Effective mental function is a basic human survival necessity and in the modern environment of today this is no less true than throughout our evolution. It can be useful to consider the brain as the physical hardware and our mind as the operating system that runs on this hardware. There is considerable overlap in discussing the use of the brain and the use of the mind. Understanding the hardware and its limitations is very insightful for optimal use of our consciousness with our mind.
According to Dr Theo Compernolle the brain is a huge network of networks, with approximately 80 billion neurons, as well as the glial cells that play a role in information processing. After extensive research he has presented his findings inclear and easily readable form that is difficult to put down! This information provides useful insight for those wishing to improve their thinking.
Using the brain effectively
In this episode of “Living outside the Matrix” Dr Compernolle describes the brain as networks of networks of networks, and makes the analogy of three distinct brains or functioning networks and once we understand the differences between them we can appreciate that multitasking just doesn’t work. Another of the many modern myths exploded!
The Reflex Brain
The oldest part of the brain in evolutionary terms and is said to be about 600 million years old. It deals with sensory input and we share this brain function with all other animals. It is completely focuses in the present moment and deals with all sensory input at lightning speed. It is stimulus orientated.
The reflex brain is the part of our brain that is reactionary, it responds, and it is engaged when we are using information technology such as using the Internet or lost gazing into the world of our smart phone.
The Reflecting (Thinking) Brain
This is a more recently evolved part of the brain and it distinguishes us humans from all other animals because it enables us to conceptualise. This means the ability to see patterns in reality and take out (or abstract) their common features and then integrate these into a concept that represents an infinite number of specific concrete examples. For instance recognising many different tall plants with a single solid stem from the ground and forming the concept – tree.
The reflecting brain can contemplate the past and the future, it can imagine things that are not here, or that do not even exist yet. It can consider a lifetime as a span of years and make plans, it can anticipate, prepare and evaluate. This brain network is goal orientated.
Some apes and even cats and dogs can reflect to some degree. However, this is more from associational learning and not from any capacity to conceptualise.
Some of the new technologies that are designed to help us multitask actually prevent us from using our reflecting brains effectively. They can end up being an obstacle to conceptual reflection by keeping us locked in the sensory moment. This is why it is so important to be aware of the brains limitations and to therefore use information technology appropriately. That means stay conscious of how we are using it, and keep it in its rightful place. Disconnect to reflect.
The Archiving Brain
The archiving brain is the network in our brain that does exactly that, yet it competes for processing power with the reflecting brain. Contrary to modern myth that we only use 5% of our brains capacity, the processing power is used at 100% and shared between the reflecting and archiving networks. The archiving cannot take place while the reflecting network is active. We have to disconnect and rest (or sleep) for the data storage function to kick in.
Give up multitasking
The reflective brain is an amazing piece of kit but it can only be focused on one thing at a time. It cannot multitask. It is a serial processor. Every time we switch task our thinking brain has to close the open files, collect relevant new information from long term memory that is required for the new task, and then reverse this procedure afterwards.
Dr Compernolle offers a simple test to prove that your mental efficiency is compromised by attempting to multitask. Firstly, you write the word “multitask” and then write corresponding numbers beneath each letter afterwards. Second time around you write each letter of the word and then stop to write the corressponding number beneath it then return to the next letter. This simple exercise will demonstrate experienctially that multitasking is not what your thinking brain is wired for. If you want your brain to operate on a more efficient level – stop trying to multitask.
And yes, it’s a myth that women are better at multitasking than men. Neither sex can efficiently do it, although women may have other mental habits that make it appear they can multitask better.
Batch process to increase efficiency
The alternative is to remain focused without distraction. In terms of our use of ICT this means not being distratced by popup notifications, it means batch processing emails and grouping meeting slots together. It means doing like tasks in groups and not stopping and starting many different ones.
The 5 Brain chains
- Always being connected.
- Being seduced into attempting to multitask.
- The sabotaging effect of the chronic stress due to constant connection.
- Not getting enough sleep.
- The open plan office.
The Three Commandments
In closing, Dr. Compernolle’s advice can be summarized into the following “Three Commandments,”
- Ruthlessly, radically eradicate multitasking.
- Disconnect from electronic media to reflect — so you can use your thinking brain.
- Disconnect to have a break for your reflecting brain to recuperate and for your archiving brain to archive.
PLUS – Never ever use your phone while driving
There are 2 other techniques we can use towards thinking and acting (i.e. living) more effectively. They invlove making sure our brain is correctly nourished by eating an appropriate diet rich in healthy fats. Because our brain is made up mostly of fat. Secondly it is important to use our consciousness correctly. This means developing efficient psychological habits and ways of thinking, such as thinking in priciples, keeping a braod context, deliberately integrating information into a non contradictory some of knowledge and making sure all our terms are accurately defined. All of these will be covered in an upcoming course available here at www.lawfulrebel.com.
And for my top ten tips for clearer thinking follow this link.
As always, I hope you have got some value from this Post and/or Podcast.