Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the tag “Neuroscience”

Plasticity, Mind Power and the Human Brain

My approach to learning and development has materially changed over the last three years. I used to view myself on a gradual decline since the peak of degrees and professional qualification learning in my early 20’s. I accepted the ‘more brain cells die than grow when you’ve hit adulthood’ type of argument. I also used to think of new behaviours/ skills and knowledge as being left-brain learned and retained in memory. That the majority of permanent, hard-wired change had taken place during early development.

Plasticity has changed all that. It is defined by the excellent Franklin Institute resource on The Human Brain as ‘the tendency of the brain to shape itself according to experience… plasticity is the basic mental drive that networks your brain, giving you cognition and memory – fluidity, versatility, and adaptability’. Many neuroscientists now believe that the brain changes at a structural level when you learn new skills or have experiences that are sufficiently new that they need you to store the memory differently. Effectively, the density of the connections and pathways in your brain increases; your brain isn’t slowly dieing if you keep it stimulated.

Can you apply the theory of plasticity to changing behaviours, habits and ways of thinking? So, harness the power of your mind and its plastic properties to be a ‘different you’? I think the answer is yes, as long as the fundamentals of focus, consistency, persistency and action are applied. What do I mean? Read more…

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Imagining is a Human Core Competence

The phenomenal self model (PSM) is ‘the conscious model of the organism as a whole that is activated by the brain’. Thomas Metzinger’s ‘The Ego Tunnel – the Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self’ refers to it as ‘probably one of nature’s best inventions’

‘Whenever our brains successfully pursue the ingenious strategy of creating a unified and dynamic inner portrait of reality, we become conscious’

‘First, our brains generate a world-simulation, so perfect that we do not recognise it as an image in our minds. Then, they generate an inner image of ourselves as a whole. This image includes not only our body and our psychological states but also our relationship to the past and the future, as well as to other conscious beings’

My marginalia at this point in my first reading of the book explodes. One of my long-term passions (and the core objective of this blog) is to investigate the relationship between the conscious mind and other-than-consciousness in relation to vision and goal-setting. I was immediately struck by Metzinger’s words above because of the sophistication that it infers the brain must have in the areas of image creation, belief and subsequent thoughts and actions reliant on the images and vision created. Some inter-linked areas I’ve explored:

What Could You Do in the Future With Your Imagination Now? illustrates the MRI scans from a brain remembering and imagining: the same areas are used.

How The Different Parts of The Brain Help Vision and Goal-Setting is my earlier, formative attempt to start to pull the findings of neuroscience into the vision area.

NLP, Modelling and Scenario Planning looked at the area from a business planning perspective following a great article by Ram Charan.

In Seth Godin’s compilation ebook, What Matters Now, Michael Hyatt writes about vision: ‘Leadership is more than influence. It is about reminding people of what it is we are trying to build—and why it matters. It is about painting a picture of a better future.

So, one conclusion to draw is that one of our core competences as Homo sapiens is the ability to imagine – to become conscious by creating a ‘inner portrait of reality’ – and then to project forward future realities.

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Are We Getting Better at Thinking?…and Innovating?

For all the talk of the evils of the web in terms of driving us to attention deficit/ dispersal, a few areas I’ve been reading have glued together in my head which may make a case for the opposition:

First, in a fantastic book on writing powerfully for business: We, Me, Them & It,  John Simmons makes a point, ‘For as long as I can remember I’ve used writing to sort out my thinking’

I’ve been toying round with a way of prioritising my time – personally and at work – around 5Cs: Create, Connect and Collaborate, Communicate and Consume. So in that order, I try and allocate any time I have to ensure I’m not just consuming or communicating. Since I restarted writing and refocusing on creativity nearly sixteen months ago, I’ve probably never been happier. I’ve argued to others that it makes my brain feel fresher and more flexible. The act of creation is satisfying, and I feel that I think better as a result of forcing myself to articulate things better – even when I play with words or ‘dump’ thoughts without much structure. I find this unblocks my thinking. Read more…

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