Archive for March, 2014

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.


Inspired by Oliver Sack’s Love of Cephalopods

March 6th, 2014

Inspired by Oliver Sack’s love of cephalopods I have decided to doodle them until I fill up a notebook. Some might say, why waste all that time? But, I say, I’m trying to be a better visual artist. So this will get me thinking visually and hopefully lead me on a new path to explaining myself. Also, it is really great for reseting my brain when I have crossed a bunch of wires with emails, to-do lists, etc. Plus they’re kinda cute and fun… they make me smile. Whatever, shut up. Here are the first three. Spots. Spider. Petunia.

Kyle Abraham Dance at MCA

March 5th, 2014

Photo: Steven Schreiber

About a week ago I was able to catch Kyle Abraham’s, The Radio Show at the MCA stage. I had heard about him through another artist that I adore and admire, Amy O’Neal. The reason I’m writing about it on PopNeurology is because well, here it is best described from his website:

Kyle Abraham delves into identity and personal history in The Radio Show. Creating an abstract narrative around the loss of communication, he investigates the effects of the abrupt discontinuation of a radio station on a community and the lingering effects of Alzheimer’s and aphasia on a family. Abraham mixes recordings of classic soul and hip-hop with contemporary classical compositions to create an eclectic score that evokes fond memories and a passion for what is lost.

There are perfectly placed moments in this tight, intense, fluid and controlled show highlighting the disintegration of communication spoken and physical. The character choice/movement theme that he chooses to represent his aphasic family member is not emotionally manipulative, but meaningful.  It feels like the character is telling the story not just being seen. And thus hits harder and in other places than just the heart and tear ducts. For myself, I hope in future works to remember how much this light handed approach intensified a point. The show offered so much to see and think about with alternate narratives yet it all came together so beautifully. So satisfying. It was one of those moments when you are lost in and completely engaged with a piece of art.

His company’s website:

Additionally, if you live in or around NYC there is a performance of The Radio Show coming up in March,