Friday, March 13, 2009

Doodling is Brain's Work

Recently I came across a topic about Doodling. For newcomers on net, Doodling is art of drawing aimlessly. It has become widely popular after Google started using Doodling for its logo and kept changing to suit occasions, happenings, etc.. Okay now to the point, an informal research on people who Doodles has revealed interesting facts. Doodling doesn't necessarily needs to be an image to be put up somewhere, it can just like penning some irregular shapes during the office meetings or idle times in between conversations etc...

The research goes on and says like - To understand where the compulsion to doodle comes from, the first thing you need to do is look more closely at what happens to the brain when it becomes bored. According to Jackie Andrade, a professor of psychology at the University of Plymouth, though many people assume that the brain is inactive when they're bored, the reverse is actually true.

"If you look at people's brain function when they're bored, we find that they are using a lot of energy — their brains are very active," Andrade says.

The reason, she explains, is that the brain is designed to constantly process information. But when the brain finds an environment barren of stimulating information, it's a problem.

"You wouldn't want the brain to just switch off, because a bear might walk up behind you and attack you; you need to be on the lookout for something happening," Andrade says.

So when the brain lacks sufficient stimulation, it essentially goes on the prowl and scavenges for something to think about. Typically what happens in this situation is that the brain ends up manufacturing its own material.

In other words, the brain turns to daydreams, fantasies of Oscar acceptance speeches and million-dollar lottery wins. But those daydreams take up an enormous amount of energy.

Andrade tested her theory by playing a lengthy and boring tape of a telephone message to a collection of people, only half of whom had been given a doodling task. After the tape ended she quizzed them on what they had retained and found that the doodlers remembered much more than the non doodlers.

"They remembered about 29 percent more information from the tape than the people who were just listening to the tape," Andrade says.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What is Friendship - Anatomy of Friendship

It's widely accepted that friendships are invaluable to the soul but few of us were aware that they could also boost the bank account.

A study of 10,000 US students over a period of 35 years suggests the wealthiest people are those that had the most friends at school. Each extra schoolfriend added 2% to the salary.

The researchers said this was because the workplace is a social setting and those with the best social skills prosper in management and teamwork.

If a wide circle of friends is taken as a popularity indicator, does that mean the more you have the more successful and happy you are? Or can you have too many? What is the best number?

The average number is about 150, says leading anthropologist Robin Dunbar.

It may sound like a lot, but think of your Christmas card list - 50 cards to 50 couples = 100 friends.

"It's the number of people that you know as persons and you know how they fit into your social world and they know how you fit into theirs. They are a group of people to which you have an obligation of friendship."

They usually consist of an inner circle of five "core" people and an additional layer of 10, he says. That makes 15 people - some will probably be family members - who are your central group and then outside that, there's another 35 in the next circle and another 100 on the outside. And that's one person's social world.

Friendships help us develop as people, says Mark Vernon, author of The Philosophy of Friendship, but the very term "friend" covers a whole range of relationships. You have a very close friendship with your partner but with others it may just be a common interest or history or simply children the same age.

"Aristotle said friends must have eaten salt together and what he meant is there's a sense that people have lived a significant part of their life together. They've sat down and shared meals and the ups and downs of life.

"You really have to have mulled over things with them to become really good friends and there's only so many people you can do that with.

"You can have friends because of what you do together or enjoy something together like football or shopping, but they're not as profound friends as those who you love for themselves because of something in their character. And it doesn't matter what you're doing with them, even sitting alone in a room."

'One in, one out'

There's a limit to how many close friends like this you can have and it's probably between six and 12, he says.

"I think this idea that you can have virtually limitless numbers of friends does water down the concept of friendship. I think it's one of those things where less is more."

Not if you're a socialite like designer Nicky Haslam, who recently threw a party for 800 friends. But even people who don't inhabit the heady world of fashion and celebrity have too many friends to manage.

A newspaper columnist once told of her shock when, having struck up a rapport with a man over dinner, she was told at the end of the meal he had no vacancies for friends. He was operating a "one-in, one-out" policy. Six months later she received a card stating he was now available for friendship.

That's an extreme example but many people view their friendships scientifically and regulate them accordingly.

Julie, a 34-year-old PR consultant in London, says she has three categories of friends. Firstly there are nine close friends - the Premier League - whom she could ring any time of day or night and they would drop everything and come if necessary.

"I try to see them every few weeks and speak at least once a fortnight. I have a rota in my head and try and ring one of them each night as I drive home from work. It shows how pressured we are for time that speaking to friends is multi-tasking."

Julie's next social group has about 20 people, mostly men, whom she would see every couple of months, then there are more than 100 people beyond that on the outer fringes - friends from work, friends from her last job and friends from travelling.

"There are two people whom I don't really want to stay friends with but I don't have the heart to say no to. People I used to work with, they invite you to dinner and then you feel you have to invite them back, but you really don't have the time and it gets really stressful, especially since getting a boyfriend.

"I want to spend two nights a week with him, two nights to myself at home and two nights at the gym, so that leaves one night to see people."

There is a perception that as society has become more mobile, and traditional family bonds have loosened, friendships have become more fleeting. But on the other hand, modern technology has meant we can stay in touch with more people than ever.

"First email, then mobile, and now social networking sites like Facebook have made it much easier for people to grow their circle of friends beyond their immediate inner circle," says digital media expert Dan Clays of BLM Quantum.

"But the swelling is predominantly in the outer-reaches of their circle, and often the fringe group. If you were to examine the profile of someone's group of friends on Facebook, the probability is that a large contingent were accepted as friends out of curiosity and after an initial exchange, the level of dialogue slows down to a trickle."

This is especially apparent in the 16-24 audience group, the digital generation, he says, so it will be interesting to see if they are able to maintain that contact later in life.

But maybe we're too fixated on numbers, says Mr Vernon.

"Ask yourself about the quality of your friendships, not about the quantity."

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