Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Amateur Neuroscientist's Notebook: I Love When This Happens.

I turned on my TV this afternoon, and it was tuned to TCM (Turner Classic Movies), which was airing a movie I'd never seen before. In less than 10 seconds, I correctly named it. It happened so easily that I could have taken the occurrence as evidence of "cosmic consciousness," or some other psychic/paranormal phenomenon.

Instead, I thought about it about a little more, and realized more fully what had happened.

When I turned on the TV, I saw a boy of about 8 or 10, engaged in conversation with a man who I'd say was 50ish. This is the boy (with a different man):

The boy's thatch of blond hair reminded me immediately of Ricky Schroder as he appeared in the movie, "The Champ,"  which I saw in the theatre when it came out in 1979. For those who don't know (spoiler alert), it's a male weepie in which an aging boxer (Jon Voigt) fights one last fight for his son, then dies.

I remembered that the movie I saw was a remake of one made decades before, and based on my experience of TCM's programming, I guessed that they were airing the original, and said, "The Champ."

And was right.

I did not remember, and perhaps I had never known, that in 1931, the boy was Jackie Cooper and the boxer, Wallace Beery.

But I love, love, love the fact that the stuff I did remember, I remembered instantly. With no conscious effort, my brain made a slew of connnections and spat out to the correct answer to a question I'm not even sure that I asked.

The ability to instantly and consistently make those sorts of subliminal connections between obscure and disparate details is a large part of the leap toward being an ubermensch that Bradley Cooper's character, Eddie Morra, takes in "Limitless."  I wonder how much of that leap can actually be made today, without using pills as Eddie Morra did.

I think I may have actually trained myself over the years to be absent-minded and forgetful. But if I can effortlessly remember Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight and their movie being a remake, are there ways to train my brain to make more of those connections?

Maybe I'll start with hanging out at Lumosity... 

Do you have a story of an occasion when you noticed your brain working really well? What ways have you found to help your brain to work better, more often?
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