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Naps on the weekend don't really make up for pulling droopy-eyed all-nighters. The widely held notion that you can pay back a "sleep debt" may be a myth. Mice forced to sleep like shift workers had heavy damage in a key group of nerve cells. Scientists want to study deceased shift workers to see if they suffered similar damage.

Shift workers beware: Sleep loss may cause brain damage, new research says (cnn.com/2014/03/19/health/sleep-loss-brain-damage/)

Thomas Edison and the Cult of Sleep Deprivation The man who gave us the incandescent light bulb thought we should never turn out the lights at all.

(CNN) -- Are you a truck driver or shift worker planning to catch up on some sleep this weekend? Cramming in extra hours of shut-eye may not make up for those lost pulling all-nighters, new research indicates. The damage may already be done -- brain damage, that is, said neuroscientist Sigrid Veasey from the University of Pennsylvania.

The widely held idea that you can pay back a sizeable "sleep debt" with long naps later on seems to be a myth, she said in a study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience. Long-term sleep deprivation saps the brain of power even after days of recovery sleep, Veasey said. And that could be a sign of lasting brain injury. Veasey and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania medical school wanted to find out, so, they put laboratory mice on a wonky sleep schedule that mirrors that of shift workers. They let them snooze, then woke them up for short periods and for long ones. Then the scientists looked at their brains -- more specifically, at a bundle of nerve cells they say is associated with alertness and cognitive function, the locus coeruleus. They found damage and lots of it. "The mice lose 25% of these neurons," Veasey said. This is how the scientists think it happened. When the mice lost a little sleep, nerve cells reacted by making more of a protein, called sirtuin type 3, to energize and protect them. But when losing sleep became a habit, that reaction shut down. After just a few days of "shift work" sleep, the cells start dying off at an accelerated pace. The discovery that long-term sleep loss can result in a loss of brain cells is a first, Veasey said. "No one really thought that the brain could be irreversibly injured from sleep loss," she said. That has now changed. More work needs to be done on humans, she said. And her group is planning to study deceased shift workers to see if they have the same kind of nerve damage. They hope their research will result in medicines that will help people working odd hours cope with the consequences of irregular sleep. How dangerous is sleep deprivation?

Change your mood ...

There is strong scientific evidence from the University of California that people can change mood by changing their facial expression, posture, and movement to reflect a different emotion than the one that they are currently experiencing. For example, if you feel down, you can act as if you were happy and the brain seems to follow!

The patterns of nerve action and muscle that create an outward expression of happiness trigger neurological changes that make your brain happier in reality! A fake smile on your face has been shown to increase heart rate, finger temperature, and stimulate the part of the left frontal cortex associated with spontaneous joy.

Why Do You Call Me a Genius? - Brain Bulletin #61

Genius is not a thing, it is a process.

"A Genius is the art of none habitual thinking."

...We have all been trained to avoid mistakes. The goal in school is to get 100%, no mistakes, get an "A". In business we hire for perfect, manage for perfect, and reward for perfect. It is any wonder most of our work is standardized, doesn't tell a story, and is not worth talking about.

Genius is actually quite a messy business. We have all been told to think outside the box. But that's not what genius is. Genius is thinking along the edge of the box. That's where the audience is and that's where things get done. That's where you will make an impact and create your story!

Genius are not born but become Geniuses through hard work

Picture a "genius" - you'll probably conjure an image of an Einstein-like character, an older man in a rumpled suit, disorganized and distracted even as he, almost accidentally, stumbles upon his next "big idea." In truth, the acclaimed scientist actually said, "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." But the narrative around Einstein and a lot of accomplished geniuses - think Ben Franklin, the key and the bolt of lightning - tends to focus more on mind-blowing talent and less on the hard work behind the rise to success. A downside of the genius mythology results in many kids trudging through school believing that a great student is born, not made - lucky or unlucky, Einstein or Everyman.

Harvard-educated tutors Hunter Maats and Katie O'Brien began to notice that this belief about being born smart was creating a lot of frustration for the kids they tutored, and sometimes unwittingly reinforced by their parents. "We had sessions working with a student where the mom would walk by and say, 'Oh, he didn't get the math gene!'" said O’Brien. "And I'd think, Gee, give the kid a reason to never even try."

