Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Is it really “Smarter”?

March 21st, 2014

Ok I’m going to bring this up again but I just read the NYT review for “Smarter”. All this brain training merchandising feels too surface, like a trick around deep thinking. Maybe brain training quick-fixes work? Maybe even as a simple kickstart for your brain, to get you prepared to think deeply? I don’t want to be a naysayer of progress but the games feel part and parcel to a “bigger, better, keep-up-with-the-joneses” approach than with truly richer thinking. It feels like tricks on how to train yourself to be a really fast typist or a great executive assistant. My brain changes with whatever I do repetitively. For example, I started closing my eyes and seeing candy after playing candy crush for the first few days (by the way, this side-effect was hilariously mentioned in Brooklyn Nine Nine not this clip but this episode). The app/game maybe made me faster at certain things, like crushing fake candy, but did it make me a better thinker? I don’t know. I had to take it off my phone because it was ruining my focus for anything BUT candy crush. I’m sure the games that “Smarter” mentions and that “Lumosity” uses are highly vetted and different than candy crush but my question remains the same. Are these games leading to deep cognitive thought or just some sort of built-in, knee jerk, surface change that optimizes game brain? I guess I should read the book and do the exercises. But they seem so boring. Can’t I take, like, a physics class instead?

Here’s an additional link about the related topic of Candy Crush addiction. You can stop. I believe in you.


Dreaming Up the Answers

December 16th, 2013

I was just in Seattle for a three month gig working with Cafe Nordo. One thing I noticed was that almost every morning I would wake up with a solution to a problem. The solution usually had to do with creative writing or how to answer an email. Things I’d been having trouble wording correctly became clear. I would literally dream the answer right as I was about to wake up and be able to write it down after I awoke.  I’d heard the phenomenon talked about and even experienced it before, but the experience was so clear this time that I had to mention it. And when I saw the following post today by Annie Murphy Paul, I thought it was a good time to share. I absolutely love this feeling, it’s like my mind thanking me for just letting it work instead of spin. A few reasons I think it worked for me personally in this particular situation were:

I didn’t have a day job or much of anything to rush off to in the mornings.
I was sleeping by myself.
The room was quiet until I woke up (no alarm, pet noises, noisy neighbors)
I was able to sleep for long periods of time (around 8hrs)

Ok now it just sort of sounds like I’m bragging… but really, I just want to keep a record to remember how it happened!  Additionally, the fact that I was in a city that I love and see as a sort of escape and refuge probably had a lot to do with feeling free enough to relax and listen to “the mornings”. Something seemed to pop out of the muckedy muck. I’d been stewing on some of the questions for a long time but others were just from the day before. I’m noting this experience as somewhat of a tool for myself to try and reinforce in my regular non-touring/visiting life. I want to be able to bring it in to my everyday sleeping. Although, vocabulary like this (taken from the aforementioned post) makes me nervous,

“But some scientists are pushing the notion of enhancing learning through dreaming even further, asking sleepers to mentally practice skills while they slumber.”

To me there is a sense of “Good god! Just sleep and frickin’ RELAX! Thats why it’s working!” I get a bit riled up when it sounds like this process is going to be taught and packaged as just another get smart fast or “train your brain! buy our $300 software!” performance enhancement trick. I want to give my brain space for congealing, not force it. Because who knows what you are inhibiting by trying to control your dreams.

slow medicine, is what i need woahOHoh!

May 7th, 2012

Bon Jovi meant to say “slow” instead of “bad” I’m pretty sure. I know I’m on board. At least for checking out this book, God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine. Look at this gorgeous paragraph from just an interview with the author on The Huffington Post

But Hildegard had a completely different idea than our mechanical model of the body. The idea was that the body is like a plant and that the doctor is a gardener of the plant — this, as opposed to the idea of the body as a machine and the doctor as a mechanic. The fundamental difference is that someone has to fix the broken machine, but a plant can heal itself. And that healing power of the plant is what Hildegard called it its ‘greening power.’ She thought that human beings had the same kind of innate healing power and that, therefore, the doctor was more of a gardener whose purpose is to cultivate that healing power — to nurture it, remove obstructions to it and fortify it.

I was brought back to the story from The Brain That Changes Itself and how Paul Bach-y-Rita stayed with his father after his father’s stroke. He helped him to rehabilitate and learn well, basically everything again. How to walk from crawling. Have you ever met a doctor who seemed like they had that time? Let alone to follow up on that weird thing on your back? I believe that they exist and this interview (and sounds like, book!) supports that theory.

Anyway, that paragraph echoed the beauty I felt when I first read about Neuroplasticity. Bodies knowing how to heal themselves, but needing time, space, and help to do it. We are awesome! Brains are awesome!!! Onward!

Oh Wow. What Neglect!

November 27th, 2011

Short story is I had to get an office day job for awhile and… I GOT to, take a brain class (The Human Brain! Got an A. Brushing my shoulders off.), do a bunch of shows one of which is my new day job (finally! squee!) and a bunch of other excuses that took my away from this blog but not from my interest in brain stuffs. I will be updating soon with cool stuff I’ve been looking at and getting to see since my last post. For now, I want to make sure I post this really great pamphlet on LKS and what to expect/know etc. It is some of the most info I’ve seen in one spot and goes beyond just a definition. Thanks, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust for compiling this pdf.


To more communicating soon and often,