen. This is not just adaptive capacity for individuals, but it resonates out to collective adaptive capacity: more resilient organizations, more resilient communities, more dynamic, flexible institutions. These are the capcities that can face any possible future. We don't have to be able to predict, because we can't. Humans can't. But then we can really show up and meet any experience."

~ Dr. Elizabeth Stanley, from "Optimizing the Caveman within Us," TEDx Talks, October 2013   


See also:

  • Mind Fitness Training
  • "The Biology of Risk," by John Coates, The New York Times, June 7, 2014 
  • Clark, T. (2011). Nerve: Poise under pressure, serenity under stress, and the brave new science of fear and cool. New York: Little, Brown and Company. (library)
  • Linden, D. J. (2008). The accidental mind: How brain evolution has given us love, memory, dreams, and God. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap. (library)
  • Ryan, T. (2012). A mindful nation: How a simple practice can help us reduce stress, improve performance, and recapture the American spirit. Carlsbad, California: Hay House. (library)
  • Stanley, E. A. (2009). Paths to peace: Domestic coalition shifts, war termination and the Korean War. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press. (library)

Perfect Practice

"Perhaps we can even start to use these types of techniques to help people train, to provide this mental mirror so they can see what their brain is doing when they're trying to learn how to do techniques like meditation—which might be simple, but not particularly easy to do. As Vince Lombardi says, 'Practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.' Maybe we can use this neurofeedback as a way to help people practice perfectly."

~ Dr. Judson Brewer

Fake It till You Become It

"Don't fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it. You know? Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize...Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes. 

So this is two minutes. Two minutes, two minutes, two minutes. Before you go into the next stressful evaluative situation, for two minutes, try doing this, in the elevator, in a bathroom stall, at your desk behind closed doors. That's what you want to do.

Configure your brain to cope the best in that situation. Get your testosterone up. Get your cortisol down. Don't leave that situation feeling like, oh, I didn't show them who I am. Leave that situation feeling like, oh, I really feel like I got to say who I am and show who I am."

~ Amy Cuddy, from "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are," TEDGlobal 2012


See also:

Carney, D. R., Cuddy, A. J., & Yap, A. J. (January 01, 2010). Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological Science, 21(10), 1363-8. http://bit.ly/1kQNCwe 

Stories are Powerful

"Stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds, but in doing that, they change the way our brains work and potentially change our brain chemistry. And that’s what it means to be a social creature—to connect with others, to care about others, even complete strangers. It's so interesting that dramatic stories cause us to do this."

~ Paul Zak  director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies and author of The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity

See also: "Trust, morality — and oxytocin?" In this TED Talk, neuroeconomist Paul Zak shows why he believes oxytocin (he calls it "the moral molecule") is responsible for trust, empathy and other feelings that help build a stable society.