So would you like to be more creative than you are right now? Here are 10 strategies for increasing your level of creativity.

"Try," it seems, is the magical and operative word that has the possibility to transform how well a student does in school - once they understand a little about how to try, and a little about how learning and the brain works. How students think about learning makes a difference in what they're able to achieve. Groundbreaking research conducted by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has shown that when students take on a growth mindset - one in which they believe that the brain is malleable, and they can improve at a task with effort - they handle setbacks better and improve academically.

  1. Truly creative people have developed their ability to observe and to use all of their senses, which can get dull over time. Take time to "sharpen the blade" and take everything in.
  2. Innovation is based on knowledge. Therefore, you need to continually expand your knowledge base. Read things you don't normally read.
  3. Your perceptions may limit your reasoning. Be careful about how you're perceiving things. In other words, defer judgment.
  4. Practice guided imagery so you can "see" a concept come to life.
  5. Let your ideas "incubate" by taking a break from them. For example, when I’m working on a big business project, one of the best things I can do to take a break from it is play my guitar or the flute for a few minutes, or take a ride on my motorcycle. It shifts my brain into another place and helps me be more innovative and creative.
  6. Experience as much as you can. Exposure puts more ideas into your subconscious. Actively seek out new experiences to broaden your experience portfolio.
  7. Treat patterns as part of the problem. Recognizing a new pattern is very useful, but be careful not to become part of it.
  8. Redefine the problem completely. One of the lines I've been sharing for the past few decades is: "Your problem is not the problem; there is another problem. When you define the real problem, you can solve it and move on." After all, if you had correctly defined the real problem, you would have solved it long ago because all problems have solutions.
  9. Look where others aren't looking to see what others aren't seeing.
  10. Come up with ideas at the beginning of the innovation process ... and then stop. Many times we come up with several ideas and start innovating, and then we come up with more ideas and never get any single idea done. At some point you have to turn off the idea generation part of the process and really work on the innovation and execution part in order to bring a project to life.

No matter what your expertise or what industry you're in, you can become a lot more creative in what you do. In fact, when you apply creativity to every aspect of your business, you are able to stay ahead of a changing marketplace and the competition, and attain long-term success.

Because that's How You See Yourself

..in Brain Bulletin

You don't perceive a reality as it really is. You perceive a reality as it is constructed by your own mind. Henri-Louis Bergson stated, "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." He was right. Your brain thinks in pictures, not words.

Close your eyes for a moment and think of a tomato. Notice that you saw a picture of a 'tomato'. It was probably red. You didn't see the letters 't-o-m-a-t-o' floating nowhere in space. This picture was created in the occipital lobe of your brain. Metaphorically, we call this "the mind's eye".
These pictures in your mind's eye are a very big deal.

Scientists, for years, have speculated that the act of seeing things in your mind's eye uses the same brain circuits that you use when seeing things with your physical eyes. Brains scans now show this to be true.

The mind's eye really does exist and it shapes your version of reality. Your brain engages with your environment by connecting incoming stimuli with what is already stored in your brain. Most likely the dominant picture.
You check your Facebook pictures, the family album...when was the last time you mindfully checked the pictures in your brain? It is difficult to overstate the importance of this. Napoleon Hill once said, "You become what you think about." This is a powerful thought.

Your brain is a thought producing machine. Thoughts are real forces. Thoughts produce pictures in your brain. These pictures are more powerful than you suspect. Any picture that is held in the mind's eye is a force that will eventually produce an effect. And remember, thoughts that are emotionalized become magnetized. They attract similar thoughts.

Put the exact pictures you want in your brain. Once or twice won't do it. Put them there over and over again. Then watch things change.

Would your brain pass the Marshmallow Test? in Brain Bulletin

It has to do with a particular part of the brain called the anterior prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that helps you manage complex problems and simultaneous goals which leads to better self control.

It turns out that scientists can see the future by using marshmallows.

Four-year-old children are brought into a plain room and a single marshmallow is placed in front of them. They are told that they can eat it straight away, or if they wait for a while they will get two marshmallows. They children are then left alone. Some eat right away and some wait.

Science then waits for the kids to grow up.

