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Optimizing Your Brain At Work
December 3, 2009 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Optimizing Your Brain at Work is a pretty fascinating talk at Google by David Rock about managing your brain's internal states and attention, as well as threat responses with the goal of optimizing information processing. It is a Youtube link, and fairly long (~55min). He also mentions The Neuroscience of Mindfulness during the talk, so here is a convenient link to that.
posted by Vulpyne (28 comments total) 120 users marked this as a favorite

 
tl;dw - give it to me as:
* bulleted list, or
* short paragraphs at most, consisting of
  - 5 lines long
  - containing no more than three short easy to read sentences.

(w/o snark - interesting stuff to watch when I have more time)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:37 AM on December 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I can't even look at this. It's making me feel too guilty.
posted by ohyouknow at 11:38 AM on December 3, 2009


Optimize for work on your own time, citizen. That's what it's for, after all.
posted by clarknova at 11:46 AM on December 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Step 1: Do not create ambiguous parsings. For instance, (Optimizing Your (Brain at Work)) vs ((Optimizing Your Brain) at Work).
posted by DU at 11:47 AM on December 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Time flies like an arrow.
posted by Vulpyne at 11:52 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


After about the third instance of the article's author confusing "effecting" with "affecting" and "practice" with "practise", I sort of ran out of momentum. Video looks awesome, though :)
posted by malusmoriendumest at 11:53 AM on December 3, 2009


After about the third instance of the article's author confusing "effecting" with "affecting" and "practice" with "practise", I sort of ran out of momentum. Video looks awesome, though :)

He's not confused, he's British.
posted by tula at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, this actually seems to be totally accurate (3:49 in thus far)
posted by scrutiny at 12:11 PM on December 3, 2009


Whoops, I go it wrong--he's British, but he's using "practice" like we do in the US.
posted by tula at 12:11 PM on December 3, 2009


With the time flies like an arrow, I interpreted it more as it goes fast when your young, slows when you're middle aged, and goes faster and faster as you approach death.
posted by scrutiny at 12:19 PM on December 3, 2009


That's only if you're shooting your arrow straight up in the sky, scrutiny.
posted by spicynuts at 12:34 PM on December 3, 2009


I was working until I saw this article.

Where was I?
posted by clvrmnky at 1:11 PM on December 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


If a proposition on optimizing information processing of the brain resorts to a 55-minute video lecture rather than a succinct written presentation, then it's pretty clear that the presentation itself has completely missed the point. In fact I'm wondering if this is an exercise in irony.
posted by crapmatic at 2:45 PM on December 3, 2009


Wow. Every educator - and parent - should watch this. Even though he is not addressing developing brains, it is easy to see how much damage can be done to children in "standard practice" in schools.

There are just so many nuggets in this video - so much information about how to use (protect) one's brain. Sure, there is much overlap of others' work, but this presentation is a very tight package. Thanks for the links!

Mahalo for the link!
posted by Surfurrus at 2:58 PM on December 3, 2009


TL;DR version for you: Obviously there is a lot more information contained within the 55 minutes of the talk.
posted by Vulpyne at 2:59 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


BTW, that was for crapmatic, not Surfurrus. :)
posted by Vulpyne at 2:59 PM on December 3, 2009


Not sure why all the snarking: I thought it was a fun little presentation. Nothing mindblowing. The guy is a management guru, not a scientist, but this is about the amount of material that is not directly related to areas of expertise that you can absorb in that time frame.

That said, I suspect that there's something complicated going on in the narrative/empirical distinction he makes, such that pop-neuroscience is actually a narrative that allows us to de-narrativize our experience and jujutsu our emotions. Amusingly, the Stoics had this basic materialism/indifference connection figured out two millenia ago, but it's always nice to be reminded.

tl;dr? It seems like the overarching argument is something like:

1. Concentration is a precious resource, and if you waste it, you'll be useless at work.
2. The biggest way to waste your focus is to leave emotional issues, especially status threats, unresolved.
3. The attention-sapping effect of distracting emotions can be negated by reappraising your reactions early and often. Realism = despair
4. Good reappraisal skills can be trained through 'mindfulness.' Rock describes mindfulness as a non-religious practice of focusing concentration in order to distinguish the sensorium from our judgments about it.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:08 PM on December 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hello up there, Vulpyne!
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:09 PM on December 3, 2009


Sounded Australian to me, not English (Brit here btw).
posted by schwa at 3:29 PM on December 3, 2009


How visual is this? Is this something that I need to watch, or can I listen to it instead?
posted by gagoumot at 3:38 PM on December 3, 2009


If a proposition on optimizing information processing of the brain resorts to a 55-minute video lecture rather than a succinct written presentation, then it's pretty clear that the presentation itself has completely missed the point. In fact I'm wondering if this is an exercise in irony.

Lady Jessica: Remember the Litany Against Fear.
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings-

Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No fear, got ya. Are we good?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:53 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this. Something that I needed after a rough day at work. I am busy reinterpreting my day now.
posted by Shebear at 5:23 PM on December 3, 2009


The brain is far more risk averse than positive stimuli-seeking.

Never met my brain.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 7:28 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


gagoumot: you'll need volume for the video. He does a lot of speaking.
posted by onalark at 1:37 AM on December 4, 2009


With the time flies like an arrow, I interpreted it more as it goes fast when your young, slows when you're middle aged, and goes faster and faster as you approach death.
The sentence is a well known example of natural language parsing and is constructed to use a lot of words that can be verbs as well as nouns. The example is used to point out that words are assigned syntactical types and that sentence structure follows.
To put it differently: any meaning in that sentence is coincidental.
The presenter is surprised that quite a few Google employees can quickly come up with different parsings for that sentence. That's probably because Google has hired quite a few talents from university with experience in natural language parsing.
posted by joost de vries at 1:48 PM on December 4, 2009


Perhaps he was not surprised and set up a situation where he could put the group in a better frame of mind through crunchy positive feedback. :) I think quite a few people (including myself) already heard of the "Time Flies Like An Arrow" thing and did not dynamically generate an answer.

It was interesting watching this in the context of knowing the presenter was unusually familiar with mental workings. One place where that was pretty clear was when he drew on the board and then went to a slide with the exact same thing. Made it obvious he was trying to create a process rather than just disgorging information.
posted by Vulpyne at 2:08 PM on December 4, 2009


I watched this while at work. :)
posted by norbulator at 5:01 PM on December 4, 2009


Fruit flies like a banana.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:28 PM on December 5, 2009


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