Brain Myths

Does It Matter How Your Memory Works?

I recently was part of an on-line conversation about the family movie Inside Out. (Parents and kids alike are loving it -- check out the Facebook page in the link!)

There has been some criticism from brain-people that know a lot about how memory works that some memory metaphors in the move aren't...well...quite right.

Other people feel the power of the film for teaching about emotions -- the importance of every kind of emotion, how we manage them, a vocabulary for parents and children to talk about feelings, even for those of us who might be grown-up children without a good emotional vocabulary -- far outweighs any factual slips.

I want to suggest both sides are "right".

But I also want to share that I strongly believe that how we think about our brains -- our "model" of the brain -- can influence how we live our life. (Hence, my little tag line: Understanding the Hidden Principles of Your Brain as a Rosetta Stone to Life -- I really, really mean it.)

So, here are my thoughts on whether understanding how your memory works really makes any difference to the bigger picture...

Brain Plasticity Arrives in Toronto OR Why Haven't I Heard of Neurofeedback?

Over breakfast this morning, I read a Toronto Star article by Judy Steed about brain plasticity and the Rotman Research Institute.While I was delighted to have the ability of the adult brain to change discussed in a very public place, I have to admit I experienced a resurgence of the frustration and annoyance I often get when I read about medical centres "discovering" plasticity. I don't mean discovering in the sense of being the first to uncover the phenomenon. Because they just aren't the first anymore. I mean "discovering" in the sense of reporting on a phenomenon that is well-known in many circles and has been for some time, but announcing it as if they were the first. (Perhaps a bit like the claim that Europeans "discovered" the Americas which annoys our native peoples, but that's another article for someone else's blog ;-). When I read these articles, it seems to me to come across as if these "centres of excellence" were finally uncovering critically important findings that everyone else has missed -- and taking the credit for it. So this article is a bit of a rant - and I apologize in advance if I go over the top, but it is SO frustrating to be working in a field that has recognized the plasticity of the brain for decades and used that ability of the brain to change itself to help people for decades, only to have it dismissed for decades by many medical settings who are now "discovering" it without any mention of those there before them. But let me back up a bit and be clear.... First, a quick review of what we mean by "brain plasticity"...