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
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.