Brain: A Perfect Pattern Matching System

Did you ever wonder, how we recognize or understand certain things without being taught? For example, we knew that most of the object would move towards ground if you released it. This is perhaps even known before you learn what gravity was. It’s just a name for something that your brain learned itself, agree?

This is perhaps an interesting thing about our monster brain, an ability to automatically learn and recognize patterns.Our brains are natural pattern matching system. If we think for a while,we always in the processes to find a patterns in what we perceive, then fix with the new patterns and it gets stored in your memory. This happens automatically, without conscious effort. This chunk of information gets added every moment by observing, via experience or incidents.

If you recall that, as a small child wants to be held by mother, father or family members, we tried different approaches and learn which response produces the desired result. You continue to rely on this pattern if you would desired the result.

All such patterns get stored in memory database and it is used to determine to new or uncommon situations. That’s why the best way to find lost things or misplaced materials is to mentally walk through all of the places you have been recently, it makes quite easier to recall the much needed information.

It’s good to learn more accurate patterns, this gives more options when solving new problems.That’s why at times gray hair people are preferred for higher positions, it is expected that they have better and more accurate patterns via their experience.

I thank my parents for having bringing us independent via giving more responsibility, this at times has helped to respond to whatever life throws.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. We welcome your views and suggestion.Thank You for taking out time to read this article.

Change Reference Levels: Conflict

Have you observed that we all have a favorite character flaw: procrastination? We all procrastinate to a certain degree because of too many things to do or putting off tasks for later (not urgency). It’s quite true that one will focus on present need rather than the future one, right?

We are also aware of the fact that at times we have time to get something done in advance,because we just feel like not doing it right now. There is an inner call for asking us to do part now and part not. If inner call forces to work, you would feel distracted that not much gets done. On the contrary, part of you feels bad that you are not working, which also means you are not really resting.

It’s funnier to see that the entire day pass where you neither really work nor really rest, just feel exhausted from the effort of getting nothing done. Why does this happen?

This is can be termed as conflicts, this is commonly seen when two systems try to change the same perception. When you are procrastinating, one of your brain’s subsystem is trying to control that likes to getting things done, while another is trying to control getting enough rest.

This is similarly observed in a heater and an air conditioner. This is nothing but an inner conflicts, but this can also be observed among people as well. Think of two boys fighting over the same girl friend. As long as one boy has the girl friend, the other will be upset. A girl decision can also upset both the boys at times. Similar things are seen at corporate and corporate politics at its best.

The fact is that we can’t control the actions of another human being, only few things can be tried are influence, persuade, negotiate or inspire – change the reference levels.

Universal Truth: People are Lazy

We can admit that we are lazy and it’s universal truth. It’s one of the features of us, not a bug. My one of friend says, ‘I am conversing energy for a bad situation or much needed priority at times.’ Why does anyone need to converse energy? Unless a Reference Level (a minimum or maximum) is violated, people generally conserve energy by not acting on the situation. While I was at Holland (The Netherlands), my roommate and I shared different standards of cleanliness of house. To him dirtiness in the house is not fine and whereas for me dirty dishes in the sink is a problem. In my mind any dishes at all is “out of control,” and I washed them the moment any dish is seen (action). For my friend, the situation wasn’t out of control until the sink is overflowing, at which point he’ll expend some energy washing dishes. We get to see different actions for different reference levels.
This applies same for our health aspects (exercises and diet), social circle (social skills expansion) and money. I wondered at times, why people stayed in dead-end jobs for decades. The job wasn’t lucrative, little or no motivation and hardly any increments in position. After interviewing 1000 people it was found that, the work was just okay to be there, the employer took care of paying off some basic needs, the job was less stressful or frustrating, hardly violated the Reference level, in such case people didn’t take risk of changing job or promotions or start a new business.

A good example of need for new reference level is – Running a mile in under four minutes was considered beyond the limitations until Roger Bannister did it in 1954. By end of 1957, sixteen runners had accomplished the feat. This is one of the good examples to show that the only thing changed was the reference level. All we need to know is that something we want is possible, and we will find a way to get it to accomplish.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article; we welcome your views and comments. Have a great weekend!

