E28: Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg: A 50-Year Journey of Neuroscience

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Listen to the full episode on iTunes (and please leave a rating to help the podcast reach more people): E28: Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg: A 50-Year Journey of Neuroscience

Neuroscience: The study of the nervous system as it relates to memory, learning, behavior, perception and consciousness.

Incidences of dementia are decreasing and the average age at which dementia strikes has increased by 5 years.

Why? Because evolutionary pressure is speeding up through rapid technological innovation.

Our life is increasingly digital and learning to use new technological tools leads to a lot of novelty for the brain.

In other words, in the current society you’re by default forced to engage in cognitive exercises even if you don’t want too.

Mental exercises to prevent Alzheimers and Dementia are still useful but less necessary because of all the involuntary cognitive exercises we engage in while trying to catch up to the rapid technological innovation.

Idle debate: Is technology good or not? It doesn’t matter because it’s here to stay.

It’s becoming increasingly important to choose the right thing to specialise in because it’s uncertain what fields will exist 10 years from now.

Intelligent people are less likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a traumatic event.

The prefrontal cortex: This brain region is responsible for decision making and social control (controlling your behavior so you don’t perform actions that have negative social consequences).

To activate the pre-frontal cortex more you need to extend your exposure to novelty and variation.

Examples of novelty and variation: Travelling, walking a different route to work or talking with a stranger.

To think clearly you must be physically healthy.

Cyclothymia: Mild form of bipolar disorder where a person alternates between periods of hypomania (high energy levels, grandiose thoughts, more high risk behavior) and mild depression.

Cyclothymia results in higher than average creativity levels.

In other words, being happy all the time is not good for your creativity.

You must experience both periods of sadness and happiness to be the most creative version of yourself.

The implication: You must embrace periods of sadness because these periods will make you become a better and more creative version of yourself.

Left vs right side of brain:

In adults, damage to the left side of the brain is more catastrophic for cognitive function.

In children, damage to the right side of the brain is more catastrophic for cognitive function.

Since children need to deal with more novelty while growing up and the right side of the brain atrophies faster as we age, it’s likely that the right side deals with novelty while the left side of the brain deals with routine.

In the future, neuroscience will connect more with mathematics and computer science.

Important future skills: Programming and software related skills.

– Oskar Faarkrog

We are right now creating the Future Skills Program which will be an online video course covering decision-making and risk management with weekly homework and evaluations.

* Why decision making and risk management? Because better decisions equal better finances, better relationships and an overall better life.

* Decisions are the foundation of everything you do and the outcome you eventually get.

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