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Mind Hacks and the Placebo Effect

Placebo effect, mind hacksIn the ETech panel a few days ago, we dis­cussed some futur­is­tic and some emerg­ing ways in which we can “hack our minds”, mostly from a tech­nol­ogy point of view.

Nei­ther myself nor the other pan­elists thought of sug­gest­ing the most obvi­ous and inex­pen­sive method, proven in thou­sands of research studies.

The secret com­pound?: Belief. Also called “the placebo effect”. Let’s see what Wikipedia says:

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Training: the Art and the emerging Science

Tom alerts us (thanks!) of a fun book review in the New York Times today, by Abi­gail Zuger, titled The Brain: Mal­leable, Capa­ble, Vul­ner­a­ble, on the book The Brain That Changes Itself (Viking, $24.95) by psy­chi­a­trist Nor­man Doidge. Some quotes:

  • In book­stores, the sci­ence aisle gen­er­ally lies well away from the self-help sec­tion, with hard real­ity on one set of shelves and wish­ful think­ing on the other. But Nor­man Doidge’s fas­ci­nat­ing syn­op­sis of the cur­rent rev­o­lu­tion in neu­ro­science strad­dles this gap: the age-old dis­tinc­tion between the brain and the mind is crum­bling fast as the power of pos­i­tive think­ing finally gains sci­en­tific credibility.”
  • So it is for­giv­able that Dr. Doidge, a Cana­dian psy­chi­a­trist and award-winning sci­ence writer, recounts the accom­plish­ments of the “neu­ro­plas­ti­cians,”  as he calls the neu­ro­sci­en­tists involved in these new stud­ies, with breath­less rev­er­ence. Their work is indeed mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff, with impli­ca­tions, as Dr. Doidge notes, not only for indi­vid­ual patients with neu­ro­logic dis­ease but for all human beings, not to men­tion human cul­ture, human learn­ing and human history.”
  • Research into the mal­leabil­ity of the nor­mal brain has been no less amaz­ing. Sub­jects who learn to play a sequence of notes on the piano develop char­ac­ter­is­tic changes in the brain’s elec­tric activ­ity; when other sub­jects sit in front of a piano and just think about play­ing the same notes, the same changes occur. It is the vir­tual made real, a solid quan­tifi­ca­tion of the power of thought.”
  • The new sci­ence of the brain may still be in its infancy, but already, as Dr. Doidge makes quite clear, the sci­en­tific minds are leap­ing ahead.”

Here you have some of our inter­views with a few “sci­en­tific minds” that have, for years, been “leap­ing ahead” beyond “pos­i­tive think­ing” into “pos­i­tive training”:

And a cou­ple of related blog posts:

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