Nicole Small

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Brain: The Most Feared Muscle

A while back, I started lifting weights and through my experience, I developed a theory about the brain that likens it greatly to our skeletal muscles. Although the brain is primarily comprised of grey and white matter, it's hard not to relate the "pain" experienced in the brain when learning a new concept to the "pain" experienced when repeatedly lifting a weight. I decided to do a little research on this concept and discovered that it was already a working theory (once again proving that I'm not the first to come up with a good idea.)
I wanted to go a step further on the psychological path of this theory, however; by delving into a new trend that seemingly excuses people from thinking. Have you ever heard someone pause in the middle of an attempt at comprehension and complain that his or her head hurts too badly to continue? I've hypothesized that if learning something new is making my head hurt, then that must mean I'm absorbing the information on a more comprehensive level. There's a certain commitment involved in retraining your brain to crave this "pain" rather than to fear it.
As a whole, civilization is teetering on the brink of a mental collapse. We absorb information differently when we don't critically analyze our surroundings. We can all stare at a screen, but the question is "What are we looking at?" Are we seeing what's really there, or just what someone else wants us to see? How differently do we all interpret the same messages?

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      Aug 19 2012: Thanks for your input. I was actually comparing the brain to a muscle for the exact reason that you compare it to a computer. When you lift weights (with the intent to grow them,) you are tearing the muscle by stretching the fibers. The muscles need time to heal properly or the workout loses some of its potency and it takes longer to grow the muscle. I admit that I failed to mention that in my original statement. I'm glad that you brought that point to light.
      Speaking of the "silent Era," I recently purchased two ORIGINAL photographs of Rudolph Valentino- one from Cobra and the other is from Son of the Sheik. They're hanging on my wall with an original of Sam Clemens and an original of the Marx Brothers from The Big Store. (Thought you might appreciate that.) Thanks again, Don.
  • Aug 19 2012: I have heard "stop talking about that, my brain hurts" used occasionally, it's often by specific people who don't like talking about complex subjects. I think it's more often euphemism for "I'm soooo not interested in that right now" since they will often go on talking about other things if the subject is changed =)

    I have never had a headache I could attribute to thinking. The feeling of not being able to wrap your thoughts around a certain subject is humbling and confusing, maybe that is experienced as pain for some people. Once you "get it" the confusion goes away, so there is definitely something to that theory.
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      Aug 19 2012: Well-said. I'm impressed by the fact that you connected confusion with pain. I have to admit, it makes sense to me, since I admittedly get angry when I'm confused, but I also become more stubborn about acquiring the facts. I'm almost ashamed of myself at this moment; realizing that my brain is a little wonky and reacts so strangely to the comprehension process. I'm still waiting to see if there's anyone else who can relate to this. I actually thought it was common. What a surprise.
      • Aug 19 2012: I think brains are all "a little wonky", learning is a very individual process and this is why our public education system is getting worse as it becomes more standardized. You just can't fit all the different shaped pegs into the same hole, so to speak.

        It's very possible that concentrated thinking can be felt as physical pain, I bet it isn't too unusual either. That's the amazing part about this existence, you can learn something new at least every day if you keep your brain open.
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    Aug 18 2012: When I was exorting my small boys to try to find a peaceful solution to their problems, I used to tell them to 'use your strongest muscle". They knew I meant to try to think their way out of the situation. They also knew that I called brain tissue that because it controlled all of their muscles - which are a big item of pride and interest to small boys. The eldest is now a 31 year old diplomat.
    There are theories in psychology that suggest that human development is mirrored by societal development. Good luck with your topic. My head does not hurt when I learn. It feels great.
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      Aug 19 2012: Thanks for your encouragement. That was a helpful tip; about how you approached this with small children. I am reminded of something Philip Zimbardo said in his Ted Talks, "How People Become Monsters or Heroes." He ended the lecture on a note about positive reinforcement in schools and helping to teach kids that they are heroes in waiting. I thought the idea was nice (something I would have loved as a kid,) but it's a hard-sell to most parents who try so hard to keep their children safe by teaching them not to stick their necks out for others-especially strangers. I'm not the best judge, though, since I choose not to have children.
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        Aug 19 2012: I think every kid (should) have a hero to look up to.

        In the new movie, Dark Knight Rises, John Blake displays this very well. He grew up as an orphan hating a lot of things, just like most people in that movie. He could have grown up to become a criminal or one of the angry revolutionaries, but instead he became a Gotham City young gun police officer with the sole purpose of being the hero with the moral duty to protect citizens and fight crime and doing what he believes in his heart to be right and just. This was all because he looked up to his childhood hero, Batman.

        As he looked up to his hero, he became a hero himself to many of those other orphans he saved and a hero to the other police officers in the movie.
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          Aug 19 2012: I want to see a movie that celebrates the millions of people who grow up to make a difference and to be NOBLE just because there was absolutely no one there when they were in need. These people have tested every step and approach to be benign and loving and supportive. It is done with only literary models at best.
          Right after I see the one you recommended.
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        Aug 19 2012: I honestly don't know any one that's not too cliched, but I feel like Dark Knight Rises did a pretty good job. I know some similar stories that isn't a movie however. There's a manga called Monster: http://www.mangahere.com/manga/monster/v01/c001/, dunno if mangas appeal to you...
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          Aug 19 2012: Manga is my son Daniel's absolute favourite and he and I share a sense of humour -poor boy!
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          Aug 19 2012: James, I tried reading the manga. I got about 25 pages into it. It's pretty good, but I'm sort of lame in the manga aspect and tend to be partial to the Dragon Ball series. I really love DB and DBZ. Thanks for sharing the link. I may go back later and give it another try.
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        Aug 19 2012: @Debra

        nice! So I take it he reads the humorous manga.

