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Intelligent Memory

February 8, 2011

Conventional wisdom says that turning off our analytical, logical left brains and turning on our creative, intuitive right brains helps us come up with new ideas.

After all, Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his right/left brain theory.

But Eric Kandel also won the Nobel Prize – for research disproving Sperry’s theory. Kendal found that we don’t think with a two-sided brain. We use recall and learning, throughout our whole brain, as we exercise “intelligent memory.”

A strategy+business article explains,

“From the moment you’re born, your brain takes things in, breaks them down, and puts them on shelves.

As new information comes in, your brain does a search to see how it might fit with other information already stored in your memory. When it finds a match, the previous memories come off the shelf and combine with the new, and the result is a thought.

The breaking down and storing process is analysis. The searching and combining is intuition. Both are necessary for all kinds of thought. Even a mathematical calculation requires the intuition part, to recall the symbols and formula previously learned in order to apply them to the problem.

When the pieces come off the shelf smoothly, in familiar patterns … you don’t even realize it has happened. When lots of different pieces combine into a new pattern, you feel it as a flash of insight, the famous “aha!” moment.”

To mine “intelligent memory” when your team needs better ideas:

  • Together, define and describe your challenge.
  • Separately, everyone researches, “Has anyone else in the world ever made progress on any piece of this puzzle?”
  • Continue this treasure hunt, alternating work with relaxation to encourage the subconscious use of intuition.
  • Bring your ideas back to the team. Work together to highlight, experiment with and improve the best ones.

Here’s to your next “aha!”

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