Did someone say multi-task?

In short, the brain does not multi-task. It context-switches. Imagine two stacks. A and B. Each stack contains 10 cards with an instruction on them. If we were to multi-task we could execute instructions A1 and B1 at the same time. When we context-switch, we can only execute A1 and only when finished can we then execute B1.

It should be easy to see that multi-tasking is much faster than context-switching yet our brains operate so fast that we think we’re multi-tasking. Imagine if our brains actually could multi-task. Guess what? It’s coming. It’s coming in the form of the digital world.

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Brain Surgery(k)

You can make your brain think time is going slowly by doing new things.

Ever wished you didn’t find yourself saying “Where does the time go!” every June when you realize the year is half-over? This is a neat trick that relates to how our brains perceive time. Once you know how it works, you can trick your brain into thinking time is moving more slowly.

Essentially, our brains take a whole bunch of information from our senses and organize it in a way that makes sense to us, before we ever perceive it. So what we think is our sense of time is actually just a whole bunch of information presented to us in a particular way, as determined by our brains:

When our brains receive new information, it doesn’t necessarily come in the proper order. This information needs to be reorganized and presented to us in a form we understand. When familiar information is processed, this doesn’t take much time at all. New information, however, is a bit slower and makes time feel elongated.

Even stranger, it isn’t just a single area of the brain that controls our time perception—it’s done by a whole bunch of brain areas, unlike our common five senses, which can each be pinpointed to a single, specific area.

how our brain works, how our brains work, senses and the brain

When we receive lots of new information, it takes our brains a while to process it all. The longer this processing takes, the longer that period of time feels:

When we’re in life-threatening situations, for instance, “we remember the time as longer because we record more of the experience. Life-threatening experiences make us really pay attention, but we don’t gain superhuman powers of perception.”

The same thing happens when we hear enjoyable music, because “greater attention leads to perception of a longer period of time.”

Conversely, if your brain doesn’t have to process lots of new information, time seems to move faster, so the same amount of time will actually feel shorter than it would otherwise. This happens when you take in lots of information that’s familiar, because you’ve processed it before. Your brain doesn’t have to work very hard, so it processes time faster.

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science.

Meditation: So Good

Meditation can rewire your brain for the better

. . . and has a whole bunch of great benefits.

Here are a few examples:

Less anxiety

This point is pretty technical, but it’s really interesting. The more we meditate, the less anxiety we have, and it turns out this is because we’re actually loosening the connections of particular neural pathways. This sounds bad, but it’s not.

What happens without meditation is that there’s a section of our brains that’s sometimes called the Me Center (it’s technically the medial prefrontal cortex). This is the part that processes information relating to ourselves and our experiences. Normally the neural pathways from the bodily sensation and fear centers of the brain to the Me Center are really strong. When you experience a scary or upsetting sensation, it triggers a strong reaction in your Me Center, making you feel scared and under attack.

Here is how anxiety and agitation decreases with just a 20 minute meditation session:

how our brain works, how our brains work, meditation and the brain

When we meditate, especially when we are just getting started with meditation, we weaken this neural connection. This means that we don’t react as strongly to sensations that might have once lit up our Me Centers. As we weaken this connection, we simultaneously strengthen the connection between what’s known as our Assessment Center (the part of our brains known for reasoning) and our bodily sensation and fear centers. So when we experience scary or upsetting sensations, we can more easily look at them rationally. Here’s a good example:

For example, when you experience pain, rather than becoming anxious and assuming it means something is wrong with you, you can watch the pain rise and fall without becoming ensnared in a story about what it might mean.

More creativity

Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands studied both focused-attention and open-monitoring mediation to see if there was any improvement in creativity afterwards. They found that people who practiced focused-attention meditation did not show any obvious signs of improvement in the creativity task following their meditation. For those who did open-monitoring meditation, however, they performed better on a task that asked them to come up with new ideas.

Better memory

One of the things meditation has been linked to is improving rapid memory recall. Catherine Kerr, a researcher at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center found that people who practiced mindful meditation were able to adjust the brain wave that screens out distractions and increase their productivity more quickly that those that did not meditate. She said that this ability to ignore distractions could explain “their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.” This seems to be very similar to the power of being exposed to new situations that will also dramatically improve our memory of things.

Meditation has also been linked to increasing compassion, decreasing stress, improving memory skills and even increasing the amount of gray matter in the brain.

The Pratfall Effect

We tend to like people who make mistakes more

Apparently, making mistakes actually makes us more likeable, due to something called the Pratfall Effect.

Kevan Lee recently explained how this works on the Buffer blog:
Those who never make mistakes are perceived as less likeable than those who commit the occasional faux pas. Messing up draws people closer to you, makes you more human. Perfection creates distance and an unattractive air of invincibility. Those of us with flaws win out every time.

This theory was tested by psychologist Elliot Aronson. In his test, he asked participants to listen to recordings of people answering a quiz. Select recordings included the sound of the person knocking over a cup of coffee. When participants were asked to rate the quizzers on likability, the coffee-spill group came out on top.

So this is why we tend to dislike people who seem perfect! And now we know that making minor mistakes isn’t the worst thing in the world—in fact, it can work in our favor.

What is Faith?

Faith is simply an electro-chemical reaction that occurs in the brain when a person wants to believe in something. The something doesn’t have to exist. The person simply needs to tell himself enough that the thing exists and is good for him and then the brain acquiesces and makes it real. That’s all it is, but once done, the unconscious, conscious and subconscious are drenched with it and the belief exists until a new one is conjured to take it place.