        @Nicole Small

        Very nice too! I've watched Dragonball Z cuz it was pretty much any kid's favorite childhood lol, not too much DB though, but I know of it.
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      Aug 19 2012: @Debra *thumbs up*

      I have never actually experienced headaches directly correlated to learning, not that I know of...

      I dunno, maybe those headaches do trigger stimulation in areas of the brain that helps people learn certain things...
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        Aug 19 2012: I experience these small aches when I'm trying to comprehend something very complex. I had to teach myself through a ton of reading material and documentaries how to picture examples of relativity. It happens primarily when I'm picturing an experiment in my mind as opposed to actually performing it. Don't get me wrong, though, once the subject is fully comprehended, I don't experience the headaches when thinking about it again. By the way, thank you for your contributions to my conversation. As far as your comment about the Dark Knight movie:
        I think you're spot-on. Philip Zimbardo makes a point in the beginning of the lecture I mentioned above on exactly what you're talking about. You can put several people in the same traumatizing situation and find it's surprisingly rare that heroic traits emerge. Typically, people are more inclined to be either instigators or pacifists. You sound like a hero to me. Cheers!
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          Aug 19 2012: Hmm maybe I should try to understand quantum physics or something super complex and see if I get the same headaches...

          Thanks, Nicole! I definitely aim to be "dat hero" lol :D
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      Aug 19 2012: ". My head does not hurt when I learn. It feels great."

      That's the thing about athletes.
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      Aug 20 2012: While it can also be loved just as tremendously if the brain chooses to do "good" and help others, rather than harm.
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    Aug 19 2012: Nicole, I hope I am not taking too great a liberty here but I do want to share something about when my head did hurt -big time so that others might be helped. Many years ago I had terrible migraines only occassionally and no meds helped. In fact only oxygen helped and now I also remember that demerole also helped in the extreme. What I want to share is that I remember clearly that the pain I felt when those clots hit my brainstem was IDENTICAL to the feeling I had during those migraines. I do not know if it is in anyway related but I want to err on the side of help for someone if that is possible.
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      Aug 19 2012: Thank you for your concern and help. If it means anything-I experience the pain in the frontal lobe. I had a severe head injury last year (but I've always felt these pains.) As a result of receiving the wound, I had to have MRI's done. They told me that I have a pineal tumor. Wow....I just painted a picture of someone with a lot of head problems. Anyway, if there is something wrong, I guess I'd prefer no to know. Maybe that's a good thing; if my brain goes first, I might experience less pain when I die.
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        Aug 19 2012: Nicole, let me be an encouragement. My life is certainly a bit different but even though it is changed and my balance is not really great - I sort of take mincing steps sometimes and I am not too good if someone bumps into me, where I used to be rock steady- LIFE is really wonderful. It is actually delicious.
        I feel lucky for weird reasons. I feel like I am living a completely different life and THAT is fascinating for someone like me.
        You have NEVER been a scardy cat. Why start now? Give yourself the very best chance of survival and dare to know. I might have consciously given up if I had been forwarned but in retrospect- after fighting like a tigress for this life- I admonish and implore you to FIGHT!
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        Aug 19 2012: Thank you, Don. We all need a bit more love!
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    Aug 19 2012: My head does not hurt when I'm learning new things; but after a long time of learning I feel an increase in temperature like a computer hard drive.
    The brain is the strongest muscle because of its impact when properly utilized.

    But sometimes one thinks the brain is producing its best when it is actually not. Sometimes the best of the brain does not produce visible admirable results. But good reasoning is profitable to an individual.

    Maybe humanity is not doing well as far as using our brain is concerned. The destructive impact of industrialisation makes one wonder if we are actually more civilised.

    I wish you a fruitful quest.
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      Aug 19 2012: Thank you for sharing your own observations with me (your head heating up.) Here's another thing I find interesting and it's likely different for everyone, but years ago I was attempting my own form of meditation and decided to see if I could make a part of my brain tingle. It took a bit of concentration at first, but now I can create a sensation quite easily. I'm not saying that I know for sure that it's affecting my brain in any way, but it does feel like it.
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    Aug 19 2012: True.
    When your brain is awake and happy,what ever you do,you will do it with full zeal and focus and at the end you will gain something from it and you will remember it for a long time.
    When your brain is sleeping and you try to forcefully awake it,you end up losing everything,though you have worked for a long time.
    So,when you get tired or when you feel queasy,you often take a break to feel rejuvenated.Similarly,it accounts to brain.
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    Aug 19 2012: We are sensory creatures... if you think about this that our eyes interpret a relatively small spectrum of light and analyse it in the brain our ears interpret a very smal amount of radiowaves and our brain analyse it in our brain..... touch taste smell its all interpretations lol sooo if you think about it our world is inside our brains... is our reality in the world or inside the mind... with 1 billion neurons controlling 1 trillion synapses which control the over 600 muscles in the body... is our world outside us or in??? is the pain we feel even real, is it a reaction to safe guard us like the lactic acid build up defense mechanism's in our body, then you have to question safeguard us from what??