Neuroscience Around the Web – Issue 11

Here are some interesting studies I found on the web recently:

Meditation Is not for Everyone

Workplace meditation and mindfulness programmes have become a $1billion business. But, meditation is not for everyone. In fact, 25% of meditators "have had a 'particularly unpleasant' psychological experience related to the practice, including feelings of fear and distorted emotions."

To Excel at Work, Become a Polymath

How to excel at your work? Cultivate a variety of interests. This is called polymathy."A survey of 20th-century Nobel prizes revealed that many of the science laureates were accomplished outside the lab." Albert Einstein was an amateur violinist. "More than half of science laureates had “at least one artistic avocation, and almost all had an enduring hobby, from chess to insect collecting; one quarter were musicians; and 18 per cent practised visual arts such as drawing or painting.”And it's what we may need "to deal with complex challenges such as climate change."

Rethinking Annual Performance Reviews

Does your organization do annual performance reviews? Here's an article summarizing why annual assessments are not a good idea.

"Formal attempts to rate employees don’t ... meaningfully improve employee performance or give companies any sort of competitive advantage,.""Brain imaging research [posits] that even high-performing employees automatically go into a defence mode during performance reviews, turning a supposedly productive meeting into a fight-or-flight scenario.

"What to do instead? "Check in on employees every day and give them real-time feedback on things they’re doing well and areas where they can improve."

Any Activity We do Habitually, Even Playing a Game, Will Change the Brain 

Any activity that we do habitually over a period of time, even playing a game, will change the brain. That's called neuroplasticity. Here's an unexpected example of neuroplasticity: A specific part of the brains of adults who played pokemon extensively since childhood now lights up to images of pokemon characters! The region that lights up is the occipitiotemporal sulcus, located just behind the ears. This region normally responds to images of animals, which pokemon characters resemble. 

This is why we need to choose our activities wisely.


Oohs, aahs, and uh-ohs Convey Emotion Too

Emotions are conveyed not only through our speech and non-verbal communication. Humans make many vocal bursts that are not words, but which also convey emotion. These vocal bursts "fit into at least two dozen distinct categories including amusement, anger, awe, confusion, contempt, contentment, desire, disappointment, disgust, distress, ecstasy, elation, embarrassment, fear, interest, pain, realization, relief, sadness, surprise (positive) surprise (negative), sympathy and triumph."

If you click on the image, you'll be able to hear these exclamations.

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