Category: Psychometrics

See With Your Tongue

If you were told that you can see with your tongue, how will it sound?  Crazy or even impossible, isn’t it? But it is not so. A study by Bach-Y- Rita, a neuroscientist proved that the eye has nothing to do with sight1. It is the brain that sees whereas the eyes are just an input device1. The experiment proved that an individual can see even when blindfolded by catching an impulse with the tongue.  The subject in the experiment was blindfolded and his ears closed. His right hand, arm and head were strapped with wires which were connected to a computer while his tongue was filled with electrodes. A ball was rolled on the table on which he placed his hands. Even though the subject could not see or hear, he could catch the ball due to the impulse felt at the tongue with the rolling of the ball.

Similarly is the case of ears, tongue, nose and skin. They are all input devices for vision, sound, taste, smell and touch to be passed on to the brain. When the data is passed on to the brain, the brain processes the information that enables us to experience the five senses. There are different areas in the brain for each of these senses such as “visual cortex for visual input and somatosensory cortex for touch input”2.  The information to the brain can be passed from any input device i.e. from any sensory organ and the brain will still processes the data. For example another study showed how the brain uses the visual cortex and the somatosensory cortex for people who were blind from birth2. The study showed that blind people can still visualize the patterns of the bumps when using the Braille though they cannot see anything2.

These kinds of experiments only proved that the brain is the most plastic and fantastic organ. Research states that if one part of the brain is damaged, other part of the brain can be enabled to perform the same function that has been hampered. Not only that Bach-Y- Rita’s experiment helped navy divers to see in the dark, black waters of the ocean through the sonar signals that passed through their tongue interface3. Similarly, battlefield soldiers are enabled to have a 360 degree vision in the night through the infrared sensors in their helmets that pass data signals to their tongues3.

Authored by Akash Chander. Akash is currently the Principal Coach at The Orange Academy. He is the lead facilitator for Leadership training programs conducted by Strengthscape Private Limited

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Meditation And The Brain

Meditation is correlated to keeping you calm and relaxed. It no doubt reduces anxiety and stress. Studies have found that meditation reduces blood pressure in people with coronary heart disease and enhances the health and the well-being of people who meditate.

However, research has found that meditation alters the structures of the brain and enables you to perform better. It has been found that meditation thickens certain areas of the neocortex such as the right anterior insula and the prefrontal cortex which is involved in sensory processing and attention.  It was observed that the meditators have long attention span than those who did not.

A study found that the gray matter (neocortex) of the mediators increased which is important for learning and memory. At the same time there was reduction in the area of amygdala which is connected to anxiety and stress. Another study of 2008 found that the brain of those who practice meditation had stronger activation levels in the part of the brain connected to empathy (called temporal parietal junctures). This was not found in the control group who did not meditate.

Meditation is form of mental exercise and the neocortex is found to have grown bigger and thicker in meditators. This growth of the neocortex is not due to the result of the growth of the new neurons but due to the increased neuron connections and branching. Growth of the neocortex is also due to widening of blood vessels and supporting structures of the brain such as the glia and astrocytes.

When individuals meditate they do not simply sit doing nothing. They practice mindfulness meditation by focusing on certain objects. The object of focus can be anything and need not be considered as spiritual. It can be anything from focusing on one’s breathing sensations, nature or anything that does not distract the mind from drifting away or indulge in thoughts and feelings of stress or frustrations. Usually meditators are seated on a floor in a calm and quiet environment remaining silent and sometimes guided by a session. Hence it is ideal to learn meditation under trained practitioners.

A recent research of 2011 found that participation in a mindfulness meditation training program resulted in measurable changes in the brain regions of the participants associated with memory, empathy, sense of self and stress. Researcher Britta Hölzel observed that meditation resulted in brain plasticity and noted that we can change our brains to improve our well-being and quality of life.

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Internal Dialogue – Is The Key

What is common to Henry Ford, Walt Disney and Abraham Lincoln? All of them were considered failures in their initial ventures, but they persisted and overcame their failings to become masters in their chosen line. Today, the world recognizes each of these personalities as being role models for those willing to make a change and start afresh.

1. Desiring Change

For many people, mid-life is the time when they begin to feel the need for a change. The mind slowly begins dwelling for longer time on the idea of doing something you truly enjoy doing rather than something that promises you stability but saps at your mental energy. At this stage in life, you begin looking at work not only as a source of income, but also as a means of growth, towards feeling fulfillment. In such a scenario, it is not wrong to desire a change.

However, we ought to make a clear assessment of why we are seeking a change. Reasons such as having a bad boss or a lack of recognition, or an inability to get along with people at your current place of work may warrant a change of job, not a change of career.

2. Listening to your inner voice

Leaving the security of a regular paycheck can be scary, but it is important that this anxiety should not stop you from testing the waters. If you want to make a change, but find it overwhelming to just chuck away a good job, try one of these methods to experience the new career you envision in small increments.

  • Take up a part-time job in the area of your interests to learn the ropes, and also gain insight on whether you have what it takes. You can also use this opportunity to find out if you need to gain some training to build your skills.
  • Work as a volunteer on weekends in the area of your interest – this will help you try it on for size – and see how you feel doing this.
  • Join a training class to get trained on the aspects of the new career with which you are not familiar.
  • Speak to experienced people in the field and get details of the actual status of the industry and what you can expect if you make a transition.

At the end of this, you will have a good idea of the strengths you have and the additional training you require. Remember that making a change is a lot of hard work and you need to steel your mind to keep going. Once you are clear that this is indeed what you want to do, construct your dream and devise the plan, and there is nothing that can stop you from reaching it.

3. About Self Talk

Self-talk includes all the purposeful and automatic random thoughts that run through our mind, it includes all the things said both silently and out loud.  Self-talk can be positive, it can make us take action, define our attention and focus, and get one motivated (“You can do it”). Unfortunately, self talk can also be negative (Makes us give up), pessimistic, and critical.  Such internal self talk definitely does not help performance and, in most cases, brings down performance levels.  Recognize that negative self talk is going to occur; the key is to not focus on the negatives and instead focus on the positive self talk.

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