"By the time the children reach high school, something remarkable has happened. A survey of the children's parents and teachers found that those who as four-year-olds had the fortitude to hold out for the second marshmallow grew to be better adjusted, more popular, adventurous, confident, and dependable teenagers. The children who gave in to temptation early on were more likely to be lonely, easily frustrated, and stubborn, They buckled under stress and shied away from challenges. And when some of the kids in the two groups took the SAT, the kids who had held out longer scored and average of 210 points higher." Time Magazine.

Yale University conducted research on adults and found the same results.

These findings clearly have huge implications for parents, leaders, teachers, and all of us. Delayed gratification can be learned at any age. The benefits are immense.

The Brain how it works and how to improve it

Here is one place where I find interesting things about the brain:
This link has 100 Brain Bulletins. Brain tips for: Jan.2016, Feb.2016...

Here are a few I really like:

Other interesting info.

The Reason Multitasking Can't Be Done Well!

"Listening to a lecture while texting, or doing homework and being on Facebook --- each of these tasks is very demanding, and each of these, uses the same area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex."

It's been amply demonstrated that the brain can't multitask its attention. Because working memory is so small, we can't process two streams of thought at the same time. Our brains switch back and forth between the two tasks and when we do this, we lose time, energy, accuracy, and quality.
(Taken from: Mastering Your Multitasking)

Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth. The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time. At first that might sound confusing; at one level,  the brain does multitask. You can walk and talk at the same time. Your brain controls your heartbeat while you read a book. Pianists can play a piece with left hand and right hand simultaneously. Surely this is multitasking. But I am talking about the brain’s ability to pay attention. It is the resource you forcibly deploy while trying to listen to a boring lecture at school. It is the activity that collapses, as your brain wanders during a tedious presentation at work. This attentional ability is not capable of multitasking.
(Taken from: The brain cannot multitask)

You become what you pay attention to. What captures your attention controls your brain, and your life. Learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think of. It means being conscious and aware enough, to choose what you pay attention to.

How is your fluid intelligence?

in Brain Bulletin

Fluid intelligence is your ability to reason and solve problems.
It is critical in leadership, parenting, and learning. Strong fluid intelligence is essential in healthy relationships as well.

Neuroscientists have discovered that your brain can get a lot better at this.

Researchers: Brain Exercises That Improve Working Memory Also Increase Intelligence.

An intense game of Concentration or other demanding memory task might kick your intelligence up a notch or two, and the more you engage your brain this way, the smarter you might become. So they had to prove it.

Researchers reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences say that brain exercises designed to improve working memory also increase scores in fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence is the ability to reason and solve new problems. It does not rely on memory and is often thought of as having a strong hereditary component. Such intelligence is considered one of the most important factors in learning and is linked to academic and professional success, according to researchers.

Scientists have theorized that working memory and fluid intelligence share a common thread: Both seem to rely on similar neural networks. With this concept in mind, Jaeggi investigated whether they could improve one's fluid intelligence by means of a working memory task. Here's the proof.

For the study, healthy adult volunteers (average age: 26) completed a standard test for fluid intelligence and then performed a series of training exercises designed to improve their working memory. The researchers divided the volunteers into four groups; each group repeated the exercises over a different number of days.

Jaeggi's team retested the volunteers' fluid intelligence after the training and compared the scores to those who did not receive training. They noted a significant improvement in fluid intelligence scores among those who participated in the demanding memory tasks. There were greater improvements seen in those who spent the most time training.

"We demonstrate that the extent of gain in intelligence critically depends on the amount of training: the more training, the more improvement in [fluid intelligence]," the researchers write in the journal article.

The team says their findings suggest that such memory training appears to strengthen the brain's many "executive processes" responsible for problem solving. The score improvements were not due to pre-existing individual differences in fluid intelligence.

The idea that it's possible to improve fluid intelligence without directly practicing on tests themselves opens a wide range of applications in education, according to the researchers.

Fast Time and the Aging Mind

AH, the languorous days of endless summer! Who among us doesn't remember those days and wonder wistfully where they've gone? Why does time seem to speed up as we age? Even the summer solstice - the longest, sunniest day of the year - seems to have passed in a flash.

No less than the great William James opined on the matter, thinking that the apparent speed of time's passage was a result of adults' experiencing fewer memorable events:

"Each passing year converts some of this experience into automatic routine which we hardly note at all, the days and the weeks smooth themselves out in recollection to contentless units, and the years grow hollow and collapse."

