This is Your Brain During a Pandemic

Listen 48:44
Optimizing Brain Performance

Bigstock/archivector/Lindsay Lazarski

Optimizing our brains has become an obsession of the modern world. We meditate, take supplements, read books on productivity — all in the name of sharpening our minds, and boosting cognitive function. But at a time when we’re most in need of our A game, a lot of us are finding ourselves seriously derailed. The pandemic has disrupted our lives, work, and schedules; thrust us into a fog of anxiety and uncertainty; and in some cases, stretched us impossibly thin between the pressures of work and family. On this episode, we explore how we can reclaim our best brains. We hear stories about innovating under pressure, accepting boredom as a cognitive reset, and reaching the creative flow state.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We talk with Randall Munroe — the prolific author behind webcomic XKCD — about using science and math for whimsical (and totally impractical) problem solving. For instance: building an above-ground pool out of Gruyere cheese.
  • Doctors use brain stimulation to treat conditions ranging from anxiety and depression, to chronic pain. But now, people are also doing this at home, with brain-zapping devices they can buy online. Does that work, and is it a good idea? We hear from Roy Hamilton, a neurologist and director of the University of Pennsylvania’s brainSTIM Center (Brain Stimulation, Translation, Innovation, and Modulation Center).

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