From the category archives:

Neuroscience

Guitar Zero–A Review

by Stephen Mills February 12, 2012

This is a review of Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning.  It comes from my reading of a copy of the book prior to its release date.  My review on Amazon is the first one and listed under “Book Fanatic”.  Some parts of that review are also included here. Guitar Zero […]

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Our Conscious Illusions

by Stephen Mills September 29, 2010
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This article is rather long, but still will only take a few minutes to read. It is a small compilation of amazing phenomena that to me demonstrate how little we really know about what our conscious minds are actually doing. Some and maybe much of what we subjectively experience may be an illusion and what is actually happening “out there” may be a lot different. I find it all incredibly fascinating and I hope you do too. Some of this is really hard to accept because it strikes at what we call free will, but I would ask you to open your mind a bit and go where the evidence leads.

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Working Memory – Why It’s Important and How To Improve It

by Stephen Mills June 26, 2010

What if there was one feature of your brain that was critical to your ability to control your attention, to concentrate in the face of distractions, to multi-task, to your general reasoning ability, to your ability to learn and comprehend what you read, and to overall performance on measures of intelligence? Further, what if it is possible to improve the performance of that one feature and consequently improve all those other abilities that are dependent upon it? There has recently been some tantalizing new evidence that working memory is that key feature and that in can be improved with training.

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Your Brain On the Internet

by Stephen Mills June 20, 2010
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Deep and reflective thinking seems to be disappearing and I think it is in large degree a result of changes brought about by Internet. If it is still there it is being overwhelmed by the shallows. Writers no longer write what they think, they write what they hope will rank in Google. Despite all the touted diversity of the Internet, obsession with Search Engine Optimization often takes priority over content. Google is funneling us into the narrow and boring land of the common.

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Tips for Boosting Creativity and Problem Solving

by Stephen Mills March 29, 2010

Priming is a technique where you think about something or create some environmental cue that will alter your subsequent performance. Seeing a design where one item stands out as different or thinking about creative types will significantly impact your creative output.

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Creativity and Novelty

by Stephen Mills February 14, 2010
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Optical illusions work because of the perceptual shortcuts your brain has developed from past perceptual experience. This tendency of your brain to make snap judgments and statistical predictions is a very good thing. It occurs in many different areas of your brain and it reduces by many magnitudes the amount of mental resources required to function in your every day life.

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The Science of Fear – Part II

by Stephen Mills January 13, 2010
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Most of our exposure to dangers or risk in the media leaves out a crucially important factor. What is the likelihood of it actually happening to you? If you are told taking a new kind of birth control increases your risk of breast cancer by 20% compared to an existing type, that may sound bad but you have learned nothing useful.

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Unconscious Decision Making

by Stephen Mills January 5, 2010
Light Bulb Brain

One of the most amazing and at the same time unsettling ideas emerging from research in the neurological and psychological sciences in recent decades, is the power and the pervasive nature of automatic unconscious (or nonconscious) thinking. It’s amazing because we have an incredible thinking and problem solving machine operating beneath the conscious level of our awareness. It’s unsettling because it is becoming apparent that some, and probably many, of our decisions are made by unconscious processing before we become consciously aware of them.

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May I Have Your Attention Please

by Stephen Mills December 19, 2009
Currency

What’s the point of me telling you all of this? What you pay attention to matters and it matters a great deal. It matters much more than you think. Even when you are not consciously aware of it, the biggest and most powerful part of your brain is cranking away on what you tell your brain is important. Your non-conscious brain decides what is is important based upon what you are pointing your attention towards. What you are paying attention to now in some degree determines what your non-conscious mind will be paying attention to in the future.

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Optimizing Your Working Memory – Part I

by Stephen Mills November 28, 2009
Working Memory

A lot of new research is showing that cognitive effort depletes your mental resources and you perform significantly worse on subsequent tasks. Make one difficult decision and your ability to make a second difficult decision is reduced. All conscious thinking uses up these resources and the more conscious effort it requires the more the resources are depleted. Will-power and self-control may not seem like the same thing as solving a complex problem, but they too rapidly deplete your brain’s thinking resources.

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