Brain break 8: The auto-complete function of the brain.

For this week’s brain-break you don’t need to do anything, it fills itself: The auto-complete function of the brain.

When looking at a picture of a sunny day at the beach, you can almost smell the scent of sun screen, right? This is because our brain often completes our memories and automatically recollect the different aspects of the experience. You can look at this as large chains of connected concepts. Or so-called associative networks. These networks arise from experiences. For example, you can see, smell, feel, read or hear that several concepts belong together. When a concept is triggered in this network, other concepts also become automatically activated. This is how our brain works with a built-in ‘auto-complete function’.

Make associations!
The universities of Birmingham and Bonn have joined forces and revealed the underlying mechanisms of this auto-complete function. This research has shown that the hippocampus, a brain region that plays a key role in associative memory, works like a librarian. For example, the hippocampus can give pointers that tell the rest of our brain where certain memories are stored. And in this way the corresponding concepts are activated. The more often concepts are brought together in real life, the stronger the association in your brain. When the associations between concepts are strong, your auto-complete function will become faster and more accurate.

Use a mindmapping technique to make associations and fine tune your auto-complete function!

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