Your Amazing Brain - 4 facts you never knew
On many occasions we find ourselves convinced that there is a certain way to do things, only to be proved wrong a short time later. For example, you might think you’re quite good at multitasking, only to find that it’s literally impossible to handle two tasks at the same time.
Here are some interesting facts about your brain that you may not have known before.
1. Your brain does creative work better when you’re tired
If you’re a morning person, you want to get your things done early when you’re feeling fresh and ready to focus. Using your brain to solve problems, answer questions and make decisions is best done when you’re at your peak.
For night owls, later in the day is probably better.
But whether you’re a morning person or a late person, if you’re trying to do creative work, you’ll actually have more luck when you’re tired and your brain is feeling fuzzy. This sounds counterintuitive, but it actually makes sense when you look at the logic behind it.
If you’re particularly tired, your brain is not as good at filtering out distractions. It’s also a lot less efficient at remembering connections between ideas or concepts. These are both good things when it comes to creative work, because it requires connecting the dots; being open to new ideas; and thinking in new ways. So a tired, fuzzy brain is much more use when working on creative projects.
2. Your brain size changes when stressed for a long period of time
One study took half of the baby monkeys away from their mothers for six months and had them cared for by monkey friends, while the other half of the monkeys stayed with their mothers. Those who were separated from their mothers, even though they had been put in relatively normal social situations, had enlarged stress areas of their brain even several months later.
Another study found that in rats exposed to chronic stress, the hippocampuses in their brains actually shrank. The hippocampus is integral to the formation of memories. It has been questioned whether Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can actually shrink the hippocampus, or people with naturally smaller hippocampuses are more prone to PTSD. This study could point towards stress being a factor that actually changes the brain.
3.Naps improve your brain’s day to day performance
We all know the importance of sleep for our brain’s performance, but what about naps? It turns out that these short bursts of sleep are actually very useful.
Napping improves memory. In one study, participants memorized illustrated cards to test their memory strength. After memorizing a set of cards, participants had a 40-minute break where one group napped and the others stayed awake. After the break, both groups were tested on their memory of the cards, and the group that napped performed better - remembering 85 percent of the patterns, compared to 60% by those who stayed awake. Sleeping pushes memories from the short term memory into the long term memory, but if you keep learning more, the old information in your short term memory can easily be forgotten. It is kind of like a conveyer belt - in with the new, out with the old, and the way to safeguard the old is napping!
Another interesting fact is that while sleeping, the right side of the brain is much more active than the left. While 95% of the population is right handed, with the left side of their brains being most dominant, the right side is consistently the more active hemisphere during sleep. This is because the less dominant side of the brain is responsible for housekeeping activities during shut-eye time: pushing information into long-term storage and solidifying your memories from the day (or morning!).
4.We tend to like people who make mistakes more
Apparently making mistakes makes us more likeable, according to the Pratfall effect. Those who never make mistakes are less likeable than those who commit the occasional blunder. Messing up seems to draws people closer to you and makes you more human, while perfection creates distance and an unnattractive air of invincibility. The theory was tested by psychologist Elliot Aronson who asked participants to listen to the recordings of people answering a quiz. Some of the recordings included the sound of the person knocking over a mug of coffee. When participants were asked to rate who they liked the most, the coffee-spillers group came out on top. Occasional mistakes are not only acceptable, but they may also turn out to be beneficial. So long as the mistakes are not critical and do not give you a poor reputation, the occasional pratfall can come in handy.
Contrary to what we might think about our brains, there is a lot more we can do to optimize how they work. Follow these four tips, and find out something new about how your brain works.