Monday, September 24, 2012

Efficient use of brain space makes the intelligent person

"When you finish playing with your toys, you must put them back. Otherwise next time you want to play with them again, you cannot find them." These are my mother's words that will forever echo through my mind. How remarkably correct she was!

In a limited network, struggling to represent the world, the trick is to clean up after yourself, as quickly as possible, leave a cue, and then you can move on to something else, doing the same thing again. If you do not clean up after yourself, and leave clutter, then you don't have space to handle the new stuff. Then, things get messy. You start to have new stuff mixed with old stuff, you can't tell the two apart, you take more time to find things, if you can find them at all. They are there, but you can't get at them because they were not organized well.

We see this partially in evidence from personality studies. Higher levels of neuroticism, with lower levels of conscientiousness are associated with higher incidence of Alzheimer's dementia. Perhaps higher neuroticism means that the brain is stuck in a certain way of doing things and can't disengage from processes that are unhelpful. And, perhaps lower conscientiousness means that the brain does not process information thoroughly enough before attending to other matters. These hint at the clean-up-after-yourself problem.

We can also project this from simple conceptual developments surrounding neural network and information representation and retrieval. A fixed neural network region can only represent 1 state of information at any one time, even though that state may be a complex one. In order for that network to move on to represent another state effectively, it must settle into a stable representation of the 1st state. Otherwise, the two states will overlap and the representation will be compromised. By this token, subsequent attempts to retrieve a given state will be more difficult or less accurate because the two states simpy do not exist as separate entities.

How does a network stabilize it's state representations? The answer is work. After you are done, clean up. Put it back in a place in order. Plan ahead and project what you need to know to get the stuff back in the future, and organize your stuff right now accordingly. Use placeholders. Don't just leave things lying around. Go deep. Understand the essence of stuff.

An example may easily be seen in spatial representations. It is much more efficient to know the rule that a square consists of 4 sides of equal length, and that the length is X, than to encode that the first side of a square is X length, the second is X length, the third is X length, and the fourth is X length. Working hard to understanding the essence of something helps to clean up brain space.

Another example relates to Hansel and Gretel. You're in a forest of trees. Everything looks the same. Realize that you are going to get lost. Think a little bit and realize that if you drop a trail, or do something out of the ordinary for yourself, you can find your way back later. Don't just jump head into the forest without thinking, hoping that you will somehow come out the right way again. Working hard to do something that insures you in the future also cleans up brain space.

Some will find it harder than others to clean up after themselves. Some stuff are harder to organize and pack up than others too. But in this is the beauty of the human being - that we are all creatures who have habits, and habits can be fostered, and habits make a hard thing easier, or at least help us not to mind doing it. Familiarity feels good.

1 comment:

  1. Efficient use of brain space was designed to help us sum up things accordingly. As we learn to organize things on the place that they should be, we’re bringing ourselves nearer to right perspective. This blog give me an idea on how can I really manage stuffs, You may also visit this site ““. This may also help you :)