The Brain’s Hidden Shortcuts

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The Brain’s Emergency Failsafe

brain_roadmapYou leave work for the day, but the road you usually take is closed for construction. Do you panic? Stay at the office? Of course not! You simply take another route home.  It turns out our brains do the same thing.  Researchers found that if the area of the brain associated with learning and memory, the hippocampus, is damaged, our clever minds simply reroute the path of information between neurons. Think of it like this: if the direct neural “highway” has a jam, the impulse diverts onto a frontage road, then veers to a surface street before connecting with the interstate and completing its task, in this case memory and cognition. The prefrontal cortex takes over and absorbs some of the work meant for the hippocampus.   

According to UCLA neuroscience researcher Michael Fanselow, from a starting point of any given neuron, information can maneuver to its intended destination via electrical impulse in roughly six steps. The brain works like the Six Degrees of Separation to Kevin Bacon game and is sophisticated enough to do it even when encountering roadblocks. 

Fanselow goes on to explain how “behavior creates molecular changes in the brain”. The physical structure of the brain actually changes based on our behavior and experiences. We can literally “change our minds” at a level measurable by PET brain scans.  

It is absolutely possible to overcome mental barriers of sluggishness, confusion, and forgetfulness, especially with coaching. The Simply Smarter program works to train your brain to solve everyday problems resulting in quicker, more effective thinking. We think it’s worth your time, and invite you to read Claribel’s story here, and get started today with the Simply Smarter approach.  

Create Powerful Habits

We all know the struggle of trying to quit a bad habit. Reader’s Digest ranks ten common ones people say they’d like to break as: excessive snacking, tv watching, overspending, eating fast food, getting sunburned, negative thinking, skipping breakfast, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and overusing medications. If negative thinking is one of your bad habits too, perhaps it’s easier to think of the things you’re doing wrong and need to fix.  

While ditching these unwanted compulsions is an important step, don’t forget about the reverse benefits of intentionally picking up healthy habits. Not to kick you while you’re down and make a new list of things you “should” be doing, but how about this: swap a good for a bad in one fell swoop. Consider the life-changing potential of acquiring good habits such as rising early, reading more, and getting to the gym.  

By using a few behavior shortcuts, we can tap into our Pavlovian response system to learn to like new things and lose interest in others. In The Power of Habitauthor Charles Duhigg offers a formula for changing habits based on what he calls a system of “cues and rewards” wherein we trick our minds into craving certain conditions. He claims this method can be applied to kicking old habits as well as forming new desireable ones.  

You can listen to an interview with Duhigg here.

Learn more about what Simply Smarter has to offer and start building your mental resiliency today.