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terry 12-11-2009 02:15 AM

Swim to Grow New Brain Cells
 
This is an excerpt from the in-development 2010 TI Coaches Manual. I will post certain excerpts here for review and critique by forum members, anticipating your feedback can help make the final document better. After reading, let us know what questions it may leave unanswered or further connections you believe can be made.
Thanks,
Terry

Training the Brain
In recent months the phrase “I swim to grow new brain cells” has become my mantra. I swim for many other reasons as well – for improvement, enjoyment, to age gracefully – but swimming to grow new brain cells as my fundamental motivation makes all my other valued outcomes far more likely.

This insight is the culmination of a lifetime of swimming and teaching, as well as the product of much reading and study. The more I learn about the brain and nervous system, the more I realize how critical such knowledge will be to keeping TI content and curriculum on the cutting edge and to providing our students with the best instruction and direction.

What brain cells do.
From the moment we walk on a pool deck (or beach) the 100 billion nerve cells in our brain, called neurons, control literally everything we do, experience or think while there. Are you excited about swimming? It’s because you’ve activated neurons in one region of the brain. Does it feel like an obligation or burden? Neurons in another region are “lighting up.” If something’s not quite right – crowded lanes, hot (or cold) water, pool shorter (15yd), or longer (50m) than you prefer, one group of neurons activates if you see that as an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone. If the situation discourages you, it’s another set of neurons. You “follow the black line” with one set of brain cells; devise clever tasks that ensure improvement with another set. And finally efficient strokes are produced by a precise set of neural signals. Ragged strokes come from different circuits.
The influence of “neurobiology” is not only complete, it’s tangible. When we understand that a turn-lemons-into-lemonade attitude reflects electrical activity in a specific region of the brain, rather than a chance aspect of personality, then we realize we’re capable of changing or improving literally any aspect of what makes us human. In the same way we make a conscious choice to activate neuromuscular circuits that tip the hand down, rather than scoop it up, on entry, we can choose to create thinking habits that lead to Kaizen behaviors and ultimately to mastery. This is the most empowering concept I have ever encountered in swimming—indeed in life!

With this knowledge, every TI student can assert the power to choose what kind of swimmer they will be and how much health and happiness it will bring. This isn’t just an inspiring and empowering idea; it’s supported by far better science than the traditional technique and training theories which govern how the non-TI world teaches and practices swimming. Our mission is to spread this inspiring new paradigm and to become the acknowledged experts on how to grow new brain cells through swimming.

Learning to think differently
A focus on growing brain cells in all aspects of swimming and teaching (or anything else) will inform how you interpret or explain, how you plan, teach and practice. I answer swimmers’ questions differently–and with greater continuity and consistency--now than I did several months ago.
As active, athletic people, and as coaches, we’ve been conditioned to think about swim training and performance in physiological terms. In coming months, you will learn to observe and interpret through a neural “lens” and to interpret the physiological aspects of swimming from a neural perspective first. Here are the advantages I see for viewing swimming as a form of neural-cell development.
1. Get better with age. Physiological capacity declines with age. The capacity to create new brain cells can remain as strong as ever. In fact, many key aspects of our neural control of swimming should improve with age and experience--for instance the ability to maintain focus, or to discern limb positions or muscle-loading levels, or other key aspects of self-awareness.
2. Grow more and better brain cells. We grow brain cells while running or cycling or any physical activity. But we grow more brain cells, and forge more robust and complex connections between them, while practicing swimming. This is because humans aren’t “ancestrally wired” for swimming and even basic efficiency requires far more thoughtful and examined practice. We can make a strong case that improvement-minded swimming is the ideal activity to promote both a healthy brain and healthy body.
3. The brain learns differently. Prevailing methods for building endurance and speed are based on understanding of how the body adapts physiologically to work. But the brain masters new tasks and develops new circuits in a very different way than how the body responds to physical work. Our methods will be based on understanding how the brain, rather than heart and lungs, operates.
4. Get the best of both. We will develop and strengthen neural circuits with physical tasks, performed thoughtfully. While the brain converts perceptions and intentions into actions, the muscles and cardiovascular system still perform the physical work–which means physical conditioning happens. However, the metabolic adaptations that occur, while we focus on motor programming, are specific to the task we are seeking to master, rather than imprecise and haphazard as when we “train energy systems.”
5. The brain is the master. Without an operating system and other software, a computer is just a collection of electronic parts. Without the brain and nervous system, the body is just blood, bone and meat. The actions of every limb, muscle, organ and capillary are governed by instructions from the brain. When you focus on programming the brain, you increase your control of outcomes. When you focus on training body parts—without primary consideration of the role of the brain—you get random and unpredictable outcomes.

