23.05.2017

Creating a High Performance Brain

Neuroplasticity research has proven that the brain, under the right conditions, is incredibly flexible and versatile

Dr. Marian Diamond is my new hero. But she’s hardly new. For the last 60 years, Dr. Diamond has been studying the brain at the University of California, Berkeley.

Until the 1960s, the scientific community was adamant that the capacity of any given brain is fixed—permanently—and that our genetic inheritance had “pre-set” our intellectual abilities. Today, we call this “genetic predeterminism”, and I’m happy to say that Dr. Diamond is one of the people chiefly responsible for helping us dispel this terrible myth.

In their groundbreaking research, Dr. Diamond and her colleagues discovered that the brain has the capacity to develop and evolve throughout life. As a result, we’re in the middle of an explosion in brain research under the exciting new term, “neuroplasticity”. Neuroplasticity research has proven that the brain, under the right conditions, is incredibly flexible and versatile. And we’re only now beginning to discover just how “plastic” the brain really is. What was previously considered impossible is now becoming more possible than ever.

Let’s not forget that today’s business and creative challenges demand that we become more adaptive and brilliant with our solutions. So this is a topic that should be studied closely by anyone in advertising, marketing, design or innovation. But what are the conditions that enhance and support neuroplasticity? Dr. Diamond’s work clearly indicates that the following conditions are the most conducive to brain development:

  1. Nutrition – eating well and including a wide variety of nutritious foods
  2. Exercise – getting regular exercise that you enjoy doing
  3. Challenge – challenging your mind to stretch
  4. Newness – being exposed to new environments and stimuli
  5. Love – giving and receiving affection or appreciation of different kinds

Dr. Diamond and her team call these “enriched environments”. So, it stands to reason that any good advertising agency, startup or big company that wants to remain competitive should be creating enriched environments that provide employees with the aforementioned factors. Easy to say, perhaps harder to do—but so worth the thought and effort. Because in so doing, our brains will, in the words of Dr. Marian Diamond, “create ideas that will change the world around us.”

If you want to meet Dr. Diamond, go watch the wonderful 2016 documentary about her, titled “My Love Affair with the Brain” and be prepared to fall in love.

-W.