Can I trust ‘Make Your Brain Work’?

When I read a book I like the things it says to be backed up. I like to know why the author is saying what they are. That way I feel like I have the power to make my own mind up about how I use what they are saying. Make Your Brain Work aims to respect that by having ‘experiment’ boxes in each chapter. These boxes look a bit like this:

 

Cake or fruit salad?

The Stanford professor Baba Shiv carried out a fantastic experiment. He thought that “cognitive load” (having lots to hold in your head – a situation most professionals find themselves in) might influence self-control. He gave half his volunteers a two-digit number to remember (representing a low cognitive load) and a seven-digit number to the other half (a high load). The volunteers were then told to walk to another room in the building and in so doing pass a table where they had to choose between chocolate cake or fruit salad. Fifty-nine percent of the people with the high load opted for cake whereas only thirty-seven percent of the low loaded people did.

Shiv speculates that remembering seven numbers required cognitive resources that had to come from somewhere, and in this case were taken from our ability to control our urges! Anatomically this is plausible because working memory (where we ‘store’ the seven or two numbers) and self-control are both located in our prefrontal cortex. The neurons (brain cells) that would normally be helping us make healthy food choices were otherwise engaged in remembering seven numbers. In those instances we have to rely on our more impulsive emotions, like “mmmm yummy – chocolate cake please”.

 

They tend to explain an experiment, along with who led it and what their conclusions were. Then the implications are explained either before or after the box. This way you are empowered to consider if the evidence is enough for you to make any changes to how you do things. It also enables you to investigate further or apply the research in different ways.

Many credible people’s work appear in the book, including, but not limited to:

  • Marcus Raichel – Professor of Radiology, Neurology, Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering
  • David Meyer – professor of mathematical psychology
  • Michael Merzenich – world renound professor of neuroscience
  • Naomi Eisenberger – assistant professor of social psychology
  • Henry Stapp – pivotal quantum physicist
  • Jeffrey Schwartz – medical doctor and neuroplasticity researcher

These are some of the guys from just the first couple of chapters!

So you really can trust Make Your Brain Work to give you great insights into world changing research, and suggestions on how to utilise it.

‘Make Your Brain Work’ will be published by Kogan Page in January 2013

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