How to Enhance Your Mind with Simple Learning Hacks

How to Enhance Your Mind with Simple #Learning Hacks

Admission: Memory is not my natural strong suit. Fortunately, brain-research has validated some simple practices that measurably enhance anyone's memory.

The truth is, most humans have poor memory. Why? A big reason is that our normal awareness is extremely limited. Most people can only hold 4-7 tiny bits of information in working memory at a time.

Want to see if you can do better?
Take a glance at this set of numbers:

 

 1 – 8 – 6 – 2 – 5 – 5 – 5 – 6 – 3 – 5 - 7

 


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Now close your eyes and try to recall the numbers. If you can, congratulations! Only 1% of people can do this. This is because the brain is trying to take in 11 chunks of information instead of 4-7.

Let’s look at the number a different way: 800-555-6357. When we look at it as a phone number, it becomes much easier to remember. When we chunk information effectively, our memory expands.

That said, our brain’s frontal lobes only keep that information for a few seconds. Then, another set of “chunks” will catch our attention. Worse, the learning centers of our brains can only deal with one or two ideas at a time.

So to efficiently learn anything, key information must get absorbed with precision. Then, your brain needs time to absorb it and encode it into long-term memory. 

Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel explains in his book In Search of Memory that your brain needs rest to form long-term memories. This is why top athletes and other performers divide their practice into time-limited sessions with breaks.

During these breaks, it’s best to spend time daydreaming. Many consider mind-wandering a bad habit, but when you daydream your awareness expands throughout your brain. Meanwhile, hundreds of thoughts get processed and stored in your deeper memory.

You can improve your recall by taking just 60 seconds to let your mind wander after you learn something new. Just sit back, relax, and let your mind go anywhere it wants. The same holds true if you’ve been focusing on a task for a while. If you set alarms to give yourself micro-vacations, your performance will improve.

By learning in small chunks and giving yourself seconds to daydream, your performance can skyrocket.


SOURCES:

Brain connectivity during resting state and subsequent working memory task predicts behavioural performance. Sala-Llonch R, Peña-Gómez C, Arenaza-Urquijo EM, Vidal-Piñeiro D, Bargalló N, Junqué C, Bartrés-Faz D. Cortex. 2012 Oct; 48( 9): 1187-96.

Brief wakeful resting boosts new memories over the long term. Dewar M, Alber J, Butler C, Cowan N, Della Sala S. Psychol Sci. 2012 Sep 1;23( 9): 955-60.

Words Can Change Your Brain. Newberg A, M.D., Waldman, M. R., Penguin Group, 2012.

Nondirective meditation activates default mode network and areas associated with memory retrieval and emotional processing. Xu J, Vik A, Groote IR, Lagopoulos J, Holen A, Ellingsen O, Håberg AK, Davanger S. Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Feb 26;8: 86.

Kandel, E. In Search of Memory. Norton, 2006.


This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.

Ram Dass - Why Living in The Present is an Optimal State

Why #Living in The #Present is the Optimal Mindset by Ram Dass

A recent video by Tragedy & Hope features grounding reflections on the importance of living in the present moment by Ram Dass.

Any memory you’ve held on to,
of the high moment in your life,
is keeping you from this moment.
If not here, then nowhere.
This isn’t preparation for later.
You’re not collecting this for somewhere else.
This is what it’s about:
right this second.
Everything you’ve learned in life,
what you ate for breakfast, all of it...
is preparation in this moment here, right now.
This is it.
This is it.
If you’re in the present moment,
that’s the best preparation you can do for
being in the future.
For whatever the future will hold,
if you’re living right here consciously,
that’s the optimum
strategy for preparing for the future.
Because if I say to you “the world is going to end,”
I just have information.
What are you going to do?
Go to the toilet?
Call home?
You’re gonna pray?
Because everything you have been up to this moment,
something about Gandhi and the railway station...
“My life is my message.”
That was his message:
“My life is my message.”
Whatever you are this moment has to be ready to die and ready to live.
And if you’re not, you get on with it,
because that’s the only thing you can do
for however the world comes out.
— Ram Dass

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This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.

How to Kill Burnout and Upgrade Your Performance the Easy Way

how-to-kill-burnout-and-upgrade-performance-the-easy-way

If you're like me, you've experienced how crippling burnout can be. Despite critical deadlines, burnout can keep your motivation at zero. Everything seems harder. And when it hits, the timing often couldn’t be worse.

Our subjective experience of burnout is validated by brain research. Burnout compromises the cognitive and emotional processes in the brain.

burnout-compromises-the-brain

But what are the most effective ways to prevent and recover from it? 

Your brain works best if you give it even the tiniest breaks (as little as 60 seconds can greatly improve your performance).

Here’s why:

Burnout is caused by too much focus on achieving goals for extended periods of time. We know from many studies that the longer you stay focused on achieving goals without taking breaks for enjoyment and relaxation, the more your work quality and performance decline. You need to turn down activity in the concentration center of your brain (the Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex [DLPF]) several times an hour to allow your glial cells to clean away the stress-related byproducts generated by the neurons in this area.

The fastest way is to take relaxation break and to fully immerse yourself in any pleasurable activity for 1-3 minutes. This could be a taking a short walk, sipping a warm drink, massaging your own head, sketching a picture, looking at travel photos, watching a video on YouTube... Anything that you enjoy!

This cat massage video may help you.

That said, the most effective way to give your DLPF a rest is to enter a trance-like daydreaming state. Research shows that repeating the word "OM" like a yogi may be the fastest way to do this (other sounds don't appear to work!). That said, you may get some strange looks if you do this around others in the office and want to fall back on a more covert strategy.

Don’t feel guilty taking tiny indulgences throughout the day. In fact, we recommend getting very intentional about them. Set a timer to take quick breaks 1-3 times an hour. When you return to concentrate on a specific goal or task, you'll feel less stress and your productivity and performance will skyrocket. You’ll feel better, get more done, and you’ll protect your brain from debilitating burnouts.


Rewire Your Brain and Become the
Best Version of You

Get personalized cognitive training proven to
enhance the structure and functioning of the brain.


SOURCES:

Neurohemodynamic correlates of 'OM' chanting: A pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Kalyani BG, Venkatasubramanian G, Arasappa R, Rao NP, Kalmady SV, Behere RV, Rao H, Vasudev MK, Gangadhar BN. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jan;4(1):3-6.

Can we predict burnout severity from empathy-related brain activity? Tei S, Becker C, Kawada R, Fujino J, Jankowski KF, Sugihara G, Murai T, Takahashi H. Transl Psychiatry. 2014 Jun 3;4:e393.

Structural changes of the brain in relation to occupational stress. Savic I. Cereb Cortex. 2015 Jun;25(6):1554-64.


This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.