Don’t Work Harder, Think Smarter

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am passionate about brain-based methodology and research. I’m that guy in response to the recent teal/gray or pink/white shoe debate asking, what does the research suggest about this phenomenon? The joy of identifying a problem, finding evidence, and applying data-driven solutions is, wait for it…exciting! Now, I understand my passion is probably an exception to the rule but I will say, it is reassuring to find so many people also interested in science, especially research involving the brain.

As evidenced by the recent NeuroLeadership Institute 2017 Summit, people clearly want to learn more about how the mind works. Yet, it’s amazing how many people still buy into the myths about the brain, especially the claim, “the average person only uses 10% of his/her brain.” This #fakenews suggests most of you reading this blog right now are not living up to your full potential and if there was somehow a way to unlock these untapped resources in our brain we could create a world filled with ‘Limitless’ Bradley Coopers and Scarlett Johanssons. But before we envision ourselves running around as biological supercomputers, let’s take a step back and ask the question, is more really better?

The average adult human brain makes up only 2% of your total body weight (even when you’re sucking in) and yet this relatively tiny organ uses ⅕ of all available energy (Clark & Sokoloff, 1999). Additionally, the brain only prefers to use one particular form of energy (glucose; except when it gets really “hangry”). So, you can easily call your brain a tiny primadonna, but it is mighty! Every time you move, solve a problem, have a thought, a feeling, an emotion, you can thank that 3 lb. command center. Given how demanding this organ already is however, can you imagine how taxing it would be if that brain was any bigger?

From an energy consumption standpoint, any increase in brain size would suggest an overall increase in relative calorie usage. I know we all like to eat but we would have to consume that much more to feed that growing diva in your head. Speaking of our head, if our brains got any bigger we would need a place to house it. If any of you are like me and are self-conscious of your forehead size, that noggin is going to get a whole lot bigger with an ever expanding brain.

So, I think the better question is why the overall fascination and desire of having a bigger brain? Who is to say bigger is better? I argue, why not a desire to work more efficiently? Our brain is designed to be efficient. It can pay attention to important pieces of our world, store that necessary information and “Brita filter” away all of the useless junk. But if those filters are so important for what comes into our brain and therefore what we store in it, when is the last time you changed your filters? This is where the importance of training and learning lies. Engaging in new training cleans out those old filters and allows your brain to operate more efficiently, smarter, which is arguably more impactful than having a bigger brain.


So, if you’re interested in a tune-up, changing out your filters and learning something new, look no further. Attend one of our upcoming events or contact us for a free consultation to learn evidence based solutions for you and your workforce to start thinking smarter, not working harder.

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Follow Erikson Neilans, Ph.D.:

Professor and in-house neuroscience expert

Erikson is a psychophysical researcher focusing on factors that influence how people perceive the world around them. As an individual highly engaged in neuromarketing and psychophysical techniques, he brings a great deal of knowledge to our brain-based approach. Through his years of research, Erikson has produced many peer-reviewed articles in notable journals, receiving numerous academic awards. His experience has led to a data-driven approach to decision making and an emphasis on using evidence to solve problems.

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