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How to Optimize Your Brain: Why Refining Emotional Recall is the Secret to Better Memory

How to Optimize Your Brain: Why Refining Emotional Recall is the Secret to Better Memory
by Maria Popova “You are what you remember — your very identity depends on all of the events, people and places you can recall.” We’ve seen the many ways in which our memory can be our merciless traitor: it is not a recording device but a practitioner of creative plagiarism, a terrible timekeeper, and the bent backbone in the anatomy of lying. How, then, can this essential human faculty become our ally? In The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well (public library) — a compendium of pragmatic advice on such modern fixations and timeless aspirations as how to create a great company culture (courtesy of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh) to how to be funny (courtesy of Alec Baldwin) to how to fight for justice (courtesy of Constance Rice) — neurologist, neuropsychiatrist, and prolific brain-book author Richard Restak offers some vital tips on how to optimize your brain, central to which is honing the capacity and performance of your memory: Donating = Loving

http://www.brainpickings.org/2013/08/13/the-art-of-doing-improve-memory/

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How To Stay Sane: The Art of Revising Your Inner Storytelling “I pray to Jesus to preserve my sanity,” Jack Kerouac professed in discussing his writing routine. But those of us who fall on the more secular end of the spectrum might need a slightly more potent sanity-preservation tool than prayer. That’s precisely what writer and psychotherapist Philippa Perry offers in How To Stay Sane (public library), part of The School of Life’s wonderful series reclaiming the traditional self-help genre as intelligent, non-self-helpy, yet immensely helpful guides to modern living. At the heart of Perry’s argument — in line with neurologist Oliver Sacks’s recent meditation on memory and how “narrative truth,” rather than “historical truth,” shapes our impression of the world — is the recognition that stories make us human and learning to reframe our interpretations of reality is key to our experience of life: Our stories give shape to our inchoate, disparate, fleeting impressions of everyday life. Perry concludes:

The Sensitive Doer Sensitive Doers are gentle, modest and reserved persons. They cope well with everyday life and like their privacy. With their quiet, optimistic nature, they are also good, sought-after listeners and other people feel well in their company. Are there emotional no-go areas where logic dare not show its face? by Richard Dawkins Are there kingdoms of emotion where logic is taboo, dare not show its face, zones where reason is too intimidated to speak? Moral philosophers make full use of the technique of thought experiment. The Science of Dreams and Why We Have Nightmares by Maria Popova The psychology of our built-in nocturnal therapy. “The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind,” Freud argued in his influential treatise The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900. “The earth is heavy and opaque without dreams,” Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary in 1940.

The Master and His Emissary The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World is a 2009 book written by Iain McGilchrist that deals with the specialist hemispheric functioning of the brain. The differing world views of the right and left brain (the "Master" and "emissary" in the title, respectively) have, according to the author, shaped Western culture since the time of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, and the growing conflict between these views has implications for the way the modern world is changing.[1] In part, McGilchrist's book, which is the product of twenty years of research,[2] reviews the evidence of previous related research and theories, and based on this and cultural evidence, the author arrives at his own conclusions. The Master and His Emissary received mostly favourable reviews upon its publication.

The Backfire Effect: The Psychology of Why We Have a Hard Time Changing Our Minds by Maria Popova How the disconnect between information and insight explains our dangerous self-righteousness. “Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind,” I wrote in reflecting on the 7 most important things I learned in 7 years of Brain Pickings. It’s a conundrum most of us grapple with — on the one hand, the awareness that personal growth means transcending our smaller selves as we reach for a more dimensional, intelligent, and enlightened understanding of the world, and on the other hand, the excruciating growing pains of evolving or completely abandoning our former, more inferior beliefs as we integrate new knowledge and insight into our comprehension of how life works. That discomfort, in fact, can be so intolerable that we often go to great lengths to disguise or deny our changing beliefs by paying less attention to information that contradicts our present convictions and more to that which confirms them. So where does this leave us?

5 Strategies to Read People’s Emotional Energy Emotions are a stunning expression of our energy, the “vibe” we give off. We register these with intuition. Some people feel good to be around; they improve your mood and vitality. Others are draining; you instinctively want to get away. This “subtle energy” can be felt inches or feet from the body, though it‘s invisible. Indigenous cultures honour this energy as life force.

The Science of "Chunking," Working Memory, and How Pattern Recognition Fuels Creativity by Maria Popova “Generating interesting connections between disparate subjects is what makes art so fascinating to create and to view… We are forced to contemplate a new, higher pattern that binds lower ones together.” It seems to be the season for fascinating meditations on consciousness, exploring such questions as what happens while we sleep, how complex cognition evolved, and why the world exists. Joining them and prior explorations of what it means to be human is The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning (public library) by Cambridge neuroscientist Daniel Bor in which, among other things, he sheds light on how our species’ penchant for pattern-recognition is essential to consciousness and our entire experience of life. To illustrate the power of chunking, Bor gives an astounding example of how one man was able to use this mental mechanism in greatly expanding the capacity of his working memory.

Your Mind & Body Are Not Separate For more: This isn’t news to anyone, right? We talk about feeling things in “our guts.” The Science of How Memory Works by Maria Popova What the four “slave” systems of the mind have to do with riding a bicycle. “Whatever becomes of [old memories], in the long intervals of consciousness?” Henry James wistfully pondered upon turning fifty. “They are like the lines of a letter written in sympathetic ink; hold the letter to the fire for a while and the grateful warmth brings out the invisible words.”

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