shuumai 12-11-2009 01:31 PM

Excellent. Do you cite any references? I know they exist because I've done some reading on the topic.

I hate to say this, but take comfort in the fact that I have developed a few gray hairs myself... As people age and become less active for whatever reason, their brains physically shrink. Older, inactive people could benefit just from starting a walking routine. That will grow some neurons. However, use-it-or-lose-it still applies to the new neurons. So either the physical exercise needs to challenge your brain to form new connections, or you need to go and learn sudoku or something while your brain is primed for learning.

Here is some support for my claims: http://biomed.gerontologyjournals.or...act/61/11/1166

I love the fact that we can change our own biology.

Rhoda 12-11-2009 03:11 PM

Last spring I was reading a book called "The Brain That Changes Itself", by Norman Dodge M.D.. It's mostly about revolutionary techniques being used to rehabilitate stroke and brain-damage patients, but much of the neuroplasticity advice could apply to the rest of us in everyday life, especially when learning something like swimming.
I experienced a little of this neuroplasticity when I developed nerve problems shortly after making the switch from manual to CAD drafting back in the mid-90s. After having to learn to work left-handed, I discovered that other activities (using a screw-driver etc.) became easier with the left hand as well.

terry 12-11-2009 03:49 PM

Shuumai
Thanks for that outstanding input. You've added an important justification to strengthen the case for brain-training. Indeed I've noticed among my own, and my wife's, aging relatives a decrease in mental acuity. I've wondered the extent to which that reflects the natural aging process vs. a lessening of engagement on their part.
Less engagement means not just engaging with fewer people, but the result of taking on less challenging tasks.
In recent years, there has been exciting study into the phenomenon of how physical activity stimulates the brain which strongly suggests that exercise is the best way to stay healthy, alert and happy. It is now well documented that moving muscles produces proteins that play roles in our highest thought processes.

Dr. John Ratey, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, writes the following in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain :
“We all know that exercise makes us feel better, but most of us have no idea why. We assume it’s because we’re burning off stress or reducing muscle tension or boosting endorphins, and we leave it at that.
But the real reason we feel so good when we get our blood pumping is that it makes the brain function at its best, and in my view, this benefit of physical activity is far more important—and fascinating—than what it does for the body.
Building muscles and conditioning the heart and lungs are essentially side effects. I often tell my patients that the point of exercise is to build and condition the brain.”

Taking that a step further, I would assert that not all exercise is created equal in the service of growing brain cells. No disrespect to running and cycling, but you can do either without much mental engagement. On a long ride I'm far more likely to "bliss out" on the beautiful scenery around New Paltz than to focus on my position or pedaling technique. I seldom run anymore, but when I did I was more inclined to zone out than to focus on posture, stride etc. Even after learning ChiRunning and their focal points my experience was that 5 minutes of attention to the key points brought a dramatic improvement in my experience of running. I wasn't sufficiently motivated to pursue more. As well, the natural beauty around me probably increased the production of endorphins, but may well have reduced the production of proteins associated with engaged exercise.

Swimming is another matter entirely. It does require rigorous, exacting and highly-targeted attention to achieve even entry-level economy and comfort. The demands on your mental stamina never lessen. Advanced skills require just as much - perhaps more -focus. The reward is that such focus brings such a striking improvement in the quality of your experience -- not just your speed, but the mojo -- that it renews your motivation to keep that level of focus.

