Top 10 Amazing Brain Hacks and Tricks
Brain is by far one of the most complex objects in the universe. Brain primarily works on the principal of receiving input from body’s sensory organs and giving out an optimum response. This involves billions of neurons transmitting electrical impulses from the body to brain and the brain calculating the necessary output to a situation. As there is a lot of information that brain needs to calculate every given second from various senses, brain creates mechanistic shortcuts that have evolved over thousands of years. Because of these shortcuts and cues, brain can sometimes be tricked into believing nonexistent or irrational concepts. Here is a compilation of top 10 amazing brain hacks and tricks.
10. Hacking Brain with a Game Controller
Researchers from University of California, University of Oxford and University of Geneva proved it is possible to steal personal information from a person’s head. This entire feat was achieved by just using a $300 off-the-shelf Emotiv brain-computer interface, which is a game controller worn around the head. The controller is used to play games or operate computers just by the power of thought. These devices have access to EEG wave data produced by brain. The test subjects were shown a series of images of houses, buildings and banks. Using a special signal known as P300 produced by brain, researchers were able to find the person’s home 60% of the time and around 40% chance of recognizing the first number of PIN numbers. Researchers prospect P300 to be useful in interrogation of potential criminals.
9. Trigger Your Senses to Learn Better
One might have always noticed that a particular music or taste can trigger specific memory of a place, a time or an event. Studies have claimed that memories relating to events are scattered across the brain’s sensory centers, but summoned by a region called the hippocampus. If one of the senses is stimulated to evoke a memory, other memories featuring other senses are also triggered. This explains why a particular song or a particular smell conjures up detailed picture of a past event. It has been suggested that while memorizing, if the senses are fed with peculiar sensations like a particular smell, taste or sound, the ability to retain the material is enhanced. When the same sensations are reproduced brain evokes that memory up efficiently.
8. Pinocchio Illusion
Pinocchio Illusion is an illusion that one’s nose is growing larger. This illusion requires two people, two chairs and a blindfold. The person wearing the blindfold sits at the rear chair staring at the back of the person sitting in the front chair. The blindfolded person then reaches around and places his hand on the other person’s nose. He then places the other hand on his own nose and starts stroking both noses simultaneously. After a minute or two into this process, half of the subjects will experience that their nose is incredibly long. The illusion involves activity in the parietal cortex of the brain responsible for integrating information from different parts of the body. Because the fingers holding the nose are still giving tactile information of being in contact with the nose, it appears that the nose is moving away from the face too.
7. Learn Better While Asleep
Various studies have demonstrated that if one has to memorize or learn some information, if they study it 24 hours before the exam and sleep right after doing so, the ability of the brain to retain that information is greatly increased. A Harvard study proved this technique worked. In that study, a group’s ability to memorize was tested after 20 minutes, another one’s after 12 hours and another one’s after 24 hours. The third group who slept after memorizing and had been interviewed 24 hours later did the best and the first group who had just 20 minutes did the worst. According to another Harvard study in 2010 dreaming may reactivate and reorganize recently learned material, which would help improve memory and boost performance. It also suggested that creativity and sleep are connected.
6. Implanting False Memories
Can false memories be implanted as seen in Inception? The answer is yes. A number of studies have demonstrated that under right circumstances false memories can easily be implanted without the need for Inception styles gadgetry or elaborate action sequences. Memories tend to fade away as time passes and are easily modifiable. Changing a detail or two of an intact memory is totally different from implanting an event that has never happened. Researches have confirmed some childhood memories are either inaccurate or did not happen at all. During a research in 1995, 24 participates were given four childhood memories (obtained from family members) out of which one was a false memory. A week later when they were interviewed, 20% of them came back with elaborate details of the false memory. This works because brain does not always store intricate details when it comes to memory, usually the ones that do not matter. Due to this process, it becomes difficult for us to differentiate between a genuine life event and a fake one.
5. Reducing Pain with Binoculars.
A study at the Oxford University has led to the discovery of a new pain killer, but it may come as a surprise that the new pain killer is in fact a binocular. The study demonstrated that distorting body image can significantly alter sense or in this case pain perception. In the study 10 participants suffering from chronic right hand pain were asked to observe their limbs through a pair of binoculars under four different conditions. The participants reported greatest pain when viewing through the magnifying binoculars and when viewing the wounded hand through inverted binoculars actually led to diminished pain and swelling. Researchers concluded that visual perception of one’s body can significantly effect on how one’s body feels. Next time you have an injured finger rather than popping a pill, just grab a binocular.
4. Rubber Hand Illusion
In this experiment, a person’s right hand is kept away from view usually inside a box and a dummy hand is placed at an angle so as to suggest it to be part of their body. Then both the dummy and the subject’s right hand are synchronously stroked with a paintbrush. The subject can sense the strokes and can only see the dummy hand and after a while brain start to believe the rubber hand as part of the body. In this state of mind, if the subjects are asked to point to their right hand, most of them will point to the wrong one. In a variation of this experiment, after the strokes, if the dummy hand is hit with a hammer, the subject may actually be startled and report pain for a few moments.
3. Lucid Dreaming
Lucid dreaming is a dream state in which one is aware that he/she is dreaming. Occasionally, in the midst of a dream due to the bizarre nature of the dream, one can come to recognize it as a dream or sometime even without a particular clue one can conclude that they are lucid. In the state of a lucid dream, one can deliberately influence the course of events to follow. While a few individuals have an innate ability to achieve lucidity, in others it may just be a spontaneous event. There have been many tips suggested to achieve lucidity like dream recall, reality testing and short naps. While dreaming, our mind loses the ability to question the events or circumstances as it does not involve the reasoning part of our e brain, but if mental state is even so slight changed, dreams still continue with the realization of it being a dream. You can find more detailed article on this phenomenon here.
2. Ganzfeld Hallucinations
Ganzfeld effect is a phenomenon of perception caused by exposure to an unstructured, uniform stimulation field causing hallucinations resembling those caused by LSD or other psychedelic drugs. The procedure exposes the participant to unstructured sensations usually by placing half-cut ping pong balls taped over eyes and facing a red light, while playing white noise through headphones or in the background. It works by blocking out most of the signals reaching the brain. The white noise, the red light and ping pong balls are eventually ignored by the brain. With all sensory perceptions blocked, the brain starts painting its own picture on the empty canvas and this is where the hallucinations set in. The brain remains alert throughout the experience. The time for the hallucinations to set in are claimed to differ from person to person. Many participants who have tried this procedure have reported experiencing nightmares most of the times.
1. Uberman Sleep Schedule
Uberman sleep schedule is a concept in polyphasic sleep. Polyphasic sleep involves taking multiple short naps throughout the day rather than in one long chunk. Uberman sleep schedule suggests a schedule consisting of taking six power naps of 20 minutes each every 4 hours. A normal sleep of 8 hours consists of 1 to 1.5 hours of REM sleep. REM (rapid eye movement) is the most important phase of sleep where people dream and is considered most important to keep the brain sharp. In the beginning it is very difficult to get accustomed to this schedule because body is not getting any of its REM sleep, but after a week or two into the schedule brain starts to gradually adapt to the new sleep schedule and jumps right into REM mode in a couple of minutes. People who have tried this have reported higher alertness and energy and more vivid and lucid dreams. With this schedule almost two hours of REM sleep is achieved in contrary to one and a half hours during normal sleep.