Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Oliver Sacks says: This Year, Change Your Mind

The Mind's Eye... One does not have to be blind or deaf to tap into the brain’s mysterious and extraordinary power to learn, adapt and grow. I have seen hundreds of patients with various deficits -- strokes, Parkinson’s and even dementia -- learn to do things in new ways, whether consciously or unconsciously, to work around those deficits. That the brain is capable of such radical adaptation raises deep questions. To what extent are we shaped by, and to what degree do we shape, our own brains? And can the brain’s ability to change be harnessed to give us greater cognitive powers? The experiences of many people suggest that it can. ... Neuroplasticity — the brain’s capacity to create new pathways — is a crucial part of recovery for anyone who loses a sense or a cognitive or motor ability. But it can also be part of everyday life for all of us. While it is often true that learning is easier in childhood, neuroscientists now know that the brain does not stop growing, even in our later years. Every time we practice an old skill or learn a new one, existing neural connections are strengthened and, over time, neurons create more connections to other neurons. Even new nerve cells can be generated. ... Whether it is by learning a new language, traveling to a new place, developing a passion for beekeeping or simply thinking about an old problem in a new way, all of us can find ways to stimulate our brains to grow, in the coming year and those to follow. Just as physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy body, challenging one’s brain, keeping it active, engaged, flexible and playful, is not only fun. It is essential to cognitive fitness. [31 December 2010 - New York Times - By Oliver Sacks - More]

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

How Aha! Really Happens

Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human AchievementThe theory of intelligent memory suggests that companies relying on conventional creativity tools -- such as brainstorming, where people are encouraged to turn off their analytical left brain and turn on their creative right brain to produce new ideas -- are getting shortchanged. [4 January 2011 - strategy+business - By William Duggan - More]

The Role of Beauty in Community Satisfaction - Richard Florida

"Beautiful Places: The Role of Perceived Aesthetic Beauty in Community
Richard Florida, Charlotta Mellander and Kevin Stolarick
This research uses a large survey sample of individuals across United States locations to examine the effects of beauty and aesthetics on community satisfaction. The paper conducts these estimations by ordinary least-squares, ordered logit, and multinomial logit. The findings confirm that beauty is significantly associated with community satisfaction. Other significant factors include economic security, schools, and social interaction. Further, community-level factors are significantly more important than individual demographic characteristics in explaining community satisfaction. [3 January 2011 - Creative Class - More]

11 of the Best Innovation 2010 Essays - Fast Company

Here at Co.Design, we pride ourselves on being a house of many mansions. To that end, we’ve spent the past several months sharing the perspectives of some of the finest experts working in design, from Bruce Nussbaum on the dangers of design imperialism to Gadi Amit on what’s wrong with American design schools (hint: everything). We might not agree with all the opinions, but we’re totally convinced that the dialogue about design is richer because of them. What follows is a collection of the most popular -- and occasionally controversial -- columns of 2010. [4 January 2011 - Fast Company's Co.Design - More]