I recently came across this unattributed quote, which made me think about the exploding interest in Neuroscience:
“… an intelligent person knows a tomato is a fruit, but an experienced person knows not to put it in a fruit salad!”
The connection may not be obvious. Let me explain.
Neuroscience has taken the personal and professional development world by storm in recent years and it is exciting. At its core, it has proven that the brain isn’t fixed. Nor has it been deteriorating since our childhood days (as once thought), but it can grow and develop and change. More excitingly, we humans can take conscious steps to improve our intellectual capacity; it is not just a question of accepting the cards we were dealt at birth.
The science in neuroscience is pretty incredible. And many of the research experiments are fascinating. What it proves to us, scientifically, is that we humans can actually reshape the very anatomy of our brain according to our own requirements.
For example, isn’t it interesting that learning a foreign language, or to write in an intricate script like Kanji or Farsi, turns on different parts of the brain, and makes different neural connections that have been shown to increase our creative ability? Or that cab drivers in London who have undergone the test called ‘The Knowledge’ (which requires them to memorise the streets of London in detail) have grown a larger hippocampus. Quite literally. [The Hippocampus is the part of the brain that stores our spatial map.]
But getting caught up in the academic research for its own sake – the intellectual part – won’t give you the results you want. In itself, it won’t actually change your brain. The necessary step is application.
So the thing that we get really excited about at Vibrant Frog is how to use this new (and expanding) information coming from the field of neuroscience to make real and lasting positive change. The paradox is that just because it ‘can’ happen, doesn’t mean it ‘does’ happen. The step beyond the academic understanding that brings the research to life is the realm of action and experience.
Oh no, I hear you shout. I’ve read the study. I understood the findings. It is great! Surely I don’t have to DO anything?
Well yes. If you want the results that are possible, then you do. Just knowing has little impact on your creativity, your memory, your happiness, your life. The payoff is in the action.
So go and do something that stretches and challenges you. Encourage some friends to do it with you, if that makes it easier or more enjoyable. Sign up for a class in languages, tango, surfing, or motorcross. Make exercise a habit. Learn a new word – and use it – every day. Write down 3 things that you are grateful for, daily (that is, 3 different things each day). Decide to remember the names of all the people you meet. Learn to draw. Or fly a kite. It’s not so important what you do, just that you do it.
Email us if you’d like some specific ideas – we’d love to help.
Author: Nicola Deakin