Studies have shown that the greater the cognitive demands of a task, the longer its duration is perceived to be. Dr. David Eagleman at Baylor College of Medicine found that repeated stimuli appear briefer in duration than novel stimuli of equal duration. Is it possible that learning new things might slow down our internal sense of time?

"Of course, you can see this in everyday life," says Eagleman, "when you drive to your new workplace for the first time and it seems to take a really long time to get there. But when you drive back and forth to your work every day after that, it takes no time at all, because you're not really writing it down anymore. There's nothing novel about it."

That may be because the brain records new experiences - especially novel and exciting experiences - differently. This is even measurable. Eagleman's lab has found that brains use more energy to represent a memory when the memory is novel.

But, who said that novel experiences belong exclusively to the young?

Older people have novel experiences - lots of them. Some of us have crazier middle ages than youths (Parts of the above taken from).

If we have an illusion about time speeding up, the distortion could signal that we might squeeze more out of life. So it's simple: if you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; take a new route to work; vacation at an unknown spot. And take your sweet time about it.

Science shows that
time really does fly as you age

While you can't change much about the biological aspects of aging, you can force yourself out of your typical routine, and slow down time when you want to, using a few techniques.

For very good reason, our brains want to conserve energy (compared to other animals, human brains use a lot of calories to run). So, once we have gotten used to something - a route to work, doing the dishes or getting dressed in the morning, for example - we start to do it on autopilot, and cease noticing many of the small things that make one day different from another. This makes time seem to pass much more quickly, since fewer unique moments are being recorded by your brain.

When you are a small child, everything is new, and most days are a learning experience, so your brain is rarely on "auto" and you notice much more, leading to time seeming much slower. The more attention paid to each moment, the slower time seems to pass (which makes sense, if you think about it).

While you can't change much about the biological aspects of aging, you can force yourself out of your typical routine, and slow down time when you want to, using a few techniques.

Elevate your daily experiences: Whatever it is that brings you into the moment (I favour time in nature and experiencing art), do more of those things. Playing with your kids without any distractions, cooking a meal from scratch or listening to a piece of music (not while reading, not while cleaning, just listening) are other ideas that will ground you in the now, create new memories and slow down time.

Do new stuff: Remember the routines above? Shake them up. Get up early one morning and take yourself to breakfast; go to a movie after work; take a long lunch and go window-shopping downtown; don’t turn the TV on before bed and read or write instead. Changing up what you usually do will cause you to notice new things and see the world with a new perspective that's refreshing.

Quit multi-tasking: Not focusing on the task at hand is the easiest way to lose time. If you are throwing together dinner while helping your kids with homework, while chatting to your friend, you probably won't remember doing any of those things. Try doing one thing at a time - this might require practice if you are used to doing many things at once - and see how you remember the day later.

New Study Shows
Humans Are on Autopilot Nearly Half the Time

Published on November 14, 2010 by David Rock in Your Brain at Work

A new study by Daniel Gilbert (who wrote a great book called 'Stumbling on Happiness') and Matthew Killingsworth, confirms something we've all suspected: most of us are 'mentally checked out' a good portion of the time.

It turns out that just under half the time, 46.9% to be exact, people are doing what's called 'mind wandering'. They are not focused on the outside world or the task at hand, they are looking into their own thoughts (in their own little bubble). Unfortunately, the study of 2,250 people proposes, most of this activity doesn't make us feel happy.

Researchers found that people were at their happiest when making love, exercising, or engaging in conversation. They were least happy when resting, working, or using a home computer.

People reported that they mind wandered no less than 30% of the time, during everything except love making. And here's the kicker: people report being unhappy during mind wandering. Something that we do nearly half the time makes us unhappy!

... The article is long but whole article can be found at the above link. ... However here is more info ...

A series of other studies has found that these two circuits, narrative and direct experience, are inversely correlated. In other words, if you think about an upcoming meeting while you wash dishes, you are more likely to overlook a broken glass and cut your hand, because the brain map involved in visual perception is less active when the narrative map is activated. You don't see as much (or hear as much, or feel as much, or sense anything as much) when you are lost in thought. Sadly, even a beer doesn't taste as good in this state.

More from this article at the above link.


More information on the brain plus links.