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Brainwriting and the Latest Brain Research

What's better than brainstorming? You're about to find out in this collection of short reports on brain-related artciles and posts I recently found online. Let's get started with how to surgically improve your brain...

Building a Super Brain

Kurzweilai.net reported on research into neuronal stem cell grafts. Done on mice, the cells "became fully and functionally integrated into the brain, creating synapses and glial cells." In other words, we are getting closer to being able to make our brains better surgically.

BigThink.com reported on the implantation of neuronal chips in the brain. Apparently they helped their recipients form long-term memories. Maybe if we put together neuronal stem cell grafts with computer chips we can soon have a super brain.

Brainstorming a New Way

FastCompany.com had an interesting article about brainstorming. It is suggested that traditional brainstorming, in part because of "conformity pressure," favors the first ideas put forth, and so produces fewer creative ideas than.... brainwriting. What is "brainwriting?" It's essentially a different way to brainstorm. Participants first write down all of their ideas, and only then do they come together to discuss them.

It's noted that one study showed brainwriting produced 20% more ideas than traditional brainstorming. More importantly, it produced 42% more ideas defined as "original." So the lesson is: think and write first and talk later.

The Voices Within Us

TheAtlantic.com had an article about the latest research into spirituality and the bran. Specifically, it looked at what happens during spiritual experiences. There are two distinct kinds of experiences considered.

The first include all the practices that rely on concentration, like prayer or mantra-based meditation. These activities activate the frontal lobes, which modulate behavior, direct attention, and are used for language.

The second include practices that involve surrendering one's will, like speaking in tongues or letting the "spirit" take over one's body. Frontal lobe activity decreases in these cases, while activity in the thalamus increases. The thalamus regulates sensory information that comes in to many other parts of the brain.

Because of this shift away from the frontal lobes, the speech generated during these second type of experiences is suspected to come from someplace other than normal speech centers in the brain. Religious people might find this to be evidence that an outside entity is speaking through the person but, of course, nonbelievers tend to look for neurological explanations.

Asleep But Still Working

Kurzweilai.net says the latest research into brain activity during sleep shows we can keep learning while sleeping. Brain scans demonstrated that study participants were able to properly classify words as animals or objects while asleep, although their response time was slower.


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