October 7, 2009


Is it Brillig in Your Slithy Toves?

You know when your brain does all those annoying bendy things and won't remember information you need, or offer up a word like 'circumvent' or 'dialysis' when you really need it? It's a pain to watch yourself flailing around and have to settle for 'go around' or 'that blood cleansing process' when you just know there's a better way to put it.

Anyway. That happens to me all the time. Or a name. Or trying to pinpoint where I saw something in the ether that is my short term memory. But ever notice if you look away - metaphorically speaking - you can sometimes re-jig your brain into thinking properly? Like wiggling the wires or re-booting it. It works. A very cool study done by Travis Proulx at UC and Steven J. Heine at the University of B.C.suggests something I have long suspected - forcing your mind down tunnels it can't readily interpret is very good for re-jigging learning.

They used a piece of writing by Franz Kafka that was crazy, impossible to follow and demented (wow. what a change for Kafka), and after reading it, participants were able to sort out seemingly un-patterned strings of letters into new patterns. Our brains automatically search for known patterns - our comfort zones - and when they're removed, we're forced to seek out alternative reasoning.

And that, folks, is when we get smarter.

Processing information in only one way can be dangerous. When you're confronted with something strange, something you have no prior system in place to deal with, you freeze. Or freak out. Or cry. Okay, I cry. You may not.

But giving your mind a break from the known and feeding it a dose of nonsense (yes, they quote Jabberwocky) is like a breath of fresh air. We should all do variations of this every day. Like when the guy who only wears grey suits switches it up with a sweater vest.

Anyway. I just like mind-bendy things. You should to.

3 Comments:

Blogger DJ said...

Its all in the context.

Clockwork Orange (the book) was a brilliant example. I stopped using the glossary half way through.

October 07, 2009 1:11 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

It's called lateral thinking.
You can rewrite entire top forty songs with new lyrics by listening to them with a torn speaker and trying to make out the garbled words. Fun. Of course with Rolling Stones songs, you can't hear anything anyway.

October 07, 2009 1:25 PM  
Blogger marcelleqb said...

They say this is why we believe in god(s) - we are hard wired to find an answer.

October 09, 2009 11:53 AM  

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