Flex your cortex: 7 secrets to turbocharge your brain | Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D. | TEDxBayArea

  • Sandra: Inspired to join field of neuroscience after watching non-verbal autistic 11 year old display mechanical genius 

    • Dedicated to understanding, protecting and healing the brain 

  • "We’ve learned more in the last 5 years than all the years cumulative” - 2014 

    • It typically takes 1-2 generations before scientific discoveries trickle down to make meaningful differences in our lives 

  • What harms the brain and what makes it work better

    • Peak brain years = early 40s 

      • 7 Secrets to prevent cognitive decline: 

  • 1. Single Task

    • Brain designed to do one thing at a time

      • Increases mental productivity  

    • Multitasking hijacks the “smartest engine” the frontal lobes : degrades your brain systems, lowers your mental function and increases stress hormones 

  • 2. Inhibit information

    • We are exposed to 200x more information than we were 20 years ago 

    • Highest performing individuals know what to block out and what to focus on 

  • 3. Detox Distractions 

    • Science shows we work only 3mins at a time uninterrupted 

      • How can you do high-level thinking in just 3 minutes? 

  • 4. Big Idea Thinking

    • “Big idea thinking is the supreme unleaded fuel for your brain” 

    • When you take in ideas from different areas, combine it with the rich knowledge you already have, and you form some generalized higher level way of thinking."

    • Synthesize: How do you extract the essence of stories that you hear? 

    • Interpret: Interpret the message, what does it mean? What’s the bottom line? 

    • Powerhouse Transformative Communications: i.e. think about the e-mails you write, is the subject line boring, rote, something anyone could write? 

      • Come up with a transformative subject line so powerful everyone wants to read it

    • And the message; Don’t just deluge information but show your deeper-level thinking 

    • Big Idea Thinking makes your memory, thinking and learning most robust 

      • When you engage in BIT you increase your brain at all levels of health 

        • Brain blood flow by 8-12% 

        • 30% increase in the speed of neural connection across the central executive network (important for planning, reasoning and problem-solving) 

  • 5. Calibrate Mental Effort

    • Calibrate how much effort you’re going to spend on things 

    • We spend too much time on things we should do quickly, or not enough time on things that deserve more 

      • When you’re hunting elephants, don’t waist your mental energy chasing rabbits?

        • Elephants need to be done when your brain is in it’s prime time

          • Typically the first 2 hours of the day, for most people 

  • 6. Innovation Brain is wired to be inspired from youth through late life 

    • Hates status quo 

  • 7. Motivation 

    • Always trumps talent

    • One of the secrets to building motivation is using the other strategies  

    • Motivation injects the brain with its most powerful neurotransmitter, dopamine

      • Dopamine in the right balance makes us happier and increases speed of learning 

  • You need to realize the you are the driver and you are the mechanic of the most powerful engine in the entire world.

  • Without brain health, you do not have health.