Cubicles… or not

“We consider it ‘inhumane’ to keep a gorilla in an indoor, concrete environment with no exposure to greenery or anything resembling its natural habitat, and yet we put ourselves in these environments all the time.”

~ Laura Smith

Read this article in the The Atlantic that discusses how human beings’ original workplace was outdoors, and we still yearn for that environment. However, as Stephen Kellert says, “The measure of progress in our civilization is not embracing nature, but moving away from nature and transcending nature and becoming independent of our biology.”

Counteracting this trend, European initiatives aim to place people outside in nature as a therapeutic treatment. Finnish researcher Kalevi Korpela helped develop a series of Well-Being Trails in Finland, France, Luxembourg and Sweden that provide forest therapy for trail walkers.

Taking time to notice the nature around you while you’re walking may not only may relax you, but might also help you discover more creative ideas.


Say it out loud…

“This result suggests that if you are studying material, you might want to identify those bits of information that are most important to remember and to speak those bits aloud while studying. Even a whisper will help to make those items more memorable.”

~ Art Markman

If you want to remember something, it apparently helps to say the item out loud or make it distinctive in some way.


Break out your walking shoes

“While being outdoors has many cognitive benefits, walking appears to have a very specific benefit of improving creativity,”

~ Marily Oppezzo

In a recent study, researchers found that people who went for a walk came up with twice as many ideas as those who sat at a desk. However, participants sitting at a desk performed better when answering questions with only one right answer.

Taking a walk prior to an event that requires creativity can also confer lasting benefits. So, before that big meeting or interview, it may pay to take a walk.

“Computer says no”

“Non-coders often associate programming with math, but researchers have used fMRI readings to discover a possible link to the language processing centers of our brains.”

~ Tina Amirtha

In this article, computer scientist Janet Siegmund, lead author of a study on whether computer science fall into the language area of the brain, claims that “it appears to be related.” There is also a debate over whether coding courses should count toward fulfilling math or foreign language requirements at universities.

Based on my own experience with these subjects, I have found almost no overlap between coding and language, and more so between math and coding. And computer science professionals with whom I’ve discussed this idea have vehemently denied coding is anything like learning a foreign language. I tend to agree.

What are your thoughts?

Brain Reserve

Read this article about traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which confirms that the more a person works with his/her brain prior to a brain injury, the greater the chance that person can come back successfully from the injury. Brain training can actually make all the difference in a full or near-full recovery from a TBI.

Training one’s brain either through schooling or other activities appears to build Brain Reserve or Cognitive Reserve that seems to protect the brain from developing or exhibiting Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Just how does this work?

“One idea (called Brain Reserve by researchers) pos­tu­lates that some indi­vid­u­als have a greater num­ber of neu­rons and synapses, and that some­how those extra struc­tures pro­vide a level of pro­tec­tion. In a sense, we have more ‘hard­ware,’ pro­vid­ing a pas­sive pro­tec­tion against the attacks of Alzheimer’s. The other the­ory (called Cog­ni­tive Reserve) empha­sizes the build­ing of new capa­bil­i­ties, how peo­ple can per­form tasks bet­ter through prac­tice, and how these skills become so well learned that they are not too easy to unlearn. Like devel­op­ing new and refined ‘software.'” ~ Dr. Yaakov Stern

The more people strengthen their brains at any stage in life, the better off they are.