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Brain Science

Covering all things around the study of how the human brain works.
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Brain Science Brain Science #32

The practice of being present

We’re joined by Elisha Goldstein, PhD - one of the world’s preeminent mindfulness teachers, a clinical psychologist, founder of the Mindful Living Collective and, creator of the six-month breakthrough program - A Course in Mindful Living. If you’ve ever used the Calm app, you might be familiar with his voice as he walks you through mindfulness practices to help calm negative emotions and anxious thoughts. He has extensive expertise in mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and today he’s sharing his wealth of knowledge using mindfulness to naturally reduce anxiety and be more present and aware in our lives.

Gergely Orosz blog.pragmaticengineer.com

Developer advice to self

Gergely Orosz shared advice that he’d give to himself 10 years ago. It’s interesting how hindsight is always 20/20…it’s easier to connect the dots looking back vs looking forward.

As I look back to over a decade ago, there are a few things I wish I’d started doing sooner. Habits that could have helped made me grow faster and in a more focused way. This is the advice I’d give my younger self, who has just landed their first professional software engineering job.

1. Take the time to read two books per year on software engineering … Every time I took the time to slowly and thoroughly read a recommended book on software engineering, I leveled up. By properly reading, I mean taking notes, talking chapters through with others, doodle diagrams, trying out, going back, and re-reading…

Mireille Reece, PsyD changelog.com/posts

Self-care should result in more margin

With constant change being our new normal these days, I cannot attest enough to the importance of implementing the habit of self-care. The biggest reason, aside from the sheer benefit of taking care of yourself, is the crucial by-product of margin that we gain. However, the challenge is that we often know what’s important for our health, yet we fail to incorporate these “knowns” into our daily lives.

In this post I cover what self-care is and the ways to establish habits that can help you create more margin in your life.

Brain Science Brain Science #31

It's OK to self-care

Most of us have heard how important “self-care” is and how important it can be for healthy living. But what exactly IS self-care? In this episode, not only do we define what self-care is, but we talk through the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of what’s involved in self-care and why this can so often be misunderstood and challenging. While we might be familiar with this term, many may not consider how they can be deliberate around managing themselves by both reflecting on and engaging in activities that help support their brains and bodies. It isn’t enough to simply know that self-care is important, rather discovering practical actions you can take to improve both how you feel and how you engage with the world.

Brain Science Brain Science #30

I'm just so stressed

Stress is something that we will inevitably encounter throughout our lives. It isn’t all bad or maladaptive, but how we manage it can make a significant difference in our lives. The degree of stress we feel impacts how we show up in the world including both how we relate and how we do the work before us each day.

In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the impact of stress on our systems including the role of different stress hormones on our immune system, cardiovascular system and our metabolism. Like many other conversations on previous episodes, we provide research relative to the value of relationships as having close connections helps us all combat the stress that loneliness can cause as well. When we utilize resources to support us as well as set limits on what we expose ourselves to and focus our attention to, we have the opportunity to better navigate the stresses of our lives.

Savannah Peterson changelog.com/posts

Poor communication is the primary reason systems and relationships fail

It has become even more clear to me during the era of COVID-19 that poor communication is the reason systems and relationships fail. Every time I’ve failed to get what myself, my team, or a community wanted out of an engineering team was because I neglected to communicate why and how it would be impactful to them in a digestible way.

In this post, I share a few lessons learned as a non-technical launching hardware and software products over the last decade. We’ll explore tactics and skills teams can use to communicate more effectively.

Brain Science Brain Science #29

Clarity and expectation

When you lack clarity or have uncertainty for a direction or goal, it’s going to be difficult to succeed in your actions. Today Mireille and Adam discuss the topic of clear communication and expectation, two of the most important ingredients of success. How do we create better clarity? Like so many things — clarity begins with awareness, and awareness of yourself. You have to know what you want and what you value in life. We must assume 100% responsibility for creating our own clarity in our lives. After all, “if you don’t have clarity, you are operating from assumption.”

Brain Science Brain Science #28

Dealing with conflict

Conflict is a part of everyday life. If you are connected to other humans, conflict will eventually occur. But what exactly is conflict? Where does it begin? How can it be resolved? In this episode, Mireille and Adam dive deep into those details to examine the framework of conflict end-to-end, to hopefully equip us with the tactics and skills we need to better navigate and resolve the conflict we encounter in our lives.

Matthieu Cneude thevaluable.dev

Cognitive biases in software development

If you like the topics we cover on Brain Science, then you’ll love this post from Matthieu Cneude based on this study and his own experiences.

Depending on the project, the impact of biases can be completely different, from insignificant to dangerous for the survival of the project itself. … Come with me, I will show you what our enemy looks like, and how to bring it down with a sharp mind.

Productivity deprocrastination.co

How to stop procrastinating by using the Fogg Behavior Model

According to FBM, there are three things we need to do something:

  • Motivation
  • Ability
  • Trigger

The key is that we need to have all three at the same time in order to act. Since our problem is procrastination, we’ll focus on how we fail at each one of these.

There’s more good discussion about overcoming the sources of procrastination on Brain Science’s episodes on navigating procrastination and being indistractible.

Brain Science Brain Science #27

What does it mean to be Indistractible?

Distractions will always exist – managing them is our responsibility. We often talk about the need for new information in order to change the old patterns of our brain. One of the best ways we can do this is through reading good books. In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the highlights of Nir Eyal’s book, Indistractible – how to control your attention and choose your life. In his book, Nir highlights this clear connection between people’s distraction and its relationship to psychological discomfort, otherwise known as pain. He says, “all behaviors, whether they tend toward traction or distraction are prompted by triggers, internal or external. When we learn how to recognize these “triggers,” there is opportunity for change. And changing in the direction that you desire, as based on what you value, is key to having the life you want to live.