Ancestors Syndrome

Let us imagine living 100,000 years ago with all senses working – walking through a thick green forest looking for food: such as fish, edible plants, or animals to catch. It was easier to find sometime, sometimes it was challenging to find food. At times took rest to conserve energy under a shade. At times there was threat from animals and ran for life. Once the search of food is over, you return to tribe to share food. You have right-knit group and everyone knows each other. Quite often in groups you went to hunt animals literally chased it to death, a technique called persistence hunting. All enjoyed the delicious meat cooked on fire by telling stories and discuss about the day until all drift to sleep. Tomorrow, you’ll do it all over again.

Perhaps this was done by our ancestors i.e., ‘Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors’ (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Our (human biology) is optimized for conditions that existed 100,000 years ago, unfortunately not for today’s world we live in today. Food can be found everywhere, predators are not. We are not in constant motion unlike our ancestors; instead we spend most of time occupied by sedentary activities, like sitting behind a desk at a computer or chatting over social networking or dreaming all the time. As a result, we face many new threats to our brains and bodies, like brain tumors, heart diseases and others.

Does it mean that our brain and body simply are not optimized for the modern world? A portion of the challenge of working in the modern world is that our brains and bodies are tuned for physical and social survival, not long 12 or more hour work-days. Evolution of business is not old for our biology to adapt to the new demands we are placing or enforcing many a times upon ourselves. Are we not built for this type of responsibility? It sounds like we are all running, demanding new software on ancient hardware.

War of Perception

This is in continuation to previous article ‘The Candle Problem’, research has made it clear that there’s far more behavior than the carrot and the stick. All said, this is still need to be put in practice at corporations and business school classrooms around the world, businessmen are in still in search of magic wand – incentive that will make people do exactly what businesses want.
According to Josh K, human behavior is much like a thermostat. A thermostat consists of – a sensor, a set point, and a switch. The function of sensor is to measure the temperature of the surrounding environment, if the temperature is within a given range, thermostat does nothing. If the temperature is below the set point, the switch turns the heater on and in case the temperature is above the set point, the switch turns the heater off. Josh continues to describe this relationship as Perceptual Control.

This behavior is seen in living organisms, they are complex perceptual control systems: we act in ways to keep our perceptions of the world within acceptable boundaries. To give few examples, first one: Students in school and colleges often act based on the acceptable boundaries of school authorities, being in time, pampering, dress code etc. Second example: While I was at Holland (The Netherlands), people asked me, ‘Why I am not wearing winter coat?’ for temperature of 16 degree Celsius. We don’t put on a coat or jacket because cold weather forces us to – we put on a jacket because we feel cold and we do not want to feel cold, right? Third example: The scorching heat makes to pull down the blinds on the windows, or use sunglasses – the action controls the perception, and this is depends on the environment we find ourselves in at the time.

This theory explains why the same stimuli often produce different responses. If an employer wants his hourly employee to work more, the employer should pay more overtime, do you agree? Unfortunately, that not necessarily true. If an employee is trying to control income i.e. someone needs more – will be open to work overtime, but what about employee’s they are making enough money or have set some other priorities that are perhaps more important than work? Example, a faculty teaching in a college likes to teach in tutorials in the vacations or off time. A few of such employee’s will work exactly the same amount of time, and some will actually work less. As some of the employee’s would like to reach that point quickly by raising overtime pay, so they will spend less time at work. The carrot and stick mechanisms (overtime incentives) will produce three different results, two of which are complete opposites – working more or working less. This is one of the strong example classic incentive of many employers – represents a fundamental shift in understanding why people do the things they do. One needs to understand that people act to control their perception; this will help one to be better equipped to influence how they act.

The Candle Problem: An Incentive Case

I need to make confession at the outset here that, little over 8 and 3 years ago I did something that I regret, something that I am not proud of, I wish no one would ever know but I feel obliged to reveal, I went to do engineering and work with wrong motivator. Perhaps I did well academically but I never practiced engineering in my life, pretty wasn’t allowed too. But today against my judgment, against the advice of few forced mentors, I want to dust off some of those engineering (Science) and business skills. Let me present you some interesting case for rethinking how we run our businesses.

The Candle Problem: It was created in 1945 by a psychologist Karl, his experiment is used in variety of experiment of behavioral science. This is how it works, suppose I bring you into the room. I give you candle, some matches and some thumbtacks. Your task is to attach the candle to the wall so the wax doesn’t drip to the table. How do you do this? [Think for a while]

Some of the options you might think are –
a. Thumb tack to the wall, doesn’t work.
b. Melt the side of the candle by light the match and try to adhere to the wall, perhaps great idea, doesn’t work.

