We were delighted to host Dr Cathy Stinear on Tuesday 19 March for the first of our 2019 Think Talks.
Cathy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Auckland, developing tools to predict and promote recovery after stroke. She’s also part of the University’s Creative Thinking Project, where she works with researchers, artists and educators to facilitate a deeper understanding of the creative process, and promote creativity as central to individual and community well-being and development.
Our Programme Director, Anne Cave, found the talk insightful and shares some of her learnings:
- -If you want to master something, plan on learning/practising for 100 hours.
- -Regular physical exercise (about 30 mins a day several times a week including resistance exercise), rather than puzzles, is the single most important protection against mental decline in later years. Those who exercise have 20% more blood flowing to the brain than those who don’t exercise.
- -The brain uses 20% of our blood supply – the greediest organ.
- -Question: “Sometimes I go to the fridge, open it, then wonder what I’m doing there/looking for. Is this is sign of alzheimers?” Answer: “No. That happens to all of us. When you forget what the fridge is, that’s a sign of alzheimers!”
- -The brain is fully mature at 24 years of age. For those less than 16 years of age, their brains are unable to assess risks well.
- -Phobias/fears – fear of snakes, for example, is hard-wired to our brains as a defence mechanism.
- -Cannabis is not good for the developing brain – heightened risk of schitzophrenia. We should separate medicinal from recreational use.
- -Mindfulness Meditation for a few minutes every day is beneficial for improving coherence in the brain and effective firing of neurons.
- -Importance of sleep for the brain: waste products are eliminated at night, Neuroplasticity – connections between neurons are pruned at night. Everything you know is stored in those connections. Sleep qualify may be altered by medications.
- -The more you try and concentrate on remembering something, the harder it is to ‘find’ it. When the brain is alert but restful eg in the shower or focused on a task, you might have that ‘ah ha’ moment.
- -Concentration spans in the population are being reduced due to proliferation of social media. Cathy recommends reading (a book) for 20 minutes periodically to train for long, linear, sustained attention.
- -Cathy enjoys Sam Harris’s podcast and thought some of his Making Sense episodes might be of interest to the audience: https://samharris.org/podcast/
- -Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman an interesting book for describing how the brain forms thought: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow
- -Another interesting article about brainwork: https://www.nature.com/news/2008/080411/full/news.2008.751.html
If you’re interested in attending future Think Talks, visit our website here for a list of what’s coming up.