Posts Tagged ‘brain’

The masters of strength train both mind and body

December 23, 2017

The brain is the most critical part of the body when it comes to strength. What we perceive as strength, or powerful muscle activation, actually begins with a thought, or neural trigger, that produces a volley of nerve impulses in the brain that travel to the muscle. The denser the thought, the denser the neural drive or activation to the muscle.

The masters of strength train these elements and harness their brain power to attain new heights in the weight room. The weaker athletes strictly train muscle.

— Stuart McGill, Ph.D.

Handwriting to get smarter

December 15, 2016

When I was a kid there were no computers. All writing was done with pencil and paper. My handwriting was beautiful. Alas, those days are gone. Now all my writing is done by pushing keys on a keyboard. Recently I’ve started doing some handwriting. Oh my, it is hard. My hand and shoulder tightens up. I cannot write for long periods. The beautiful strokes that I once made are now ugly, crude lines.

There is research which shows that there are a lot of connections between the brain and the hands. Developing new hand skills has been shown to improve cognitive skills.

I am going to spend time each day doing handwriting. I think it will make me smarter.

Factors that determine how much of your brain you use

April 23, 2016

I don’t think there is a single solution for maximizing how much of your brain you use. I think it’s a combination of many factors (there are many ways to influence the brain). Here are the key factors (I think) that determine how much of your brain you use:

  1. Exercise: how much exercise? What type of exercise? Frequency of exercise? Variability of exercise? Heavy or light? Endurance or strength? Balancing/coordination? Flexibility? Hormone-stimulating exercises? Walking? Running?
  2. Rest: how much sleep? Naps?
  3. Mental stimulation: reading? Writing? Debate? Games/puzzles?
  4. Food: fresh foods? Cooked or raw? Meat or no meat? Carbs or no carbs? Nutrient-dense? Fasting?
  5. Supplements: caffeine? Supplements that promote the flow of blood to the brain (e.g., Gingko Biloba)? Green tea? Black tea?
  6. Nature: how much time spent in a park? Frequency?
  7. Stress: no stress? Moderate amounts of stress? Massage? Foam roller? Body work?
  8. Music: how much? Classical or other?
  9. Social: lots of socializing? Lots of friends? A few close friends?
  10. Positive attitude: how to keep positive and motivated? Laughter? Smiling?
  11. Goals: short-term goals? Long-term goals?

One thing that I am fairly sure of is this: the body and brain adapt quickly. A strategy that works today for stimulating the brain will likely not work next week or next month. Constant change is crucial. Also, it seems that each human is unique. What works for me may not work for you.

The beauty and clarity that arises from being totally immersed in something

January 17, 2016

I’ve discovered that something magical occurs when I am deeply immersed in a problem. I enter into a different state of consciousness. My brain opens up and I see things that were once hidden. Beauty is revealed to me. I long to have the experience again – it is addictive.

Recently I’ve heard other people express similar sentiments:

Last week I heard on NPR someone talk about freediving.  The person being interviewed said that once he became immersed in the sport, something clicked inside him and a whole new, beautiful world opened up for him:

So even for me, who’s really comfortable in the water, it took a lot – a long time. Maybe I’m more neurotic than most. But it took a long time for me to get comfy. But then I had this one moment where it clicked for me. And I was down at about 20 meters, about 66 feet. And I didn’t have any urge to breathe. And all around me was this beautiful blue world. And I came up, and I felt so relaxed. And for that whole day, like, I’d close my eyes and I would just see that blue world. It was just something that was in my head. And I woke up the next morning just wanting to do it again. And I eventually got to a hundred feet, or 30 meters, during that course. And – but that’s something that stays with you. And that’s just me, an entry-level – that’s a level 2 free diver. I think that the effects are even greater. I know that they are even greater for these athletes that go to 100 meters. I mean, I can’t even imagine that. But they get to a place – it’s like part athletic, part spiritual. And it’s definitely addictive ’cause it’s so beautiful.

One of my favorite TV shows is Elementary (Sherlock Holmes and Watson). I think the show’s writers are geniuses. In last week’s episode Sherlock listens to a short audio clip over and over (hundreds of time perhaps). At some point in listening, something clicked inside him and he was able to recognize a new meaning from the inflection in the voice of the person in the audio clip (this enabled him to solve the mystery).

Recently I have been writing a software program. For the first few days it was frustrating. But after looking at the problem, over and over, from every conceivable angle, something clicked inside me. The frustration lifted and a calmness settled in. Things became clear in my mind. The problem, my solution, became beautiful. I thought to myself, “I can see how programming can be addictive.”

Now I realize that this sense of clarity and beauty arises whenever one completely immerses oneself into a problem, whatever the problem might be. I’ve also realized that, to experience this altered/heightened state of consciousness requires long periods of uninterrupted focus.

 

A programming language that makes you smarter

July 12, 2015

A programming language is, well, a language.

It is a formal, structured language.

It has been my experience that if one immerses oneself in a language — any formal, structured language — it influences the mind.

Hypothesis: some languages influence the mind more positively, beneficially than others.

What programming language do you feel has the most positive, beneficial influence on one’s mind and thought process?

Imprint and nurture positive habits

July 27, 2014

According to scientists, the “imprinting” of a habit can take as few as 18 days and as many as 254 days, with 66 days being the average to make the behavior automatic.

A habit grows by repetition and is imprinted in your neural pathways. Your brain changes.

Just as repeating the act builds the habit, missing an exercise session weakens it. I know that some people feel that it they don’t give 100% effort, the exercise session is “wasted”. I disagree. The lighter exercise session may not build more strength or endurance, but it helps to keep the habit intact.

Habits free us from making decisions by creating and nurturing positive, almost automatic actions.

John Balik

The more you multitask, the worse you get at thinking deeply

December 29, 2013

When Stanford professor Clifford Nass began noticing his students clacking away on computers during lecture and texting under the table in class discussions, his first reaction was envy. “I started out with jealousy seeing they could do all these things that I couldn’t,” he says, marveling at their ability to check Twitter, update their Facebook pages, and ostensibly pay attention in class all at once.

Fascinated, Nass decided to investigate: what was it about his students’ brains that made them so good at multitasking? The results shocked him. As it turned out, being surrounded by so much information wasn’t helping them multitask at all – in fact, it was making them worse at it. “They’re actually hurting themselves,” Nass says. “They’re actually doing worse along all cognitive dimensions one would expect, including the ability to multitask.”

Nass isn’t alone in coming to this conclusion. When author Nicholas Carr began noticing that his attention span became shorter and shorter the more he used the Internet, he, like Nass, dug into the research. The result was a frightening conclusion: as we attempt to multitask more, our brains adjust, optimizing for constant distraction. In the process, however, we also lose the ability to focus and think deeply.

More … http://blogs.wgbh.org/innovation-hub/2013/12/27/our-multitasking-romance/

How I overcame brain fog

July 21, 2012

13 months ago I started having brain fog.

It was a great effort to think. Seeing the light on a subject required penetrating a heavy fog in my brain.

I thought perhaps it was due to poor and insufficient sleep. So I got more and better sleep. No help. I sought help from my primary care physician. No help.

Finally, a month ago I decided to try essential oils. I went to the vitamin shop and purchased flaxseed oil, omega 3 oil, and safflower oil.

In one day my brain fog was gone!

It was amazing.

That was a month ago and still no brain fog. I take the oils every day now.

Here’s what I take. I am a big fan of the Solgar brand, so all that I mention are Solgar. (I have no affiliation with Solgar)

– Flaxseed Oil — 1250 mg
– Omega 3 — 700 mg
– Safflower oil — 3 capsules