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10 Surprising Facts About How Our Brain Works

10 Surprising Facts About How Our Brain Works | The Mind Unleashed

1. Your brain does creative work better when you’re tired

If you’re tired, your brain is not as good at filtering out distractions and focusing on a particular task. It’s also a lot less efficient at remembering connections between ideas or concepts. These are both good things when it comes to creative work, since this kind of work requires us to make new connections, be open to new ideas and think in new ways. So a tired, fuzzy brain is much more use to us when working on creative projects.

This Scientific American article explains how distractions can actually be a good thing for creative thinking:

Insight problems involve thinking outside the box. This is where susceptibility to “distraction” can be of benefit. 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.

2. Stress can change the size of your brain (and make it smaller)

I bet you didn’t know stress is actually the most common cause of changes in brain function. I was surprised to find this out when I looked into how stress affects our brains.

I also found some research that showed signs of brain size decreasing due to stress.


3. It is literally impossible for our brains to multi-task

Multi-tasking is something we’ve long been encouraged to practice, but it turns out multitasking is actually impossible. When we think we’re multi-tasking, we’re actually context-switching. That is, we’re quickly switching back-and-forth between different tasks, rather than doing them at the same time.

Research shows your error rate goes up 50 percent and it takes you twice as long to do things.

The problem with multi-tasking is that we’re splitting our brain’s resources. We’re giving less attention to each task, and probably performing worse on all of them:

When the brain tries to do two things at once, it divides and conquers, dedicating one-half of our gray matter to each task.

Here is how this looks like in reality. Whilst we try to do both Action A and Action B at the same time, our brain is never handling both simultaneously. Instead, it has to painfully switch back and forth and use important brainpower just for the switching:


4. Naps improve your brain’s day to day performanceWe’re pretty clear on how important sleep is for our brains, but what about naps? It turns out, these short bursts of sleep are actually really useful.

Improved memory=Better learning


5. Your vision trumps all other senses

Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10 percent of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65 percent.

Let’s look at this image. It shows you how much of your brain is dedicated just to vision and how it affects other parts of the brain. It’s a truly staggering amount, compared to any other areas:


6. Introversion and extroversion come from different wiring in the brain

I just recently realized that introversion and extroversion are not actually related to how outgoing or shy we are, but rather how our brains recharge.


7. We tend to like people who make mistakes moreApparently, making mistakes actually makes us more likeable, due to something called the Pratfall Effect.

8. Meditation can rewire your brain for the better

Less anxiety, More creativity, Better memory

Here is how anxiety and agitation decreases with just a 20 minute meditation session:


9. Exercise can reorganize the brain and boost your willpower

A lifetime of exercise can result in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary. Exercisers outperform couch potatoes in tests that measure long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, even so-called fluid-intelligence tasks.

10. You can make your brain think time is going slowly by doing new things


When we receive lots of new information, it takes our brains a while to process it all. The longer this processing takes, the longer that period of time feels:

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Things I didn't realize before I read what you wrote here:

1. It is literally impossible for brains to multitask.

2. Making mistakes makes us more likable.

3. You can make your brain think time is going slowly by doing new things.

Also, it was helpful to have the reminder that these things are good for the brain:

1. Naps.

2. Exercise.

3. Meditation.

However, I did not know until this article that stress makes our brains smaller.

Also, introversion and extroversion are not actually related to how outgoing or shy we are, but rather how our brains recharge.

Now I wonder if there's something we can do to recharge the brain regardless. 

At your link:

"Research has actually found that there is a difference in the brains of extroverted and introverted people in terms of how we process rewards and how our genetic makeup differs. For extroverts, their brains respond more strongly when a gamble pays off. Part of this is simply genetic, but it’s partly the difference of their dopamine systems as well.

An experiment that had people take gambles while in a brain scanner found the following:

When the gambles they took paid off, the more extroverted group showed a stronger response in two crucial brain regions: the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens.

The nucleus accumbens is part of the dopamine system, which affects how we learn, and is generally known for motivating us to search for rewards. The difference in the dopamine system in the extrovert’s brain tends to push them towards seeking out novelty, taking risks and enjoying unfamiliar or surprising situations more than others. The amygdala is responsible for processing emotional stimuli, which gives extroverts that rush of excitement when they try something highly stimulating which might overwhelm an introvert."

So, dopamine injections?

We could really use a neurologist or neuroscientist right now!  I think you need the receptors as well as the infusions.  

I think that's right -- just injecting the dopamine won't work.

Clearly this is not an easy thing to do or there would already be dopamine dosages available OTC.

I really like the picture of the right brain left brain ;)  Interesting new things to think about our brain.

Yes but it really makes me want to live in the right brain!

True, working in a cubicle seems like it would get old, but maybe they are doing very exciting stuff, like making stashes on PandaWhale ;)

Haha, Janill you make me laugh. We need a way for the right brain people to do that too!

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