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Why you need to think about the environment, not just the mind

Earlier this summer, science writer Annie Murphy Paul released a book based on fairly radical ideas. Thought thinking is flawed as long as you believe it happens almost entirely in your brain. Expanded mind Utilizing recent research in cognitive science, it suggests that it is not really true. Paul says that cognitive resources can be used more effectively when used in combination with “extraneurological” resources (body (physical cognition), environment (situational cognition), surrounding people (distributed cognition)). Says.

“The brain has evolved to move, navigate space, and interact with others,” says Paul. “These are the strengths of these humans that we set aside completely when we focus our thoughts on the brain, and more difficult.” It just doesn’t work. “

Paul is not trying to claim that the brain is not the center of thought. It is only that a deeper understanding of how our body and social and physical environment affect the brain can lead to greater cognitive development. For example, after hiking in the woods for a day, or sitting in a room for a day, do you think more clearly with a back-to-back zoom? Guess the day to move in nature. Well, can encouraging children to move rather than sit still while studying can actually help them learn better? Can you design your office or building environment to better mimic green spaces and the natural world?

These seem like questions worth asking at the moment of rethinking our thoughts on everything from work to social gatherings.Paul spoke GQ The future of working from home, the science behind intuition, why Twitter shouldn’t be used as a break from work, and the potential for meritocracy to be confused by rethinking thought ideas.

You talk about our “brain-bound” worldview. Can you explain what that means?

I borrowed it from Andy Clark, the philosopher who created the extended theory of mind. What he means in brainbound, and what I mean in brainbound, is the focus of this nerve center. This focuses on the brain when the trajectory of thought closes to all the ways in which thought spreads to extra neural resources such as the body, physical space, and other people. It is not limited to this 3-pound tissue mass within the cell.

In the introduction, I write that I have never come across an idea that has significantly changed your way of thinking, working, parents, and how you proceed with your daily life. What specific things have you changed in your life for the research done in this book?

As a culture, we try to overdo it in our heads. So one of the really big points that was useful to me was to offload mental content as much as possible. Whether it’s a whiteboard or a sketch pad, I always want to put what’s in my head into the physical space. The brain has evolved to manipulate physical objects and use tools rather than thinking about abstract concepts. In other words, the more you can turn an idea into a physical object, the more [the better].. There is a large bulletin board with post-it notes. If you load it in such a space, you can actually sail by human power. You’re navigating information rather than trying to think about everything in your head.

This book is, in a sense, really anti-cultural. It uncovers many myths that we take for granted — brain-bound thinking is one of them. What are some of the other myths about thoughts that stand out to you?

Why you need to think about the environment, not just the mind

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