Tag Archive: neurology


The shake

Embrace the shake

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pipteinpteron

An artist discovered he could no longer make pointillistic work: instead of nice dots he drew strokes, like those violent, elongated raindrops that strike and hurt your face. When he found his hand trembling he’d used more and more force and the result was a neurological condition called a tremor. He went to see a neurologist and was told he had permanent nerve damage. That hurt. He only ever wanted to become an artist and now he couldn’t draw a straight line or a round dot.

What should he do? Try and learn to draw with his other hand? Get medication to numb the effect? Start all over again and study something different? The neurologist had some advice:

“Embrace the shake.”

You can find the whole story on TED, illustrated with drawings and other works of art. I’d like to look at the advice to embrace his condition…

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http://business.time.com/2013/04/17/dont-multitask-your-brain-will-thank-you/

The ability to juggle work is a standard job requirement.

Researchers have another name for this supposedly desirable skill, however: chronic multitasking.

If this sounds more like an affliction than a resumé booster, that’s because research has shown again and again that the human mind isn’t meant to multitask. Even worse, research shows that multitasking can have long-term harmful effects on brain function.

In a 2009 study, Stanford researcher Clifford Nass challenged http://www.coroflot.com/alankar_vishal/InfoGraphics262 college students to complete experiments that involved switching among tasks, filtering irrelevant information, and using working memory. Nass and his colleagues expected that frequent multitaskers would outperform nonmultitaskers on at least some of these activities.

They found the opposite: Chronic multitaskers were abysmal at all three tasks. The scariest part: Only one of the experiments actually involved multitasking, signaling to Nass that even when they focus on a single activity, frequent multitaskers use their brains less effectively.

https://i0.wp.com/24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lvnx8g23i81qzg7rxo1_400.jpg

Multitasking is a weakness, not a strength. In 2010, a study by neuroscientists at the French medical research agency Inserm showed that when people focus on two tasks simultaneously, each side of the brain tackles a different task.

This suggests a two-task limit on what the human brain can handle. Taking on more tasks increases the likelihood of errors, so Nass suggests what he calls the 20-minute rule. Rather than switching tasks from minute to minute, dedicate a 20-minute chunk of time to a single task, then switch to the next one.

His second tip: “Don’t be a sucker for email.” The average professional spends about 23 percent of the day emailing, studies show. Inspired by that statistic, Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, and her colleague Stephen Voida infiltrated an office, cut 13 employees off from email for five days, strapped heart monitors to their chests, and tracked their computer use. Not surprisingly, the employees were less stressed when cut off from email. They focused on one task for longer periods of time and switched screens less often, thereby minimizing multitasking.

Mark and Voida encourage business owners and their employees to check emails a few scheduled times per day and turn email notifications off the rest of the time. Adds Voida: “Quick questions are often better asked face to face or by phone, where they don’t add to the huge amount of email we’re already dealing with.”

The Virtues of a Wandering Mind

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/science/29tier.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&

  

A wandering mind can protect you from immediate perils and keep you on course toward long-term goals. Sometimes daydreaming is counterproductive, but sometimes it fosters creativity and helps you solve problems.

Mind wandering, as psychologists define it, is a subcategory of daydreaming, which is the broad term for all stray thoughts and fantasies, including those moments you deliberately set aside to imagine yourself winning the lottery or accepting the Nobel. But when you’re trying to accomplish one thing and lapse into “task-unrelated thoughts,” that’s mind wandering.

But mind wandering clearly seems to be a dubious strategy, if, for example, you’re tailgating a driver who suddenly brakes. Or, to cite activities that have actually been studied in the laboratory, when you’re sitting by yourself reading “War and Peace” or “Sense and Sensibility.”

If your mind is elsewhere while your eyes are scanning Tolstoy’s or Austen’s words, you’re wasting your own time. You’d be better off putting down the book and doing something more enjoyable or productive than “mindless reading,” as researchers call it.

But during some episodes of mind wandering, both networks are firing simultaneously, according to a study led by Kalina Christoff of the University of British Columbia. Why both networks are active is up for debate. One school theorizes that the executive network is working to control the stray thoughts and put the mind back on task.

Another school of psychologists, which includes the Santa Barbara researchers, theorizes that both networks are working on agendas beyond the immediate task. That theory could help explain why studies have found that people prone to mind wandering also score higher on tests of creativity, like the word-association puzzle mentioned earlier. Perhaps, by putting both of the brain networks to work simultaneously, these people are more likely to realize that the word that relates to eye, gown and basket is ball, as in eyeball, ball gown and basketball.

To encourage this creative process, Dr. Schooler says, it may help if you go jogging, take a walk, do some knitting or just sit around doodling, because relatively undemanding tasks seem to free your mind to wander productively. But you also want to be able to catch yourself at the Eureka moment.

“For creativity you need your mind to wander,” Dr. Schooler says, “but you also need to be able to notice that you’re mind wandering and catch the idea when you have it. If Archimedes had come up with a solution in the bathtub but didn’t notice he’d had the idea, what good would it have done him?”

E from Neurochoreography

attended the Neurochoreography lecture yesterday and down with sunstroke…………….but ’twas  well worth it………..one of a kind and a lot to learn – both – from the subject and the speaker as well .

Excerpts from the presentation –

series  of lectures + 7 dance numbers ………. not boring at all , ……..as the main dancer explained in her introduction  , since it was an experimental  theme……..the focus would not entirely be on core classical bharatanatyam………….so there were ballet splits………. an acrobatic- type dance to show one of the neuronal themes…….western instrumental music accompanying indian classical dance- overall a visual /auditory……..no , a total aesthetic treat .

The best part to me , was the speaker …….an eminent neurosurgeon …………………but what strikes one immediately   is the stark simplicity of the man –  in  his  dressing ( when will  i learn ????????????  i doubt in this lifetime )……….blending into the audience  really and his unassuming demeanor …………you realize  the dancer was not exaggerating  when she described him – as ” so simple, humble and modest “………………..  a rare breed . He took the lecture from science to arts …… blending them and ended  with – spirituality.

  • first was an introduction – parts of brain – lobes etc. brain states are body states
  • neurophilosophy/neuroaesthetics – dance of the brain
  • we automatically tap our feet to the music
  • PET scans of the brain reveal inner choreography
  • every proton/atom in the brain undergoes the dance of creation- destruction………………….(.i luved  this  metaphor- all life is but  a dance of creation and destruction……….and beyond ………)
  • The BODY MANDALA –  the space surrounding the movements of the body – when dancing –PERIPERSONAL SPACE
  • EXTRAPERSONAL SPACE
  • body schema – dance moves at unconscious level – gracefully
  • kinetic – one performs movements in brain virtually
  • ingredients of dance
  1. rhythm
  2. coordination
  3. balance
  4. multisensory integration
  5. emotions – amygdala
  6. motor activation

Ended with a beautiful definition of dance  – something like – quadri……….quintessential………….should luk it up.

Last but definitely not the least  ……………. his   correlation between- mind -body -spirit……………lllluved the way he put in words – pure  literary treat ” natya shastra to veda …..from veda to yoga …………shiva the dancer – in the nataraja pose- explained by a pic

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/98/WLANL_-_23dingenvoormusea_-_Shiva_Nataraja.jpg

he controls the demons /negativities with his foot , at the same time balancing and maintaining a graceful posture………to have balance in thought , word and deed………and an undisturbed serenity/tranquility in his face – the ultimate goal of   life ..from ananda to anantha ……… if  dancing in bliss to the divine dance……….will help us reach the tao of lao …….the zen of zenith…… the nirvana of the buddha  …………

intercepted with quotes by poets and neurologists……..wordsworth, oliver sacks etc.

heard m.s’ s  madhurashtakam used in one of the pieces…….

everything is interconnected now ……….  arts-science-spirituality……mind-body-spirit

reflected by wordsworth’s quote in the lecture “ And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.   (  http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/daffodils/ )

events in march  – 3rd , 17th ,   10th and 24th .

http://www.hindu.com/lr/2011/03/06/stories/2011030650160500.htm

The literary café is the most exciting part of the biennial Jerusalem Book Fair. In this open, informal and civilised space — in fact, so civilised that it has a working coffee counter right next to a makeshift stage — take place the encounters with the literary giants of home and abroad. I was witness to one such interaction last week: The man on the spot was Britain’s foremost writer today: Ian McEwan, winner of the Jerusalem Prize, and the man who expertly drew him out, with an understated knowledge of literary technique and rapier sharp wit, was Meir Shelev, himself a renowned Israeli novelist.

He paid homage to other recipients before him, people who had “rearranged his mind.” The list that begins with the philosopher Bertrand Russell includes Simone de Beauvoir who provided special insights into relationships and Isaiah Berlin who had shown the “dangers of Utopia” as well as fiction writers Arthur Miller and Milan Kundera whose fiction “swayed and entranced him”.

From the prize itself to the city after which it is named was a natural jump. Shelev trawled out the not-so-complimentary reactions to Jerusalem of some famous writers. Herman Melville, on visiting Jerusalem, said that “Jerusalem is surrounded by cemeteries and dead people are its strongest guild.” Actually, though Shelev did not venture that far, Melville said much more and his descriptions would never make it to a tourist brochure. He thought that Jerusalem looks at you “like a cold, gray eye in a cold, old man……Stony mountains & stony plains; stony walls & stony fields; stony houses & stony tombs; stony eyes & stony hearts. Before you and behind you are stones.” Gogol was so affected by the city that on his return he burnt the second half of Dead Souls. McEwan agrees that the city has a “sense of echo” and could well destroy his novel in progress. Like a sudden journey, which can startle you with a new insight into life and make everything written earlier sound meaningless and trite.

