How to Use More of Your Brain

You can't put more of your brain to work, says Johns Hopkins cognitive scientist Barry Gordon. You can, however, learn to make it work more productively. Here are three solutions.

What's the Latest Development?


Most everyone can learn to make their brain work more productively, says Johns Hopkins cognitive scientist Barry Gordon. Forcing yourself to concentrate and shutting down extraneous thoughts, while difficult, will boost your neural toolkit. And working around the inherent problems in thinking, such as personal bias, can optimize the thinking organ. Failing that, play video games! They can improve cognitive skills like perception and attention by requiring intense concentration and ruthless self-correction, lest your friends shoot you. 

What's the Big Idea?

While you cannot put more of your brain to work (all its parts are firing even when you think you are relaxing or spacing off), you need not constantly slave over your work just to solve a difficult problem. Taking a break to let your mind wander around the perimeter of a vexing problem may be, says Gordon, the best way to find a truly innovative solution. "It may not feel like you are using more of your brain when you unleash it in this way, but one virtue of the human brain is that it often does its best work when it does not seem to be working at all."

Photo credit: shutterstock.com


Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Understand your own mind and goals via bullet journaling

Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.

Videos
  • Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
  • The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
  • One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Keep reading Show less