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Super-brain (or increasing cognitive capacity) Super-brain (or increasing cognitive capacity)
by Joseph Gatt
2021-03-12 08:46:43
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The great Antonio Damasio, whose book “self comes to mind” I'm about to finish, has it that the brain “organizes and maps information.”

To me, that's an optimistic outlook on the brain. Indeed, the brain does organize and map information, but often in hazy and disorganized ways.

So to me, the brain stores information, but often in disorganized and chaotic ways. Sometimes it's emotions that get in the way of information. Other times it's toxic hormones that get in the way of information. And other times it's just that information is incomplete. Either the account or story is incomplete. Or our vision is biased and we only see parts of the picture.

brai00002_400So a lot of people look at things like prayer or yoga or pilates or therapists or meditation, hoping those activities will help organize all those disorganized thoughts.

But what prayer and yoga and meditation and a therapist does is usually merely try to ease the negative emotions and change them into positive emotions. Yoga or prayer do not get rid of all the toxins ingested in the form of junk food, marijuana, alcohol, toxic surroundings, dust or other toxic elements that you inhale and that cause the information in the brain to be hazed out.

So how do you organize your brain in ways to optimize brain and cognitive performance, that is organizing information optimally?

Last time I discussed some of the intelligences or categories of intelligence that tend to be appreciated by society. So here are a few things you can do to optimize brain performance without having to take brain-enhancing vitamins or steroids.

Enhancing academic knowledge

Academic knowledge in the form of philosophy, history, sociology, political science or hard sciences can help you better understand your surroundings and make sense of society-at-large and the universe-at-large.

So if you have a regular routine where you watch a few documentaries about nature (without falling asleep) or read books about history or politics or religion or biology that can only be beneficial.

Enhancing social knowledge

Getting to know people is a sport. To some it's a fun sport. To others it's a dreaded sport.

But you want to organize your social circle in ways that you know who they are, what they do, what they like, and how life is treating them.

Most people don't bother finding out information about anyone, and yet want everyone to know them. Others make stuff up about their surroundings, because they are too scared to ask for information.

So the more true, interesting and positive facts you know about your social circle, the better.

Enhancing work-related knowledge

How many people show up to work and have no idea how to get the job done. They improvise their way through the day hoping for a miracle, that they will survive the day at work, and try not to think about tomorrow.

This is debilitating for physical and mental health.

So you want to ask questions about what goes on at the workplace and how to get the job done. And if they refuse to answer the questions, your presence probably isn't welcome at the workplace.

If your presence is not celebrated at the workplace, you want to ask your social circle where you can find a decent job, the kind of job where your presence is welcome and where you will be taught how to do your job.

Enhancing creative knowledge

Creativity usually involves connecting the dots, like the great Steve Jobs once said. Creativity means taking a Calligraphy class, then taking a computer science class, then having the great idea of creating different types of fonts for word processors.

Creativity can also mean studying medieval history, studying biology, and reinventing and improving medication once used in the 13th century.

So creativity is looking at information here, information there, and connecting the different types of information to come up with something useful. Or creativity can involve looking at things no one is looking at but everyone sees in passing, and describing what everyone sees but no one notices.

Enhancing factual knowledge

Oh, the facts! Journalists don't love them... haha.

But in life, if you ignore facts, soon enough you could be disoriented. So you want to know where the different restaurants are, where the different stores are, where the different music concerts and festivals are, where the different sports events are, what kinds of products supermarkets have in store and the like.

The more stuff you know, the more intelligent decisions you will make as you will be able to compare different options.

Enhancing “comfort” knowledge

How do you make your house more comfortable? Your car more comfortable? Your workplace more comfortable?

What tools are at your disposal to optimize comfort?

Comfort is underrated. A lot of times it take simple, cheap tools to make life a lot more comfortable, be they comfortable clothing items or kitchen tools or living room tools that make life a lot more comfortable.

People like Martha Stuart and publications like Home and Garden magazine can come in very handy if you read the articles carefully (don't just look at the ads and the pictures, read the articles!)

Delaying decision time to take more informed decisions

How many people have I met who take decisions the minute they see something or something pops into their head.

A “super-brain” is not a badge of honor. It simply means looking at information, organizing information inside your head in ways that enable you to take time to think clearly before taking good decisions.

So rather than be overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions and toxic hormones in your brain, and seek yoga or therapy to solve those problems, you want to organize the information you store up in your brain.

So why doesn't everyone have a “super-brain” or an organized brain like Antonio Damasio claims?

Because we human beings are social creatures. And our parents or our classmates or our friends often tell us to “look the other way” to hide negative information. So a lot of times we grow up in the dark, and we stay in the dark for a lifetime.

So you want to silence those voices telling you to “look the other way” and you want to look at the information, and organize the information as you find it.

So when Jay Gardner (played by Will Smith) in that famous scene of the Pursuit of Happiness tells his son “if you want something, go get it. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't have it” that pretty much means that if you need information, go get it, and don't listen to those people telling you to look the other way.

So will we go from what Yuval Noah Harari calls “from Homo Sapiens to Homo Deus” or from “the man of knowledge to the “God-like man””? I think it can take some time. But organizing information in the brain is a good start!


    
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