If you’ve ever wondered why making sometimes quite simple decisions can be oddly difficult, here’s something of an explanation… regions of our brain would appear to be in conflict with each other when it comes to selecting one option over another.
“Different brain regions may be nudging you to go in one direction or another,” Floresco said. “I like to use the analogy that there are battles going on in your brain pushing you one way or another. What our results suggest is that this nucleus, the lateral habenula, helps this circuitry reach a definitive decision and/or helps you implement it once there is an apparent ‘winner’ in this battle.”
I’m not sure what’s better. Knowing that I’m not actually indecisive, despite all appearances, or the fact that my mind is at war with itself…
You could dispense with an alarm clock, were you to go to sleep around the same time each night, every day, and wake up at the same hour the next day. Such a routine allows for the optimisation of a protein called PER, that regulates sleep, largely ensuring you wake at the same time every day.
If you follow a diligent sleep routine – waking up the same time every day – your body learns to increase your PER levels in time for your alarm. About an hour before you’re supposed to wake up, PER levels rise (along with your body temperature and blood pressure). To prepare for the stress of waking, your body releases a cocktail of stress hormones, like cortisol. Gradually, your sleep becomes lighter and lighter.
First, the top parts and the bottom parts of the brain have different functions. The top brain formulates and executes plans (which often involve deciding where to move objects or how to move the body in space), whereas the bottom brain classifies and interprets incoming information about the world. The two halves always work together; most important, the top brain uses information from the bottom brain to formulate its plans (and to reformulate them, as they unfold over time). Second, according to the theory, people vary in the degree that they tend to rely on each of the two brain systems for functions that are optional (i.e., not dictated by the immediate situation): Some people tend to rely heavily on both brain systems, some rely heavily on the bottom brain system but not the top, some rely heavily on the top but not the bottom, and some don’t rely heavily on either system.
Drug tolerance is an important subject, especially in the case of caffeine since most of us overuse this drug. Therefore, if we are drinking caffeine at a time when your cortisol concentration in the blood is at its peak, you probably should not be drinking it. This is because cortisol production is strongly related to your level of alertness and it just so happens that cortisol peaks for your 24 hour rhythm between 8 and 9 AM on average (Debono et al., 2009). Therefore, you are drinking caffeine at a time when you are already approaching your maximal level of alertness naturally.
Since I like to feature at least one motivational/productivity related link here each week… daydreaming, and playing video games also it seems, can boost our confidence, and a confident person is a productive person, right? Daydreaming may bolster confidence, but its real power however appears to lie in the way it helps solve problems:
Researcher Jonathan Schooler of the University of California, Santa Barbara believes that our brains are often working on “task-unrelated” ideas and solutions when we daydream. That could explain studies showing that prolific mind wanderers score higher on tests of creativity. And new research on the default network of the brain similarly found that our minds make unlikely connections between ideas, memories, and experiences when we are at rest and not focused on a specific task or project.
So, if you’re a creative type you must be “right brained”, and if you are more analytical, “left brained”. I have to say I’ve always enjoyed entertaining this notion, even if I’ve never found it completely convincing.
I like to think I’m creative, but people often tell me I’m analytical. I have four spreadsheets open, crunching an array of numbers, as I write this, so maybe they’re onto something.
Matters of my mind aside though, that likely defies any logical way of defining it, recent studies have seemingly debunked the idea of dominant left or right brain hemispheres having this sort of sway over our personalities, or thought processes. Whatever you are, creative or analytical, it’s the result of a combined, left, right, brain effort:
None of this means that some people aren’t more creative, while others more analytical and logical, just that it’s not accurate to say that creative people are more “right-brained”. It’s not their over-active right-brain that’s making them more creative; it’s their whole brain.
That has to make me creative in an analytical way maybe.
The one problem with these transplants was that scientists were unable to connect the animals’ spinal cords to their donor bodies, leaving them paralyzed below the point of transplant. But, says Canavero, recent advances in re-connecting spinal cords that are surgically severed mean that it should be technically feasible to do it in humans. (This is not the same as restoring nervous system function to quadriplegics or other victims of traumatic spinal cord injury.)
I wonder how long it might be before it becomes possible to likewise attach a human head to some sort of robotic body? The stuff of science fiction? Who knows?
Footage of the brain of a fish as it forms a thought. Thunder and lightning, very exciting. Around here you tend to see smoke more than anything else when thought making is in action…
And if you ever want to take a break from thinking, it may one day be possible to outsource the process, if a supercomputer, costing a cool $1.6 billion, that simulates the human brain, ever comes to fruition.
Today I’m an honorary member. I’ll be kept awake for the entire procedure. During the surgery I will talk and move my limbs on command, which helps Team Hubris know which part of my brain is being poked. Unfortunately, this also means I’m conscious when Henderson produces what looks like a hand drill and uses it to burr two dime-sized holes into the top of my skull. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s loud.