Then there's fact that the environment in which we swim is much more sensorily-narrow than that in which we run or bike. I may occasionally note the beauty of the passing shoreline while swimming in Lake Awosting, but I typically notice it for a nanosecond while breathing, then spend minutes focused on my stroke. This sensory deprivation -- as well as the fact that it disallows social interaction (you can't chat with swimming companions as you can with a running or cycling group) is usually thought of as a negative aspect of swimming. But if you're looking to the value of brain-protein production, it's unequivocally beneficial to have that narrowing of focus.

Experiencing the rewards of "moving meditation" in swimming has raised the bar for me on what I expect from sports generally. The right kind of focus, leading to improvement in form, in swimming has produced "swimming epiphanies" that are literally thrilling in how much better my stroke feels.

As a result, in recent years I've found it harder to motivate myself to do activities that simply can't produce moments such as that. Cycling and running just don't make the cut - though I still enjoy the combination of aerobic buzz and natural beauty in cycling. On the other hand, the freestyle method of x-c skiing -- especially on an uphill -- and to a somewhat lesser extent sculling do. Like swimming, both are aerobic, rhythmic and exacting in their requirement for skill. Thus both produce both thrilling moments and powerful and sustained flow states that are truly addictive. They also put you in a soul-sustaining environment.

There's only one activity I can think of which takes that combination to a yet-higher level: Open Water Swimming. It offers a far wider and more challenging range of problems to solve, and the ability -- when you get into a "massive zone" -- to continue in your flow state for hundreds or thousands of strokes, uninterrupted by a wall. And then there's the natural environment.

I nominate OW Swimming as the best activity for growing brain cells while also promoting CV health.

shuumai 12-11-2009 03:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rhoda (Post 7645)
Last spring I was reading a book called "The Brain That Changes Itself", by Norman Dodge M.D.. It's mostly about revolutionary techniques being used to rehabilitate stroke and brain-damage patients, but much of the neuroplasticity advice could apply to the rest of us in everyday life, especially when learning something like swimming.

Thank you for mentioning that book. I'm going out to get it from my local library today. I've been scouring information to help my father and that book sounds like a good source. (He has trouble with walking and handwriting due to some undiagnosed neurodegeneration.) I really want to get him into a pool, but that isn't likely to happen. That's a shame since the pool would challenge his systems in a good and gentle way while maybe providing a greater sense of ease and freedom.

Apparently the mindfulness and thoughtfulness of the TI way can lead to better living. ^_-

shuumai 12-11-2009 04:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 7646)
...

The "..." meaning all of what you just wrote. Wow. I found your comment about my comment more engaging than the original material in your RFC (request for comment). That might be because I've been reading about the topic in general for months, so my interested might have trailed off as I read. Or maybe because your comment was more personal. The comment just connected with me more. It flowed like it was...in the zone. hehe

Grant 12-11-2009 04:24 PM

Thanks for the two posts this morning Terry. They are very enlightening and provide more examples of how you keep TI fresh and new and have been doing so for a long time.
At age 74 I have benefited from many of the aspects you speak of. In the happiness/mental field and of course the swimming field . The last year I have noticed some slippage in my mental accuity and thank my lucky stars that I have stayed active and the resulting sliipage has been minimized. All the same the slippage is disconcerting so it is serendipitus that you bring this subject to our attention and it gives me a gentle kick in the butt to play harder (as in pay attention) with these ideas.

shuumai 12-11-2009 08:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 7646)
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

I saw that book at the library a few books over from Rhoda's book! Very interesting shelf! I only picked up one book, but I wanted to take about six of them. (The "Spark" book would be good for myself, but like I mentioned, I'm reading with my father in mind.)

shuumai 12-11-2009 08:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Grant (Post 7649)
At age 74 I have benefited from many of the aspects you speak of. In the happiness/mental field and of course the swimming field . The last year I have noticed some slippage in my mental accuity and thank my lucky stars that I have stayed active and the resulting sliipage has been minimized. All the same the slippage is disconcerting so it is serendipitus that you bring this subject to our attention and it gives me a gentle kick in the butt to play harder (as in pay attention) with these ideas.

