Category: Brain Science and Health

The Key To Success

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TEDResearch shows that kids with lots of grit (and less mental ability) are more successful than kids with lots of mental ability (but less grit). In this video, researcher and psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth extols the virtues of grit, saying that “grittier” kids—those who try harder and don’t give up over the long haul—do better in school. For that matter, “grittier” adults do better in their jobs and goals, too. In fact, when it comes to success, Dr. Duckworth says “grit” is a better indicator of future success than IQ.

So how do we build grit in kids and adults? Dr. Duckworth says the best idea she’s heard so far is something called “growth mindset.” She quotes Stanford University’s Dr. Carol Dweck who says that  “growth mindset” is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with effort. According to Dr. Dweck, when kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re more likely to persevere when they fail.

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Smarter

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smarter

Dan Hurley is the award-winning science journalist who, last year, wrote The New York Times article “The Brain Trainers” in which LearningRx was featured. His latest book, Smarter, has just been released. In the book, Hurley takes a look at the science and the methods associated with what he calls the “new field of intelligence research.” In the process, he devotes six pages to describing his visit to a LearningRx center and his conversations with various parents and students.

His observations are fascinating. After a couple paragraphs in which he points out the need for more published research (he also seems to find it odd that LearningRx is organized as a franchise, “like MacDonald’s”), Hurley dives into talking about two of LearningRx’s most important distinctives: the one-on-one training model, and the dramatic results experienced by LearningRx clients.

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A Doorway to the Heart

Stare into Each Other's Eyes

Love at first sight? Thousands say it has happened to them, while skeptics just roll their eyes. But what if the adage “there’s more to it than meets the eye” is true about the connection between visual contact and romance?

Research studies show that locking eyes nourishes relational intimacy and is a dominant theme in couples falling in love in cultures across the world. Early theologian St. Augustine described the eyes as “the windows to the soul.” With deep, personal eye contact you are inviting another to look beyond your retinal lens into your thoughts and emotions.

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A Loving Touch

Bear

Everyone knows not to go anywhere near a mama bear and her cubs. The maternal bond is truly fierce, and not just in animals! Human moms share a strong bond with their babies, too (so strong that particularly protective mothers are often compared to their furry animal counterparts!)

There is a biological reason for the ferocity of the maternal bond: oxytocin. During childbirth, the mother’s pituitary gland, which is a tiny almond sized gland towards the back of the brain, produces oxytocin, pumping it throughout the body. As the mother’s brain is flooded with oxytocin, a number of fascinating things happen. Oxytocin acts as a muscle contractor, speeding up labor. It plays a role in preparing the mother’s body to breastfeed. Finally, it fosters an emotional bond between mom and baby that is so strong, researchers say it actually dims the memory of the pain of childbirth.

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What Creative Thinking Looks Like

 What does solving a financial dilemma, remodeling a house, crafting a speech, and even dressing up your dogs and playing make-believe with your kids have in common? All these activities can benefit from the use of creative thinking. In other words, creative thinking isn’t just for writers and artists.

So what do we know about the mysterious process of creativity?

In the sixties, Dr. Sarnoff Mednick concluded that creativity is the result of connecting random bits of information to create new and original ideas. He went on to say that the more remote the bits of information are from each other, the more creative the idea.

Today, neuroscientists are discovering that, in the brain, that’s what creative thinking actually looks like.

In the brain, neuron cells are greyish in color, while the axons that connect neurons to each other are white. These axons—called white matter—create the pathways in our brain through which thoughts and information are communicated. In other words, more white matter means more communication going on in the brain.

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