Discover more from Hidden Brain
Can naps make you a better problem-solver?
Plus, birds of a feather…Zoom together?
“It went against everything that I had been taught. You don't quit things.” – economist John List
The Twilight Zone. Rumor has it that Thomas Edison and Salvador Dalí induced themselves into a twilight sleep—that is, a zone between sleep and wakefulness–in order to encourage creative thinking. This is also known as “nonrapid eye movement sleep.” But does it actually work? Researchers at the Paris Brain Institute wanted to answer that question. So they recruited volunteers and had them attempt to solve a mathematical riddle. Some of the volunteers solved it wide awake, others took a long nap and then attempted the riddle, and a third group was encouraged to doze off in a chair while holding a small cup. The idea was, if they fell asleep, the cup would drop and make a sound, which would then wake them up before they reached too deep of a sleep. This would get them in that ideal zone of “nonrapid eye movement sleep.” And it worked: people who spent at least 15 seconds in that state tripled the chance of solving the puzzle. “[These] findings suggest that there is a creative sweet spot within the sleep-onset period, and hitting it requires individuals balancing falling asleep easily against falling asleep too deeply,” the study reported.
Polly, you’re on mute. Parrots are highly social creatures that often don’t get enough stimulation in captivity. In an experiment, researchers built a parrot-to-parrot video calling system — basically, Zoom for birds. They wanted to see how the parrots would respond to video communication, and the findings were surprising. After using the system for three months, parrots started to make calls to hang out with other parrots. “The more the parrot received calls, the more the parrot made video calls,” the study reported. The birds were also able to learn skills, like foraging or even flying, by watching other birds on the video calls. Jennifer Cunha, one of the study’s authors, told NPR that some of the birds continue to call each other. "They really seem to, as one owner said, come alive during the calls.”
Thanks for the memories. It happens to the best of us: we blank on someone’s name, or forget an important meeting, or bomb a test we thought we’d ace. But there are strategies that can help build our memory muscle. Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
May 1: American culture celebrates those who persevere in the face of adversity. So how do we know when to walk away from something that’s not working? We kick off our new “Success 2.0” series with economist John List. He says in every domain of our lives, it’s important to know when to pivot to something new.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
May 2: Some fifty years ago, Bill found himself alone at an event. Then someone turned and said, “Would you like to join us?”
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to email@example.com.
FROM OUR LISTENERS
A man is pushing his car. He stops in front of a hotel and immediately knows he is bankrupt. How did he know this?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
Serena and Venus decided to play tennis against each other. They bet one dollar on each game they played. Serena won three bets and Venus won five dollars. How many games did they play?
The answer: They played 11 games in total. Think of it this way: Venus lost three games so she had to win an additional three just to break even. Then, she had to win five more games to earn the five dollars. 3+3+5=11. (source)
A MOMENT OF JOY
Who let the birds out? (chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp)
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