Our brains start to shrink around the age of forty.
As shrinkage speeds up, our memory, perception, learning, and attention start to degrade. It becomes harder to form complex thoughts, memorise long sequences, or solve technical problems. But not all experience this drop in brainpower at the same rate. Some people stay sharp as they age, others not so much.
Why are some brains more resistant to decline than others? The answer lies in our ability to produce neurons. Our brains, it turns out, keep making neurons even in our 90s. …
“Not a lot of people wake up each day and say: it’s a great day for decarbonisation.”
Says John Marshall, who is leading a highly successful campaign to spread awareness about the risks of climate change.
Words can become obstacles to understanding, let alone caring. A failure to communicate, according to Marshall, is why we struggle to take proper action against pressing issues such as climate change, poverty, pandemics.
What’s the fix?
Think about people first. Talking about an issue you care about is one thing. Making people care is something else.
Here are three simple things that Marshall recommends…
In 1999, Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, was named manager of the century by Fortune magazine. His leadership style, Rank and Yank, became the embodiment of corporate America in the 1980s and 1990s. Welch’s strategy was simple: rank employees from best to worst, reward the top twenty per cent with hefty cash bonuses, fire the bottom ten per cent. Repeat each year.
Did you know that we tend to buy more coffee once our loyalty cards are almost fully stamped?
That’s what Oleg Urminsky, a professor of marketing at the University of Chicago, and his colleagues have found. They are among a community of scientists who are using statistics, big data, and case studies to probe human motivation, desire, and willpower like never before.
It’s no surprise that productivity often depends on external factors. But discoveries in neuroscience and cognitive psychology are shedding light on even more surprising stimuli. …
What does it take to produce your best work, your magnum opus, your proudest creation?
Dean Keith Simonton is one of those who spent more than three decades looking to answer this question. He and his colleagues published some of the most comprehensive studies on people who did exceptional work in arts, science, business, engineering, and other areas.
“Is the thinking that leads to exceptional performance the same in music as in science or business?” Simonton wondered. After all, an engineer’s way of thinking has little, if anything, in common with a painter. To answer this question and more, Simonton…
In 1967, a young American executive named David Wallerstein was tasked with a mission: to increase popcorn sales in his company’s movie theatres.
To entice people to buy more popcorn, Wallerstein tried all sorts of marketing tricks: buy one get one at half price, morning specials, yet profits remained flat. Then one day, he had an “aha” moment. Wallerstein thought: “What if we offer people more popcorn without forcing them to buy a second bag?” It was easy: just offer a larger bag. Shortly after, the jumbo size was introduced, and sales of popcorn skyrocketed.
Wallerstein’s idea seems obvious, yet…
Creativity on demand is hard. It took us six thousand years to come up with the rolling suitcase: from the invention of the wheel in Mesopotamia to Bernad Sadow’s patent in 1970.
Why is creativity so hard? And is it possible to have great ideas more easily?
To answer these questions, scientists carried a series of experiments worthy of a Marvel script. They designed electrical helmets to control brain activity, energising certain brain parts and putting other parts to sleep. The results of these experiments — known as transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) — were no less than astounding.
When it comes to mastery, motivation is more important than talent. Without it, the difficult hours of practice — necessary to elevate you above the rest — can feel excruciating.
But where does motivation come from, and can you create more if you want to? Psychologists have identified three critical elements that ignite motivation, all of which you can tweak to your advantage.
According to psychologists, your motivation peaks when you feel in charge. Whether practising on your own or working in a team, your perception of autonomy predicts how energised you can be in chasing your goal.
For more than twenty years, Christopher Langan was heralded as “America’s smartest man”. With a score well over 190, his IQ sits thirty points comfortably above that of Albert Einstein — putting him in the exceptionally gifted category. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll discover that the smartest man isn’t that smart.
Secluded in a hay farm in Missouri’s outskirts, Langan earns a living as a club bouncer. When he’s not kicking troublemakers out of the club, he likes to spread conspiracy theories and anti-immigration ideas online. For years, Langan tried to convince the scientific community of his theories…
I was fortunate to interact and learn from lots of smart people. From my years as a research scientist to the projects I helped build as a software developer, the teams I worked with faced tough challenges and sometimes failed along the way. But we always pulled a form of success from the endeavour.
Whatever the project, the field, and the exceptional people I worked with, I saw four big qualities that smart people have. These qualities helped them achieve their goals, grow personally, and learn more. …