Boost Your Brilliant Brain

Seeking your very own light-bulb moment? One neuroscientist says it comes down to overcoming your brain’s natural laziness, Tori  Lawrence writes.

The brain is “a lazy piece of meat” and it’ll take the easiest path it can. So if you want to maximise your potential, it’s up to you to work it, says neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, author of Iconoclast: A neuroscientist reveals how to think differently (Harvard Business Press, $55).

The problem with shortcuts

According to Professor Berns, the brain runs on about 40 watts of power the same as a dim light bulb. With all the data it has to churn through at any one moment, the brain has to be energy efficient. So when your eye takes in information, the brain quickly processes it using whatever shortcuts it can. It’s accessing the sum total of what you’ve previously seen to categorise information as fast as possible.

But it’s this same efficiency that makes it hard to come up with new ideas, even when you really, really try. Even the genius impressionist Henri Matisse struggled with this. He once commented that there was nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose. “Before he can do so,” he said, “he has first of all to forget all the roses that were ever painted.” (more…)

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