Sunday, January 2, 2011

5 Ways To Hack Your Brain Into Awesomeness

By Joe DB Sep 21, 2009 4,541,868 views
article image

Much of the brain is still mysterious to modern science, possibly because modern science itself is using brains to analyze it. There are probably secrets the brain simply doesn't want us to know.

But by no means should that stop us from tinkering around in there, using somewhat questionable and possibly dangerous techniques to make our brains do what we want.

We can't vouch for any of these, either their effectiveness or safety. All we can say is that they sound awesome, since apparently you can make your brain...

Think You Got a Good Night's Sleep (After Only Two Hours of Actual Sleep)

So you just picked up the night shift at your local McDonald's, you have class every morning at 8am and you have no idea how you're going to make it through the day without looking like a guy straight out ofDawn of the Dead, minus the blood... hopefully.


What if we told you there was a way to sleep for little more than two hours a day, and still feel more refreshed than taking a 12-hour siesta on a bed made entirely out of baby kitten fur? No more sneaking naps at the fry station for you!

Holy Shit! How Do I Do It?

It's called the Uberman Sleep Schedule, and besides having a totally badass name, it's a way to get the maximum amount of essential sleep for your body without wasting hours of precious time you could be using to work or drink or farm for World of Warcraft gold. The schedule consists of taking six, 20-30 minute power naps, every four hours during the day. Of course, this new sleep pattern blows donkey-dick to get used to, but it's a price you have to pay to basically extend your waking life by several years.

We're pretty sure Kramer did this once on Seinfeld. So it's probably a great idea.

The best way to start it off is to just jump right in. Get to sleep at 8pm, set your alarm for 8:30. Get up, play some Call of Duty, sleep again at 12, alarm at 12:30, and so on. After three or four days of this you will start to get high as fuck because of sleep deprivation, and might just want to kill yourself, but don't do it! That would be absolutely counter-productive.

By day 10 or so, your brain will say, "Fuck! FINE, we'll do it your way," and will adapt to your new superhuman sleep schedule.

How Does It Work?

When you sleep normally, your body gets only about an hour and a half of REM sleep, the kind of sleep that is thought to be the most important to keeping your brain sharp. While other stages of sleep help your body to heal and grow, the REM sleep is what makes you feel rested.

Of course, sleeping in a bed doesn't hurt either.

The first few days of adjusting are tough because your body isn't getting ANY of this REM sleep, and your brain hates you for it. After the third day, or so, your brain figures out that you mean business, and every time you lay down for one of these naps, dives directly into REM sleep in an attempt to compensate for the deprivation. Do some quick math and that's two full hours of REM sleep, while those who are sleeping normally are only getting an hour and a half.

Before you know it, while the rest of the world snores away, you'll be up and drawing dicks on their faces.

Hallucinate Like You Just Took LSD, Legally

Yes, that's right kids! Tell your dealer goodbye and worry no more about winding up naked on the roof of an office building after a bad trip. Now you can be stoned out of your mind by building a homemade deprivation chamber out of some regular, completely harmless household objects.

Holy Shit, How Can I Do It!

You are going to need three things: a ping-pong ball, a radio with headphones and a red light.

Step 1: Turn the radio to a station with just white noise (static), and put on your headphones.

Step 2: Cut the ping-pong ball in half and tape each half over your eyes.

Step 3: Turn the red light so it's facing your eyes.

Step 4: Sit there for at least a half an hour.

Step 5: Follow Ben Franklin and your new friend, Harold the unicorn, into the gumdrop forest, and live happily ever after.

How Does It Work?

It's called the Ganzfeld effect, and it works by blocking out most of the signals that go to your brain. It's the same kind of effect you get when looking into a soft light for a while and lose vision, except at a larger scale.

The sound of the white noise and the light from the outside of the ping pong ball are eventually ignored by your brain. With all those signals out of the picture, your brain has to create its own, and this is where the hallucinations come in. We can't guarantee they won't involve, say, the ghost of Lizzie Borden trying to hack off your scrotum with an ax, but that's the risk you take, dammit.

Now, if you want a little more control over your hallucinations...

Dream Whatever You Want to Dream

What if we told you there was a way to make all your fantasies come true? You could have that sports car you've always wanted and the daily threesome with Sarah Palin and Cannonball Run-era Burt Reynolds. Hell, we'll even throw in a few superpowers for your enjoyment.

We never miss an opportunity to use this picture.

Welcome to the wonderful world of lucid dreaming.

Holy Shit, How Can I Do It?

Most of you reading this have had a lucid dream before. Every once in a while you wind up in a dream but somehow recognize it as a dream, and you may have found yourself able to pretty much program the dream to your specifications. While there are plenty of tips and tricks to make this happen on purpose, we've narrowed it down to what seems like the most useful, so that you can be riding dinosaurs with Gary Coleman in your sleep in no time:

Cowboy hat, optional.

1. Keep a Dream Journal

As soon as you wake up from a dream, write down every little thing you can remember about it. Supposedly by writing it down, your brain recognizes certain patterns that only occur in a dream (since most dreams are immediately forgotten) and if they are on paper, you can recall them easily.

2. Think about exactly what you want to dream right before you fall asleep. Makes sense. For instance you've probably fallen asleep watching MythBusters before and immediately dreamed you were flying through the air, using a giant version of Jamie's mustache as a hang glider.

Just us?

3. The best time to have a lucid dream is either right before you regularly wake up, or right after. Studies have shown that more people have lucid dreams when they take a nap shortly after they first wake up in the morning.

