How the Brain Works

Overview  |  Rewiring your brain  |  Willpower and brain energy  |  Some General Notes about How the Brain Works

Useful or interesting Links  |  Quiz/Tests


What we do and the decisions we make originates in the brain.

Understanding some of the basics of how the brain works is an important part of using it effectively and living your life the way you would like to. Many people have strong misconceptions about what they or others can do, and this holds them back. The key misconceptions are that ‘your abilities are fixed’ and that ‘your willpower is fixed’. Both of these are wrong.

Your brain is highly malleable. It is rewiring itself all the time, and you can influence this rewiring through conscious thought. The science of this is called neuroplasticity.

And your willpower is variable through the day, dependent upon the particular circumstances of the day, and with deliberate intent and training can be strengthened over time.

There are a number of science fiction stories about robots that are able to continually upgrade themselves and become smarter and stronger. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that? You can.


Rewiring your brain


Willpower and brain energy



Some General Notes about How the Brain Works


Useful or interesting Links



[Alternative version of Quiz with Scoring]: Requires ActiveX enabled

Reminder on taking tests: It’s not about trying to prove you already know it, it’s about learning.


Question 1

Which of the following is closest to be being true:

a. Our brains are largely fixed at birth and through our life our brain cells slowly die off.
b. Our brains develop and grow when we are young, and we are able to learn lots of new things, but once we are adult are brains have reached their peak and they slowly degrade.
c. Our brains are highly malleable and remain so all our lives.


Question 2

How long does it take to break a deeply ingrained habit:

a. We can do it instantly if we just had strong enough willpower.
b. Anything from a few weeks to a few months.
c. About 6 months.
d. It will take years, and if very deeply ingrained you won’t break it at all.


Question 3

Which of the following impact on your motivation and willpower later in the day:

a. What you’ve been eating during the day.
b. How much you been physically exercising.
c. How hard a day it has been from a mental viewpoint.
d. Your mood.


Question 4

What are mirror neurons and what do they do for us?


Question 5

Identify which of the descriptions go with each of the listed brain wave states:

1. Gamma wave
2. Beta wave
3. Alpha wave
4. Theta wave
5. Delta wave

A. generated during active conscious thinking and concentrated problem solving;
B. generated during drowsiness, when daydreaming, or during light sleep. Note that unusual ideas can often pop into the head during a theta wave state;
C. generated during situations of extreme stress, leading to our being able to transcend typical activities, such as when people perform incredible feats;
D. generated during deep sleep. Our physical healing is accelerated when in this state.
E. generated during a relaxed alert state;


Question 6

True or false? Making lots of minor decisions has no impact on your willpower later in the day.


Question 7

True or false? Using a hands free phone whilst driving is very different to having someone in the car talking to you, and can be a serious threat to your driving.


Question 8

Is Sour Grapes, whereby someone who is unable to get something they had wanted then claim they never wanted it at all, an example of Cognitive Dissonance or of Cognitive Ease.



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