Getting Smarter. Creating a Strategic Brain. Part 2

In Part 1, we heard from Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD and Director for the Center for Brain Health in Dallas about the “fry-oh-my” effect (my as-close-to-scientific-as-I-will-ever-get-terminology) we are creating by overloading our brains with too much useless information.  We learned that access to more information is definitely NOT making us smarter.

We learned that being less concerned with remembering everything and more focused on what we really need to know……or in her words, creating a “strategic brain” is the way to sustainable brain health and quality of life.

Says Chapman: “My research has confirmed an interesting paradox: when one focuses  first, on remembering minute details, it may adversely affect the ability to engage in more strategic, abstract thinking (the power to reason and create is the hallmark of a healthy brain). When the focus is on more strategic, critical thinking then the ability to remember details is actually heightened.  Remembering more details becomes easier.”

First:  What is a Strategic Brain?

According to Chapman, a strategic brain “filters information by deliberately sorting input and output.  It simultaneously attends to necessary/essential information while filtering out extraneous data that is less critical to the task at hand.”

By contrast, the non-strategic brain tries to take everything in.  Overload, undermines.

Here are some of her suggestions for becoming more strategic with the use of our brain power.

1. Become more conscious of what you are allowing into your sphere of information.  Determine to become selective and vigilant about what you are going to watch, read and listen to.  Reading about what Khloe Kardashian wore on the red carpet might be a waste of your brain power, for example.  Don’t be an internet rubbernecker.

2.  By re-taking control of your brain—focusing on just one or two key goals per day and filtering out distractions from those specific goals—you will retrain your brain.  It will boost your energy and increase your self-confidence.

What we have learned is that “garbage in”clogs the brain” and unlike what a good pile of compost does to create gorgeous flowers, this will not be the same effect on your mental acuity.

3.  “Join a discussion group with a specified topic.  It stimulates critical thinking.  It also stimulates the auditory impulses in your brain by listening to others and their points of view. You will be using your brain more fully just by listening and discussing.”  Another suggestion, if gathering a group  seems too daunting, is to listen to the talks, covering a virtual buffet of topics at  You can sign up to receive these thought provoking short lectures every day or every week.  They are like a vitamin for your brain power.

4.  “Indeed, you have the potential to change your brain with anything you do that has some level of challenge, novelty or variety.”  That’s why travel to new places, trying to new restaurants, going to museums with new exhibits, listening to new music, meeting new people, provides interest and stimulation to a deeper level of your intellect.

5.  “Step back and let your brain rest. Stop blinding your mind.”  This is not just about getting enough sleep, although getting regular, restful sleep is critical to overall health.  This is about giving your brain “sips of rest” throughout the day.  One suggestion was to incorporate cell-phone reminders—- at key points during the day just to turn everything off, close your eyes and breathe.

Part 3 on the way…….Are you actually “blinding your mind” by multi-tasking?





Leave a Reply