This is Your Brain on the News: Lost Keys and Failing Memory

On Brain Games Jason Silva looks at an amazing array of brain functions and the undeniably bizarre way our minds work. While the exercises and revelations on the show may sometimes border on unbelievable, they are all real and understanding them may help your mind function more efficiently. Even better, scientists are constantly discovering new information on what makes our minds work. Here is your brain on the news:

Your Brain as a Search Party

Ever noticed that it is hard to think of anything else when you have misplaced something important? Everyone has lost chunks of time while being completely focused on finding a set of lost keys or a misplaced document. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley may have explained why the whole world seems to disappear when you are tracking down a missing object. It turns out that your brain mobilizes a variety of visual and non-visual regions when tasked with a targeted search for a person, animal or thing. So if the gardener left the gate open and you are searching for your lost dog, your brain will shift the focus of areas of the brain usually allocated for recognizing other objects or even those attuned to abstract thought into joining the hunt. The researchers believe that these findings explain why people have difficulty concentrating on more than one task at time. They also feel that it demonstrates the brain is much more dynamic than previously thought.

Can’t Remember? Clench Your Fist

So what if you are constantly losing your keys and don’t have the brain space to spare looking for them daily? Another recent study by psychologists at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey suggests that simply clenching your right hand for 90 seconds helps memory formation while clenching your left hand helps you remember. In their experiment, 50 adults performed better at recalling words from a lengthy list when carrying out these motions. Ruth Propper, the lead scientist of the research project feels that the study demonstrates that simple body movements can improve memory by temporarily changing the way the brain functions. Making a fist with your right hand activates the left brain which is the side responsible for encoding memories. While making a fist with your left hand activates the right brain which is used to retrieve them. Maybe it will work for you too!

Memory is tricky business, but perhaps you can trick your mind into working harder to help your remember. In fact, marketers know exactly how to trick your brain into remembering their products and they do it with the power of persuasion. In this week’s Brain Games, Jason Silva demonstrates how by exposing us to specific stimuli others can prime our brains to respond in certain ways. Is possible that con men, marketers and advertisers are influencing you to do what they want? Most definitely!  Wondering how?  Tune in to Brain Games: Power of Persuasion Monday May 6 at 9PM et/pt and find out!