Try table tennis. ^_- Dr. Amen says it's the best sport for the brain. I'd throw in a few carefully selected supplements as well.

dwag4life 12-11-2009 09:06 PM

Terry,

Thanks so much for such an interesting post. Although I don't have the exact quote or research in front of me, another angle to go with training the brain is to talk about sustained exercise that requires concentration and ADHD. Having been diagnosed with adult ADHD at the age of 33 about a year ago I read as much as I could and there is a strong argument for cardiovascular exercise and its effects on ADHD. It is equivalent to taking Ritalin and Prozak. Coming from running into swimming, I can second your view that swimming requires much more concentration. I generally swim early in the morning unmedicated and it is an excellent way to try and maintain focus, especially on longer swims.

Thanks,
Brogan

shuumai 12-11-2009 09:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dwag4life (Post 7660)
Terry,

Thanks so much for such an interesting post. Although I don't have the exact quote or research in front of me, another angle to go with training the brain is to talk about sustained exercise that requires concentration and ADHD. Having been diagnosed with adult ADHD at the age of 33 about a year ago I read as much as I could and there is a strong argument for cardiovascular exercise and its effects on ADHD. It is equivalent to taking Ritalin and Prozak. Coming from running into swimming, I can second your view that swimming requires much more concentration. I generally swim early in the morning unmedicated and it is an excellent way to try and maintain focus, especially on longer swims.

I'm not a health professional, but I'd also suggest reading about an amino acid called L-tyrosine. I don't have ADHD that I know of, but I found it while researching natural treatments for ADHD. I tested it and got good results for myself. When I take tyrosine, it seems that I don't talk endlessly and annoy my wife or argue with her as much--usually over talking too much or "swimming" in the living room! haha

(I use the 500mg VitaminShoppe brand of tyrosine. Hmm... I didn't know it had so much B6 in it as well. No matter.)

terry 12-11-2009 09:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dwag4life (Post 7660)
another angle to go with training the brain is to talk about sustained exercise that requires concentration and ADHD.

I've not been formally diagnosed, but at 58 I'm pretty sure I've got ADD. That may have something to do with why I love mindful swimming. It feels grounding and is always a source of creative inspiration.

terry 12-11-2009 09:22 PM

Shuumai Thanks for the tip on tyrosine. I'll give it a try.

shuumai 12-11-2009 09:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 7666)
Shuumai Thanks for the tip on tyrosine. I'll give it a try.

Well, the tip was to read about it first! But, yeah, it's safe to just give it a go.

Maybe this will make ADD people feel a little better. To paraphrase Dr. Kabat-Zinn, compared to experienced meditators, everyone has ADD! Maybe it doesn't apply to mindful swimmers?

shuumai 12-12-2009 12:25 AM

The Plastic Paradox
 
Old habits getting in the way?

Here's a quote from the preface of "The Brain that Changes Itself":

"While the human brain has apparently underestimated itself, neuroplasticity isn't all good news; it renders our brains not only more resourceful but also more vulnerable to outside influences. Neuroplasticity has the power to produce more flexible but also more rigid behaviours--a phenomenon I call 'the plastic paradox.' Ironically, some of our most stubborn habits and disorders are products of our plasticity. Once a particular plastic change occurs in the brain and becomes well established, it can prevent other changes from occurring. It is by understanding both the positive and negative effects of plasticity that we can truly understand the extent of human possibilities."

HandsHeal 12-12-2009 03:53 AM

Forumers Say...
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 7665)
...pretty sure I've got ADD.

yeah...? well, Terry ...these TI Forums reveal an undebatable diagnosis - you do have a form of ADD. Admirable Disciplined Director!

Taking the liberty, on behalf of all of us forumers - Thank You!

