Accelerated Learning

Are our patterns of thinking alone enough to reshape the brain for success? Many believe it is possible because the adult brain is continually re-wiring.

Researchers have found that neurogenesis, which is the birth of new neurons, is a normal feature of the adult brain. Studies have shown that one of the most active parts of the brain is the hippocampus, a structure that is vitally important for learning and long-term memory.

Neurogenesis also takes place in the olfactory bulb, which is the part of the brain which processes smells. But … not all of these neurons survive. Infact, the majority of them die. For them to be able to survive, the new cells need nutrients and connections with other neurons that are already thriving.

How do you stimulate survival of the new neurons in your brain?

Scientists have identified certain factors that affect the rate of neurogenesis and the survival of new cells. For instance, mental and physical exercise both boost neuron survival. Eating a healthy diet, which, includes things like omega-3 fats found in fish, nuts and seeds. Using stimulants to increase heart rate, blood pressure, energy, breathing and more. Video games, crosswords and puzzles to activate your mind. Music and certain sounds and meditation, which can increase the thickness of the cerebral cortex, particularly in regions associated with attention and sensation.

I’m sure you’ll agree that re-wiring your brain for success is very much like a well-wired circuit board. With the right connections your brain will light up your world and gear you up for the success you want.

How often do you hear the words ‘re-wiring’ your brain to become successful? Do you ever consider the probability of that actually happening? Or is it just here-say and a way of getting you to sign up to a programme?

Interestingly neuroscientist Vilayanur S.Ramachandran found when working with patients who had so-called phantom limbs, including a man called Tom who had lost of one of his arms, that re-wiring of the brain happens naturally in adults. Source: Scientific American

Ramachandran discovered that when he stroked Tom’s face that Tom felt like his missing fingers were also being touched. Each part of the body is represented by a different region of the somatosensory cortex, and the region for the hand is adjacent to the region for the face. The neuroscientist deducted that a remarkable change had taken place in Tom’s somatosensory cortex. Instead of getting input from his missing hand, the regions processing the sensation from his face had slowly taken over the hand’s territory. In doing so, by touching tom’s face it produced sensation in his non-existent fingers.

What does this mean for you?

This is the kind of rewiring that happens naturally in adult brains whereby the brain has the possibility to change and remold itself. The brain is very malleable. Our behaviour and environment can cause substantial rewiring of the brain or a reorganization of its functions and where they are located. Some believe that even patterns of thinking alone are enough to reshape the brain.

Perhaps its time to look at a change of environment or to book that training seminar you’ve always promised yourself. After all, rewiring your brain for the successful outcome you want is proving more possible than ever before.

Yes, it’s rather an unconventional title isn’t it? And it does concern men … and women … or rather the size of their brain.

It was a recent article in the Asheville Citizen-Times that noted an obscure scientific research whereby scientists had discovered that the corpus callosum in the brain is thicker in women than in men. The corpus callosum is a band of tissue that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

If this finding is true then it explains a lot of things that we sometimes puzzle over such as and why we differ in our thinking and approach to undertaking certain tasks. Why do women multi-task and men concentrate on one task at a time.

Much of what we’ve been told recently has led us to believe that men are better at rational thought, while women rely more on intuition. Men rely more on their left ‘logical and analytical’ brain, while women rely more on their right ‘feelings and emotional’ brain. But there’s much more to it than that.

Here’s why…

The discovery of the difference in size of the corpus callosum is a better model of actual real-world behaviour rather than trying to classify someone into a left or right brain theory.

Rather it explains why men are often highly focussed, extremely creative, ambitious, driven and fearless and women by contrast think more holistically, work collaboratively and are good at communication. Women will often know the answer to something without having to think about it, or even to explain why.

It’s also said that the majority of people only ever use a small percentage of their brain’s capacity, which equates to using around 10% of the brain.

The discovery of the corpus callosum is a structure that links the two halves and serves as a communication bridge between the two. This leads to the conclusion that with a thicker corpus callosum women are able to inhabit their entire brain as their active 10% is spread throughout both hemispheres. Men on the other hand tend to spread their brain active 10% more on the left brain activities and think more in the way of a computer; linearly and procedurally.

Neither way of thinking is right or wrong or better than the other – it just how we develop differently.

How does this knowledge help in business?

Women and men tend to approach business differently – and it helps in understanding why that might be when it comes to coaching or mentoring others.

For instance; men will define a goal, set out the steps very clearly and try all sorts of methods to achieving that goal. It may come as no surprise that in their quest for achievement that adverse consequences of potential risks or even serious bodily harm are somewhat ignored. Boys will be boys from an early age and take risks – which is why my brother spent much of his early years in hospital being stitched up or with his leg in traction!

Women do tend to think differently to this. They tend to have a sixth sense and will relate to stories and narratives – so will explore of what might happen in the event of something adverse happening. They also tend to gain their knowledge from real world rather than books and make an emotional connection.  They will tend to feel whether something is right or wrong in advance.

This kind of feeling-thinking is increasingly required in the business world in the light of our more feminine economy where collaboration and heart-centred working is evolving at a rapid pace.

Technology has enabled tremendous advances in business, there is no doubt about that, but at the same time it has opened up the need for a more holistic approach to communication and collaboration.

So to my original question – does size really matter? Well, I’d say that it’s more do with how you embrace the knowledge and apply it.