Care & Feeding

Just for Fun: 100 Fascinating Facts You Never Knew About the Human Brain

Alisa Miller alerted me to her fun list of 100 Fascinating Facts about the Brain -- what a great collection of all sorts of tidbits about the brain!

Once I saw it, I wanted to share it with all of you --

Feel free to share -- what's your favorite factoid? The most surprising? The hardest to believe?

The one that caught my attention today was:

#47: Decision-making. Women tend to take longer to make a decision,but are more likely to stick with the decision, compared to men, who are more likely to change their mind after making a decision.

This makes total sense to me after a holiday period of trying to decide on a new dishwasher - I'm the researcher, my husband is the "let's just get one!" half of the team.

Looking forward to hearing what catches your attention in this fabulous list!

What is the Internet Doing to Your Brain? (Revised - links added!)

Is the internet your brain's friend?I was asked a question by someone who was in a discussion about the internet and its influence on our brains. Specifically, they were talking about whether there is any truth to some recent work showing that the internet, and how we (you, your children) are using it, is making us dumber. So the question posed to me was.... Wondering if you have any thoughts/insights on the changing nature of the brain, with increased internet commnunications, and the prevalence of tools like Google to locate information? My answer was:

Brain Training Without Equipment: Mindfulness Meditation

Imagine yourself sitting back for a nonlinear neurofeedback session....That means that your brain is going to have a "conversation" with itself (which I recently described in my newsletter, Not Just Neurofeedback, as the brain looking at itself in a mirror - let me know if you want to be on the list and have access to back copies like this). Your conscious mind doesn't really have anything specific to do in order to "make" something happen on purpose". In fact, the best thing you can do is to get out of the way. ;- ) But what does "get out of the way" mean, exactly? How do you "get out of the way"?

Just for Fun+: Exercise Your Brain and Donate to the Hungry

This is an excerpt from Daphne Gray-Grant's newsletter Power Writing. I thought it was such a great idea I wanted to share it with as many people as possible.

She's telling us about an on-line self-test of your vocabulary. It's a great idea because:
(1) using the language networks in your brain strengthens them;
(2) exercising your brain in general strengthens it, and
(3) for every word you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations' World Food Program. 

Practice a lot ;-) 

So…Here's her description:

Allof this is a pep-talk designed to persuade you to try a new, fr'ee vocabulary website launched this October by U.S. computer programmer John Breen. Basically an on-line vocabulary test, much like the SAT, it presents you with a series of multiple choice definitions. Your answer to each question is scored immediately and you move on to the next one. (You can set options so that when you leave your computer the site “remembers” your score for the next time.)

Think you're pretty smart already? (Or worried about not being smart enough?) No worries! The site, which is called FreeRice, automatically adjusts to your vocabulary level. When you get a word wrong, the next word provided is from an easier level. When you get three consecutive words right, you move to a higher degree of difficulty. (Experts say that this constant fine-tuning of levels is the best way to ensure you are learning and not just playing a game.) FreeRice has 50 levels in total, but staff say it's rare for people to get past level 48. Go ahead; knock yourself out.

But you're probably wondering about the site's odd name. And therein lies the best news of all. Each time you get a word right, the site's sponsors donate enough money to pay for 20 grains of rice for the United Nations' World Food Program. That may sound like a pitifully small amount, but the site has already raised more than five billion grains of rice in less than two months.

So you can build your vocabulary, become a better writer, have fun and help reduce world hunger – all at the same time. How great is that?

I'm up to 2020 grains today -- how about you?