Happy Strokes,
HandsHeal

terry 12-12-2009 12:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shuumai (Post 7673)
"Once a particular plastic change occurs in the brain and becomes well established, it can prevent other changes from occurring. "

Interesting take on this. I would have been more inclined to see this as a manifestation of synaptic strength, than plasticity.
As I have understood it, synaptic strength is the quality that makes a new skill increasingly resistant to breakdown. Plasticity is the quality that allows skills - or behaviors - to be refined or adapted.

Rigid attitudes or behaviors are another matter. Not movement or skill oriented. We can anticipate what a psychologist would say about that. Not sure how a neurobiologist would interpret or explain it.

In the event, consideration of the role of the brain in all aspects of our swimming has made what was always intensely fascinating for me, even more so.

dwag4life 12-12-2009 01:36 PM

Shuumai,

Thanks for the tip! And for the nice mental image, haha. Also this is an interesting article, even though it's cycling, about a young man who was able to completely eliminate taking medication for his ADHD through cycling. It also explains the science of what exercise can do for the brain as well.

http://www.bicycling.com/article/0,6...1050-2,00.html

shuumai 12-12-2009 02:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dwag4life (Post 7681)
Shuumai,

Thanks for the tip! And for the nice mental image, haha. Also this is an interesting article, even though it's cycling, about a young man who was able to completely eliminate taking medication for his ADHD through cycling. It also explains the science of what exercise can do for the brain as well.

http://www.bicycling.com/article/0,6...1050-2,00.html

Brilliant article. According to the article, cycling, swimming, and running are the best sports for ADHD people. I'm curious about what happens to ADHD tri-athletes after they "retire."

"And it's not just any exercise. Some activities are better brain boosters, and cycling is one of the best. David Conant-Norville, MD, a psychiatrist in Beaverton, Oregon, who specializes in adolescents and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, recently surveyed his colleagues about the best and worst sports for athletes with ADHD. Cycling, swimming and running are tops. At the bottom are soccer, hockey and baseball. The best sports demanded constant physical exertion and a suite of technical movements that engaged brain functions dealing with balance, timing, error correction, decision-making and focus."

terry 12-12-2009 03:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shuumai (Post 7684)
"And it's not just any exercise. Some activities are better brain boosters, and cycling is one of the best. David Conant-Norville, MD, a psychiatrist in Beaverton, Oregon, who specializes in adolescents and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, recently surveyed his colleagues about the best and worst sports for athletes with ADHD. Cycling, swimming and running are tops. At the bottom are soccer, hockey and baseball. The best sports demanded constant physical exertion and a suite of technical movements that engaged brain functions dealing with balance, timing, error correction, decision-making and focus."

Am I reading this right? It seems to me that soccer and hockey require far more in balance, timing, error-correction, making lightning fast adjustments and decisions, and focus than running or cycling.

Just think of the thousands of unpredictable situations that may arise as a soccer player dribbles up the field or a hockey player brings the puck up the ice, with defenders swooping in to intercept him or her from any angle at any time and 5 of 9 teammates (excluding the goalie) moving in other directions to create position and movement patterns that change bewilderingly every second. Does it not make sense that this would require far more brain processing power than running or cycling?

I can't make sense of Dr. Conant-Norville's quote . . . except for the swimming reference of course.

shuumai 12-12-2009 04:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 7692)
Am I reading this right? It seems to me that soccer and hockey require far more in balance, timing, error-correction, making lightning fast adjustments and decisions, and focus than running or cycling.

Just think of the thousands of unpredictable situations that may arise as a soccer player dribbles up the field or a hockey player brings the puck up the ice, with defenders swooping in to intercept him or her from any angle at any time and 5 of 9 teammates (excluding the goalie) moving in other directions to create position and movement patterns that change bewilderingly every second. Does it not make sense that this would require far more brain processing power than running or cycling?

I can't make sense of Dr. Conant-Norville's quote . . . except for the swimming reference of course.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that in ball-oriented sports, only one person at a time is handling the ball. When you are not handling the ball you could just stand still and wait. And it isn't as constant. I don't know really. Maybe it's the "gallows focus"?

