Tuesday, December 2, 2014

You Have A Big Head! Make It Last

A phrenology chart: "Know Thyself" which labels 37 parts of your brain such as:
firmness, self-esteem, memory, time, friendship...

I don't know about you, but I think the Holiday season can be a little overwhelming. Each year it seems that the my to do list doubles when December 1st hits. How much more can my brain handle? How can I use my mind to find peace and also accomplish the million things I need to between Thanksgiving and New Years?

Let me start off by stating, I am not a phrenologist. A what? A phrenologist is a scientist who studies the brain.

However, along the way, I have become fascinated by how big our brains are, how they work and how they continue to grow, literally. I also am an educator who realizes the importance of following brain research and what it tells us about understanding our diverse group of learners.

Over the last 300 million years, our brain size has tripled. Yep, way back when, they had small brains, we have big ones! Aren't you curious as to why and what that means? Your brain is a machine, YOUR machine which gets you where you are going every day. If you don't take care of it, you may just lose your mind...

Size does matter:
Our brains are completely fascinating. If you are curious as to what all your brain can do, according to phrenologist, here is a list. It will blow your mind what you are capable of. Since the size of the human brain has grow significantly over the years, we have the opportunity and capacity to do bigger and better things.

Which side are you on? The question pops up all the time, "is he/she left or right brained?". Who cares? You have two hemispheres! Use them both. Sure, you may think with one side more than the other, but recognize that and be blessed you have both sides to help you through life. In case you need a refresher on which side of the brain connect to your who you are, livescience.com explains:

  • The left hemisphere is dominant in language: processing what you hear and handling most of the duties of speaking. It's also in charge of carrying out logic and exact mathematical computations. When you need to retrieve a fact, your left brain pulls it from your memory.
  • The right hemisphere is mainly in charge of spatial abilities, face cognition and processing music. It performs some math, but only rough estimations and comparisons. The brain's right side also helps us to comprehend visual imagery and make sense of what we see. It plays a role in language, particularly in interpreting context and a person's tone.

Free your mind:  Your brain was created to interpret, challenge, assess and resolve things that happen in your environment. Therefore, your brain is constantly evolving. Over the last twenty years researchers have uncovered and confirmed that brain degeneration  and damage can be reversed. It is all based on how stimulated your brain activity is. Since then, many have developed brain games, and activities which they market as ways to stimulate your brain, to keep it active. Beware. Recent research shares that brain training apps or programs such as Luminosity, don't actually increase brain memory, nor is there compelling evidence to support an increase in cognitive functioning. Dr. Michael Merzenich, a famous and respected neuroscientist explains that because the brain is comprised of over 100 billion neurons, it is important that we keep these neurons busy and useful. He is known for us extensive research in brain plasticity (no our brains are not like tupperware).  It was once was believed that our brains became permanent at a certain age, thanks to Dr. Merzenich, we know now that our brain continues to build new pathways and avenues of learning throughout our life as long we keep ourselves exposed and experiencing new things. Take a different way home, pick up a new hobby, meet someone new, or just take the time to be a life-long learner.

This is your brain on music:  The holiday season brings many traditions, special moments and can be music to our ears. Did you know that listening to your favorite songs can actually keep you healthy? One recent study observed patients who were about to undergo surgery. Participants were randomly assigned to either listen to music or take anti-anxiety drugs. Scientists tracked patient's ratings of their own anxiety, as well as the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. What happened? The patients who listened to music had less anxiety and lower cortisol than people who took drugs. While this is just one study, it does point out a powerful medicinal use for music. We know that music is less expensive than drugs and easier on the body (unless you dive into a mosh pit). The study also highlighted evidence that music is "associated with immunoglobulin A, an antibody linked to immunity, as well as higher counts of cells that fight germs and bacteria."

This holiday season, use your brain:  keep yourself healthy and listen to your favorite music. Live longer and learn to experience new things with those you love!

My favorite song of the season...now you have have it running through your brain all day.
Sing it Blue Eyes...

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