How to justify a nap to your boss
Plus: mapping our minds
“How do you know that’s true?” - Abhijit Banerjee.
Cat naps. We usually associate naps with rest and relaxation. But the period right before we fall asleep may have benefits as well. In a recent study in Science Advances, researchers asked people to relax for 20 minutes. Some of the participants stayed awake. Some drifted into that in-between state that comes right as you fall asleep, and others took naps. Then they answered math questions, which had a hidden rule that allowed them to solve the problems quickly. Those who almost fell asleep but didn’t quite get there were about three times more likely to discover the secret trick than those who didn’t sleep at all and about six times more likely than those who slept for a while. The authors speculate that the early stages of sleep can present the “ideal cocktail for creativity.” So the next time you curl up in the middle of a work day, you can still call it work.
Literal brain waves. Ever wonder why the human brain has that strange maze-like shape? At The Conversation, Mir Jalil Razavi and Weiying Dai write that the inner layer of the brain grows more slowly than the outer layer. As a result, the inner layer prevents the outer one from fully fanning out, forcing the outer layer to fold into its shape. Some scientists think this process amplifies the surface area of the brain. This theory explains why the brain is such a complex organ, and it might help our understanding of autism and schizophrenia, both of which have distinct brain structures.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
March 7th: Do you ever stop to wonder if the way you see the world is how the world really is? Economist Abhijit Banerjee has spent a lifetime asking himself this question. His answer: Our worldviews often don't reflect reality. The only way to get more accurate is to think like a scientist — even when you're not looking through a microscope.
March 14th: What happens to our minds when we feel like we're being pulled in emotionally opposite directions? Psychologist Naomi Rothman has found that ambivalence changes the way we think about ourselves — and how others think about us.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
March 8th: John Moe is languishing at his customer service job when a woman in HR suggests that he is destined for greater things.
March 10: After giving birth to her second child, Mary Amato is struggling with her identity as a stay-at-home mom. But then an older woman says something to her that makes all the difference.
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What has cities, but no houses; forests, but no trees; and water, but no fish?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
I left my campsite and hiked south for 3 miles. Then I turned east and hiked for 3 miles. I then turned north and hiked for 3 miles, at which time I came upon a bear inside my tent eating my food! What color was the bear?
The answer: White. The only place you can hike 3 miles south, then east for 3 miles, then north for 3 miles and end up back at your starting point is the North Pole. Polar bears are the only bears that live at the North Pole, and they are white.
FROM THE TWITTERATI…
A MOMENT OF JOY
As winter turns to spring, it’s time to start dancing in the street!
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