The solution is keeping the candle on the tray and fixes the tray using thumb sticks to the wall. The key to this is to overcome ‘Functional Fixedness’.

Power of Incentives
Now let me tell you about an experiment done by the scientist Sam G using ‘The Candle Problem’ – It’s a great example of the power of incentives. Here is what he did, he gathered his participants and divided them into few groups, and he said to them, I am going to time you, how quickly can you solve this problem?

To one group he said, I’m going to time you to establish norms, averages for how long typically takes someone to solve this sort of problems. To the second group he offered rewards. If you are in the top 25 percent of the fastest times, you get $ 5 and in case you are the fastest of everyone we are testing here today, you get $ 20. Many of us might think it’s a nice motivator for a few minutes of job. It was found that the group that was supposed to be incentivized took three and half minutes longer. The general notions of businessmen is, you want to people to perform better, you reward them. Agree? Hikes, Bonuses, Travels, Commissions and others – that’s how business work?

Why that doesn’t happen in these experiments done over 40 years? You were asked to sharpen your thinking and accelerate creativity, and just opposite happened. Perhaps it dulls thinking and blocks creativity. This kind of contingent motivators – if you do this, then you get that, works in some circumstances. But unfortunately for large tasks they don’t work or, often, they do harm. This is one of the most robust findings in social science and often one of the most ignored. Last more than 10 years I have spent time looking into human motivation. ‘There is clear mismatch between what science knows and what business does.’ Unfortunately many people in business build the organizations around ‘Carrot & Sticks’. This might have been true for many jobs of 20th century. But for 21st century jobs the mechanistic, ‘Reward-Punishment’ approach doesn’t work and often does harm. Then, what does real work? Stay tuned to know more about it.

Thanks for joining us! We welcome your views, comments and suggestions.

What Color to Paint Your Home and Why?

It is interesting to learn the Psychology of Color. Lets look into some of them –

Blue: Most Productive Color

Yellow: Increases metabolism, brightness room, gives you energy

Green: Tranquility and Health

Lavender: Calms the nerves and allows relaxation
Pink: Clamming, Warm

Red:Encourages Appetite

Tip About Red Color: Studies shows that red can make you do poorly on exams! Red is hypothesized to impair performance on achievement tasks, because red is associated with danger of failure in achievement context and evokes avoidance motivation.

Yesterday and Today : Worry Free Days

There are two days in every week about which we shouldn’t worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is ‘Yesterday’ with all its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone forever.

The other day we should not worry is ‘Tomorrow’, with all its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and its poor performance; Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.

We are unsure if tomorrow’s sun will rise in splendor or being a mask of clouds, but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in Tomorrow, for it is yet to be born.

This leaves only one day, Today. Any person can fight the battle of just one day. It is when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities, Yesterday and Tomorrow, that we break down.

It is not the experience of Today that drives a person mad, it is the remorse or bitterness of something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring.

Let us, therefore, Live but one day at a time.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble – Matthew 6:34

Please share this with your friends, as I was shared this by a friend of us. God be with you all, Good day!

Amrita Foundation

A Great Story of Noble People

A Scottish poor farmer by name Fleming was striving hard to make a living for his family. One day he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog, he dropped his work and ran for the rescue.

A boy was stuck till his waist in black muck, screaming and struggling to free himself. A great attempt of farmer saved the lad from what could have been slow and terrifying death. The farmer asked his wife to give some cloth of his son and provide some warm food. The next day, Farmer Fleming left the child to his parents without waiting for a moment.

Next day someone knocked his door, an elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy.’I want to repay you,’ said the nobleman. ‘You saved my son’s life.’

‘No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,’ the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel.

‘Is that your son?’ the nobleman asked.

‘Yes,’ the farmer replied proudly.

‘I’ll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.’ And that he did.

Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.

Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia.

What saved his life this time? Penicillin.

The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill .. His son’s name?

Sir Winston Churchill

Someone once said: What goes around comes around.

Work like you don’t need the money.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching.
Sing like nobody’s listening.
Live like it’s Heaven on Earth.

Amrita Foundation salutes the noble people for their broad thinking. We hope this story has inspired you, inspire others by sharing with others. Good day!

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