Sleep on It: How Snoozing Makes You Smarter (SciAm)
Sometimes when facing a dilemma, we decide to “sleep on the problem,” believing that a solution may appear to us once we’re rested and refreshed, almost as if by magic. Now science is showing how that “magic” works – or rather, how the brain works while we’re asleep, strengthening memories, getting rid of irrelevant details, and forming new associations among the things we remember in ways that give rise to solutions and new knowledge. Sleep time is mental processing time.
No Time to Think? (BBC)
Thinking time – time to do nothing but think, reflect, imagine – is crucial for wellbeing. But pushed and pulled in so many directions by daily pressures and responsibilities, many of us neglect this. This BBC essay reflects on the importance of thinking time and offers some good ideas for working more of it into your day.
Imagining Missing Limbs Helps Pain, Reorganises Brain (Mind Hacks)
Truly, the mind is capable of some amazing things – such as those described at Mind Hacks by Vaughan in his overview of some recent research published in Brain. The study demonstrated “how just six weeks of mental imagery training can help reduce phantom limb pain as well as reorganis[e] the sensory and motor maps in the brain.” It was “based on extensive research to show that imagining something activates similar brain areas to actually perceiv[e] the sensation or execut[e] the action. For example, imagining the sensation of a cool breeze across your arm actually increases activity in the brain areas responsible for arm sensations, while imaging picking something up activates arm-related motor areas.” (Full study available here.)
How to Improve Your Memory (Times)
A brief but intriguing piece from The Times about some of the competitors in the UK Open Memory Championships in London – how much they can remember (e.g., sequences of more than 1000 numbers) and some of their tactics for remembering.