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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sleep on it

If you've ever toiled with a difficult decision or just couldn't solve that homework problem, you've probably heard your parent or spouse tell you to "just sleep on it". Well, that is sound advice and there is something to it.

Sleep, more accurately, sound, uninterrupted sleep has a specific cognitive purpose. According to Richard Restak's book Think Smart (2009), Matthew Walker, director of the sleep and imaging laboratory at Beth Deaconess Medical Center in Boston states, "The more the brain learns, the more it demands from sleep at night." Getting a good night's sleep increases efficiency and helps you perform at your best. Your brain takes the skills learned from the day, organizes and consolidates information and prepares it for access. So, "in short, if you learn something while awake, you can increase your chances of remembering it by sleeping on it".

The Fascinating Brain

I started reading and researching the brain and neuroscience about a year ago. I've been fascinated by this unique organ since my first psychology class in high school. What an amazing piece of architecture. No other organ in our bodies becomes more efficient as its cells die or reduce. I've learned that IQ is not fixed. We can all get smarter, constantly learn and improve the quality of our cognitive abilities by eating right and exercising.

In this blog I will share some interesting facts about the brain, what neuroscientists and doctors suggest to delay memory loss, and how to increase the cognitive capacity for learning, especially for students. I've come across some excellent websites that provide very basic explanations for the complex workings of the brain. I'll post the sites as I come across them. In case your interested and have spare time, MIT has announced free Online Course Ware, (OCW) for the public. There is an excellent site for neuroscience and many more academic subjects. It is all free, open to the public and their philosophy is to provide anyone interested in improving his/her knowledge with the means to do so. Pretty impressive.

My first question is-What is smart? Is intelligence reflective of the subject tested and the instrument used. For example, a person who scores high on an WISC IQ test, does that mean he is intelligent or just intelligent on the test items encountered? I've met a few people in my life that are able to write prose and poetry with unbridled grace, yet cannot assemble a piece of furniture without great difficulty. So, what is intelligence?