Hello, and thank you for reading. Who would have thought our brains are so lazy? Given that as animals we have been evolving to survive and prosper by excreting energy when we most need it, we could think of energy as the currency of the universe, the more we have, the better off we are as living organisms. In this post we will explore hypothesis of why our brain behaves the way it does and tie it back in with the reading by Gregory Burns and its practical applications to innovation.
For many years scientists have wondered why our brain is so much bigger than any other species in this planet. Scientists such as Robin Dumbar formulated hypothesis which hold reasonably true for some species, but do not scale to our existence as humans:
- Our brain size is directly proportional to the complexity of our social networks. This hypothesis is called “The Social Brain Hypothesis” and was formulated because understanding other living beings and keeping up with social interactions in a community takes a lot of brainpower.
- Our brain size is directly proportional to how hard we have to work to find food or survive. Some animals are herbivore others are carnivore, usually carnivores have to work harder thus thinking harder to beat other living beings and survive and ultimately having a bigger brain.
If any, which one would you think is correct? Although not certain, these hypothesis reveal how nature has molded the most basic animal cells. It creates organisms with the minimum viable capability to survive in their environment the longest by conserving energy. But why are we so much more dominant than any other species?
To tie it back to the readings, as explored by Gregory Burns in Iconoclast, even though our brains are gigantic, we are bound by barriers such as the fear of failure, urge to conform and the tendency to classify sensory information which ultimately saves energy. Fortunately, in order to overcome these barriers we can train ourselves. As listed in the reading, here are some of the things that Mr. Burns recommends in order to “trick” our natural response to stimuli and get access to the creative portions of our brain:
- Seeking out new environments
- Novel Experiences
- First time acquaintances
These general guidelines are geared toward seeking novel experiences to make the brain trigger neurons that have never been triggered before. There seems to be no limit to what you can do to access your creativity as factors such as personality, up-bringing and genetics also play an important role in the process. Not knowing these barriers existed, what has worked has sparked innovation for you? What do you plan on doing to overcome these constraints and be creative and innovative?