However, the city’s preoccupation with religion does not get to him. Ever the outspoken rationalist, he proclaims his atheism and the absence of any divine force dictating the affairs of men. “Most things that happen in life are random. You may not have been born if, say on one evening in 1948, your mother had decided to stay in and wash her hair instead of going out to a party where she met this nice young man.” Much in the same manner, he proclaims, the novel is constructed of a series of coincidences that enable the interaction between characters and move the action forward. When the conversation turns, as inevitably such conversations turn nowadays, to the issue of the survival of a novel, McEwan offers an irresistible rationale for its survival: “Human beings are social animals, profoundly curious about each other’s lives.

The novel is a kind of higher form of gossip and is sustained by our curiosity about others. It satisfies our gossipy instincts. Jane Austen was the greatest and most gossipy of novelists.”

But it is of the novella, a form with which he has had “an enduring love affair,” that he talks enthusiastically. It is this genre that he enjoys most; even On Chesil Beach is only 39000 words long; it enables the writer to move the story ahead at a tremendous speed, leaving no place for sub-plots. In a way he is a miniaturist: a confined place — whether in space or time — seems to bring out the best in him, the little visual detail, the description of every half-movement, the cranking up of the literary tension, bit by bit.

He likes gaps between books, he “tries to let some life go by.” As he said in an interview some time ago: “I’m very cautious about starting anything without letting time go, and feeling it’s got to come out. I’m quite good at not writing. Some people are tied to five hundred words a day, six days a week. I’m a hesitater.” When he does start writing, it is a tentative process – putting down fragments¸ introducing characters to see what they would do. He is elated by surprises, the surprise of a particular adjective appearing before a noun or a character making a sudden move; “in fact”, he says, “a character should surprise you.” As one would expect, McEwan writes down ideas, images, and phrases as they come in a spiral notebook. He relates how once, when writing notes in a café, he lost his notebook, leaving him with a feeling of tremendous loss. Until one day, eighteen months later, the notebook landed, in a brown envelope, with a thud on his doormat. On re-reading it, he discovered that it did not contain a single worthy thought!

http://www.hindu.com/lr/2011/03/06/stories/2011030650030200.htm

I wondered aloud if the pen, like the camera, was also a torch. He wasn’t sure of it. But the question of desire remained – of camera and pen as tools of desire. I was reminded of a line by Robert Bresson, about how the art of cinema is to “make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen”. I concluded: reality is blind, but so are we. Unless we are able to “in-see”, to use Rilke’s word, and lighten up the invisible. Not in order to strip what is invisible, but to illuminate its hidden-ness.

As we walked our different ways, I recollected the lines from one of his remarkably simple poems, which captures the friendly otherness he exuded in conversation:

We walked together.

We did not know each other.

But we knew walking together.

Later in the evening I met James Kelman. I had heard him read from his controversial Booker-winning novel, How Late It Was, How Late, with the same amount of passion with which he must have written it more than a decade ago. The novel became infamous as the great “f-novel”, irritating many including Martin Amis. But Kelman’s supposed nonsense with language is strictly no-nonsense, depressing, dismal, dark and full of the drudgery of working-class life. His prose, defiantly introspective and interspersed with slang, counters the grammar and phonetics of the English language he learnt to resist.

I caught Kelman, walking alone, a little lost, near the music-stage area. I told him I found the repetitive expressions in his prose an unavoidable technique for registering troubled memory. I mentioned Jacques Lacan. Kelman had read Freud and was interested in psychoanalysis. We discussed the disturbing, neurological phenomenon of the unconscious, where it draws upon the mode of insistence to relive certain traumas, and manifests itself into pathological repetition. Kelman saw vulgarity critically: as a burden for the poor, the wayward and the out of place, for whom cursing and cussing are part of a life which is thrust violently upon them. Kelman wouldn’t abandon that language to gain any other literary merit. His alert, vagabond eyes, and his smoky, alcoholic voice, meant what they said. He didn’t mince words: “We were told to look down upon our own culture and eulogise everything British. You couldn’t stomach it, could you?” He didn’t. The seat of his passions unseated elite, literary appetites.

To hear Pamuk is to hear a naughty and candid adolescent in the heart of an exquisitely thoughtful man. He talks without airs, and with a moving honesty. Hearing him is an undetectable process of learning about the art of writing. Pamuk called the advent of literature in his life as a growing illumination of the “dark corners” of his mind. I thought of the relationship between darkness and the unconscious. That brought certain preoccupations of all three writers together. It reminded me of Kundera’s quoting the Czech poet Jan Skacel: Poets don’t invent poems / The poem is somewhere behind / It’s been there for a long time / The poet merely discovers it. Writing, Kundera explains, “means breaking through a wall behind which something… lies hidden in darkness”. In that sense, writing, like cinema, reveals to us our existing, human possibilities.