Brain Science Brain Science #26

It all begins with empathy

Have you heard the phrase, “Put yourself in their shoes?” In this episode, the conversation focuses on the “HOW” and why it all begins with empathy. Empathy is the key that enables access to another person’s perspective and emotional state. It is also a fundamental aspect of building and sustaining relationships with others. The fascinating thing is that there are 3 types of empathy: cognitive, social, and empathic concern. Plus there’s a counterpart component called compassion that moves us to take action.

Brain Science Brain Science #25

The science behind caffeine

Today’s episode features our very first guest. We’re joined by Danielle Rath, a notable expert and product developer in the caffeine and energy drink industry. Danielle is the founder of GreenEyedGuide Research and Consulting where she shares science-based information about energy drinks and caffeine, and helps people and companies where fatigue and caffeine use are prevalent. In this lengthly episode, we talk through all aspects of the science behind caffeine — its chemical structure and half-life, where and how it’s being used, the good, bad, and the ugly, as well as practical advice for everyday consumption. If you consume caffeine of any sort, this is a must listen episode.

Brain Science Brain Science #24

Cognitive distortions

How reflective are you with the thoughts you think? In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through a few more cognitive distortions. These “distortions” are general tendencies or patterns of thinking that are false or inaccurate, which also have the potential to cause psychological damage. Generally speaking, people develop cognitive distortions as a way of coping with adverse life events. The more prolonged and severe those adverse events are, the more likely it is that one or more cognitive distortions will form. By recognizing these patterns in our thoughts and possibly how, when, or why we’re prone to use them, like many things, we create the opportunity to change them.

Productivity cbc.ca

There's a reason we procrastinate (and it's not laziness)

On an upcoming episode of Brain Science we’ll be talking about Indistractable by Nir Eyal. One of the larger topics of being distracted is procrastination. In the book, Nir says procrastination “originates from a need to escape psychological discomfort,” and in this post they say…

Procrastination is driven by our desire to avoid difficult emotions…

Pretty close, right? Read this if you want a nice primer on the concept of procrastination, what’s inducing it, and how to overcome it. Else, for the non-tldr, just read Indistractable so you can follow along with us during that upcoming episode.

Harvard Business Review Icon Harvard Business Review

The two things killing your ability to focus

I’ll save you a click if you’re only curious what those two things are:

1️⃣ connected devices
2️⃣ meetings

You and your business will benefit greatly if you can address these issues. You and everyone on your team will enjoy yourselves more and accomplish more. The data echoes what our common sense tells us: We need to carve out more time for ourselves if we want to remain focused and effective at work. These five daily practices will help.

Jose Browne josebrowne.com

On coding, ego, and attention

How you think has everything to do with the quality of your thinking. Great writing Jose 👏

If being a good software engineer means being a good thinker, then becoming a better one should mean improving the way we think… right? Well, no little shame in saying that it’s taken me more than a decade of coding to get this. To finally focus my attention on improving the way I think instead of learning yet another library, framework or programming language.

At a certain point, the things that got in the way of my growth had nothing to do with problem solving and everything to do with what was actually happening in my mind when I was engaged should have been engaging with a problem.

Brain Science Brain Science #22

The Neuroscience of touch

How much do you focus on your sense of touch? Have you ever considered how or why this sense is so critical to our lives and how we manage ourselves? In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the neurophysiological underpinnings of our sense of touch and how our brains process these sensory experiences. According to David Linden, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “The sense of touch is intrinsically emotional.”

Not only is touch relevant to our emotional experience, but it is a foundational aspect of the development of our nervous system and it impacts how we manage stress and respond to pain. It isn’t surprising then to consider that touch is also extremely relevant to our relationships as we are apt to feel more connected to those with whom we engage in touch.

Brain Science Brain Science #21

The power of story

Researchers have examined the power of story and discovered the way in which stories provide a framework that has the capacity to transcend language for universal understanding. According to Joe Lazauskas, “Stories illuminate the city of our mind…stories make us remember and they make us care.” In this episode we dive deep into the power of story to explore the ways in which stories play a role in our emotions and in our relationships with others.

Brain Science Brain Science #20

Navigating perfectionism

High expectations for performance in both life and work are common, but what do you do when you get stuck and you’re not able to achieve the results you desire? In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through the different aspects of perfectionism and ways in which is can be adaptive and helpful and other ways in which it poses additional challenges. What happens when we avoid the possibility of failure as opposed to simply having high standards for our performance? How can we begin to focus on healthy striving as opposed to reaching for perfection?

Design growth.design

101 cognitive biases & principles that affect your UX

This list is deep and (of course) the UX is well-considered. The author provides definitions of the biases as well as real-world examples of them in action.

Every time users interact with your product, they:

🙈 Filter the information
🔮 Seek the meaning of it
⏰ Act within a given time
💾 Store bits of the interaction in their memories

So to improve your user experience, you need to understand the biases & heuristics affecting those four decision-cycle steps.

Brain Science Brain Science #19

Step away to get unstuck

In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through the challenge of problem solving. It’s all to common to utilize the “try harder” approach when things aren’t working out the way you’d like. While that kind of effort is valuable, this approach is often wrought with further frustration, wasted time and less than desirable results. This episode offers you an alternative perspective and ways that you can practice getting unstuck and utilize more of the resources of your unconscious mind.

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