So you can do all that, or if you are the lazy type, get yourself something like the NovaDreamer, a device that detects when you've entered REM sleep and then makes a noise that's supposed to be not quite enough to wake you up, but enough to raise your awareness to, "Hey, this is totally a dream I'm having!" levels.

How Does It Work?

Obviously the big difference between a dream and real life is that if the Hamburglar came bursting out of your refrigerator right now and started screaming at you in Vietnamese, your first thought would be "This is a strange and unusual event that is occurring right now, and I should question my perceptions." If the same thing happens in a dream, you just go with it.

Yes, Mel Gibson is dressed like Col. Sanders. No, this is not a dream.

In a dream state, your mind mostly loses the ability to criticize anything that's happening because dreaming just doesn't involve the critical part of your brain. You're all worried that you're at work in your underwear, and don't even blink at the fact that your boss is a dragon who speaks in the voice of your old middle school gym coach.

But if you change your mental state ever so slightly, that critical part of your brain can keep functioning even while in dreamland. If you can perfect the technique of dreaming while not all the way asleep, the next thing you know you're ordering up a Smurf orgy.

Learn More While You Sleep

So say you haven't followed that first step up there and choose to continue sleeping like other mere mortals. A very minor change in your schedule can still let you use your sleep patterns to your advantage, by making you smarter.

Holy Shit, How Can I Do It?

No, we're not talking about those scams where they have you put a tape recorder under your pillow and let it teach you Spanish while you're asleep. What scientists have found out is if you need to remember a bunch of information (say, for a big exam), do NOT study right up until time for the exam. Study at least 24 hours before, and sleep on it.

Note: "Sleep on it" is simply an expression. You can sleep in a bed.

They did a study at Harvard that proved this technique works. Participants were separated into three different groups after being shown images that they were told to memorize. One of the groups was tested on the memorization after 20 minutes, the other after 12 hours and the last after 24 hours. You would expect that the ones who were tested just 20 minutes later would do best, but that would, of course, make a really shitty story.

No, the participants who slept on it and had 24 hours for the information to fester in their brain did the best on the test, while those who only had 20 minutes did the worst.

Wasting your time, nerds, go to sleep.

How Does It Work?

Scientists say the ability your brain has to retain information works in three different ways: acquisition, consolidation and recall. While the first and last occur while you're awake, it's the middle-man that is important during sleep.

When you sleep, your brain is constantly processing information that you couldn't have processed with everything going on up there during the day. This works to strengthen your neurological bonds in the brain. Think of it like downloading something on a computer. When you go to download something while your porn is up, it takes longer, right? Close up any applications that are running and you have a smoother, quicker download. Yeah, kind of like that... maybe.

So does this technique work with the "sleep two hours a day" system we mentioned earlier? We're not sure anyone has tried it, but by our calculations such a person would immediately gain mental superpowers, possibly including telekinesis. Somebody in the comments try it and let us know.

Believe Something Happened (That Totally Didn't)

Stop for a moment and recall your fondest childhood memory. Or your worst. In either case, there's a really good chance that it's total bullshit.

Memory is a funny thing. Research has consistently found that our memories from when we were kids are either extremely inaccurate, or didn't happen at all. They are just elaborate constructions of a memory storage system that isn't very good at distinguishing real memories from fake ones.

Are you positive this didn't happen?

So what if we told you that there was a way to do this on purpose? To hack your brain into believing (and "seeing" vividly) a completely made-up event that never actually happened?

Holy Shit! How Do I Do It?

The trick is you need somebody else to do it for you (or to you). But it takes very little effort, and no Total Recall-style brain-hacking machines.

Or torso mutants.

For instance, in a study in 1995 researchers sat down a group of people and mentioned four incidents from their childhood (gathered from family members) and asked subjects how well they remembered them. What they didn't mention was that one of the stories (a tale of them being lost in a specific shopping mall) was utter bullshit.

It didn't matter. Twenty percent came back with sudden memories of the event that, in reality, never happened. The sheer act of asking them if it did, caused them to manufacture the memory, filling in details on the fly.

Remember when Bruce Campbell was President?

Researchers knew they could up that 20 percent figure. In another test, an unsuspecting group of people who had visited Disneyland in the past were placed in a room with a cardboard cutout of Bugs Bunny and/or were shown fake ads for Disneyland featuring Bugs. Afterwards, 40 percent claimed they vividly remembered seeing a guy in a Bugs Bunny costume when they were at Disneyland. They didn't, of course (Bugs isn't a Disney character).

Another study took it a step further, and actually Photoshopped a picture of each subject riding in a hot air balloon. When asked if they recalled this non-event, 50 percent said they did. Other experiments successfully convinced people they had at one time nearly drowned, been hospitalized or been attacked by a wild animal.

How Does It Work?

Your brain kind of plays it fast and loose when it stores memories, and for good reason: Usually the details don't matter. You remember your best friend's phone number but don't remember exactly where and when he told you. You remember that you hate zucchini, but don't remember what day of the week you tried it. Your brain breaks up memories into a stew of general lessons learned and important stuff you'll need later.

The problem is that same process makes it very difficult to distinguish real memories from fake onessince the source of a memory is so often discarded in the stew. A fact you think you read in a newspaper might in reality have been read in a fictional novel, or heard from a friend, or dreamed, or implanted by somebody who's fucking with you.

So not only could somebody do this for you (though it would have to be set up so that you don't know where and when) but it seems like you could run a pretty successful business just implanting happy childhoods for people.

You know, like that time you found out you were adopted, and that your real parents were the Thundercats.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts