Growing up, the dogma of the day was that you had only so many neurons way before you became an adult, and after that, the number just declined. The neurons were never replaced. It was a dismal picture, and I could never quite believe it. Recent research has disproved this idea. Adult brains can grow new neurons, not just new branches on old neurons. Granted, this isn’t new news, but the implications can hardly be emphasized enough.
A great article on Kathy Sierra’s blog shows that being in an office cubical can cause brain damage, or something very much akin to it. Isn’t it strange that so much creative intellectual work would be done in cubicles? Or is it really productive work after all?
Another great blog post from Kathy shows that being around angry people causes brain damage too. Researchers have found we have “mirror neurons” that match the people around us. We just have to watch someone be a rock star, and part of our brain turns into a rock star. Or being around someone who is angry causes the mirror neurons to match, and we become angry.
Perhaps the soil metaphor for our mind and spirit is a scientific one too. If our brain actually grows, maybe it’s a good idea to plant good seeds. Like the parable Jesus used in the gospels. And maybe it’s a good idea to keep the soil fertile too with good fertilizer. Good fertilizer for the brain as well as the soul. The mirror neuron research indicates that being around happy people would lead to healthy brain soil. What do you think would be good NPK for the head? Or the mental equivalent of healthy fertilizer?
Being a programmer, my sense is it’s all about the environment. Having a healthy pleasant environment. The soil is like our experience. Going back to the issue of cubicles, is it any wonder that a company like Google is doing so well, coming up with such great ideas, when it not only gives all the programmers real offices, but Google also offers free healthy meals. How are you nourishing the environment of your life?