I just learned some stuff about the brain that was relatively new to me. Maybe these five facts will be new to you too.

I learned them from The Scientific American Brave New Brain: How Neuroscience, Brain-Machine Interfaces, Neuroimaging, Psychopharmacology, Epigenetics, the Internet, and Our Own Minds are Stimulating and Enhancing the Future of Mental Power by journalist Judith Horstman.

1. To keep new brain cells alive, you've got to give them a workout. The more effort you exert to learn something new, the better. If you're naturally faster at learning some new subject or task, you may not be working hard enough to challenge your neurons.

2. Memory is not so much about the past as about "helping us move through the now. It's the process of acquiring and storing information from our experiences that we will need for navigating similar experiences in the future."

3. You've got a digital social addiction if "e-mail's the first thing you check in the morning and the last at night. In fact, you never log out." A computer crash panics you, you have more internet friends than you do in real life, and so on. (Busted!)

4. Calming a brain region called Brodmann area 25 may someday help us short-circuit mental illness. Maybe.

5. We may someday marry robots who are capable of acting as though they love you, proposes artificial intelligence researcher David Levy, who suggests this may be better than remaining lonely.


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