For Christmas I received the book This Will Make You Smarter. Published in 2012, it consists of about 150 responses to the question “What Scientific Concept Would Improve Everybody’s Cognitive Toolkit?” The responders are scientists, doctors, journalists and other interesting people with a connection to science. The essays are short, three or four pages on average. All of them had a valuable point. Several jumped out at me, particularly this one.
Designing Your Mind – Donald Tapscott
I only discovered this person in the past year. Donald Tapscott is a Canadian business person, about my age, who has followed, examined, and written about how the digital world is changing us, affecting how we do business and what will come about in our world because of it. He and his son are now exploring and publicizing about the blockchain and alternative digital currencies. In my opinion, 2017 will be the year that everyone becomes aware that this will revolutionize our financial transactions and in addition that it will affect our lives in ways not yet conceived. I’ve enjoyed several YouTube Videos by him.
His short essay is titled “Designing Your Mind”. He states that
“Given recent research about brain plasticity and the dangers of cognitive load, the most powerful tool in our cognitive arsenal may well be design. Specifically, we can use design principles and discipline to shape our minds.”
In brief, he provides evidence that our brains are sufficiently plastic that we can, by how we use our brains, effect physiological changes for our benefit. We can re-wire our brains.
“Results from studies like these support the notion that even among adults the persistent, concentrated use of one neighborhood of the brain really can increase its size and presumably its capacity.”
He cites Stan Kutcher that
“There is emerging evidence suggesting that exposure to new technologies may push the Net Generation [teenagers and young adults] brain past conventional capacity limitations.”
But not just the young can do this, even an oldster like myself can do it too. Ways to accomplish this include mental rehearsal, memorizing, and practice. By doing these things, we are taking an active role in designing our minds. This is especially pertinent to me because at 66 I recognize my mind is not as sharp and quick as it used to be. This gives me hope that there is still a chance for improvement in certain ways and that I can remain useful to my loved ones and society.
This Will Make You Smarter, J. Brockman ed; ISBN-13: 9780062109392