"There's another aspect to it as well. Call it gallows focus. 'The prospect of the gallows doth wonderfully concentrate the mind,' Samuel Johnson once famously wrote, and something similar can be said for exercise that involves a touch of risk. Let your attention drift in the peloton, and you might crash into the rider in front of you. Distraction in the dojo is rewarded with a painful body blow. By contrast, a soccer player who loses his concentration is just a guy standing in a field of grass."

Rhoda 12-12-2009 09:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shuumai (Post 7684)
Brilliant article. According to the article, cycling, swimming, and running are the best sports for ADHD people. I'm curious about what happens to ADHD tri-athletes after they "retire."

I think the type of people who take up triathlon are likely to stay active in at least one of the activities, even if they no longer compete.
Interesting that the turn of the discussion has led to ADHD. Some years ago one of my sister-in-laws suggested that I might be inclined this way since I couldn't filter out the background noise of a radio when trying to listen to someone talking to me. I was a bit miffed at the time, but the description of ADHD girls - spacey, day-dreamy, short attention span - describes me as a kid.
In the last 4-5 years I've found myself with increasingly better concentration and mental clarity. Could it be the T.I.? Could it be the reason that T.I. works for people who have found traditional swim instruction frustrating? It would be interesting to take two groups of people, both diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, and put one through traditional swim instruction and the other through T.I. coaching over a two year period, testing them at various points in time to see if they've improved their attention span or not.

shuumai 12-13-2009 12:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rhoda (Post 7705)
In the last 4-5 years I've found myself with increasingly better concentration and mental clarity. Could it be the T.I.?

Maybe. Looking at it the "traditional" way maybe your brain or body chemistry changed as the years have gone by. (I'm not implying that you have that many years behind you!) One change might lead to sleeping less, such as lower levels of melatonin. Another change might lead to a better ability to filter out extraneous noise. I don't know what would do that though.

Don't kick me for thinking it, but is it possible...well...what if your hearing has changed a little?

(My wife enjoys playing the radio loud in her car. If my son or I watch a movie a little loud or play a game, she can't stand the noise! What's up with that?! Oh...I guess in one case she is joyfully focused on her noise, but when it's our noise, she can't or won't just filter it out. Then things really get noisy as she yells at us to turn down the volume. Ugh...)

Rhoda 12-13-2009 01:01 PM

My hearing is fine. The only thing that has changed chemistry-wise, is that I've gone through menopause. I usually hear about the opposite for "the change", that it can lead to a foggy, unfocused feeling. I'm experiencing the opposite.

Mike from NS 12-13-2009 02:37 PM

wishing you milder weather
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Rhoda (Post 7721)
My hearing is fine.

Rhoda, from what I've seen of the temperatures out west, you're lucky any of your senses are fine. Edmonton was the coldest location on the planet yesterday !!! (and I imagine Calgary was very close - have you moved yet?) Not a claim to fame any of us would like to experience. Those temperatures could freeze more than brain cells.

Think warm thoughts!!

Mike

haschu33 12-14-2009 12:10 PM

Quite a thread here, sort of overwhelming...

In general I don't disagree with the the ideas presented here, specially that focus on brain activity, and I think it is a modern and 'state-of-the-art' approach. So I'am strongly encouraging and welcoming this approach. Still, there are some details and some general notions where I'd like to comment on. And of course these comments I am doing represent a very personal and subjective view, I am not claiming the ownership of any general 'truth' or wisdom.


- The Brain
Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 7631)
Training the Brain
In recent months the phrase “I swim to grow new brain cells” has become my mantra. I swim for many other reasons as well – for improvement, enjoyment, to age gracefully – but swimming to grow new brain cells as my fundamental motivation makes all my other valued outcomes far more likely.

I regard the body/brain systems as one entity, not separate ones, and I like to refer to that as the 'body'.
I think that we encounter a dilemma here that is typical for the modern-western approach: we are quite good in the observation, study and analysis of physical phenomena. The brain research develops very well in the physical processes in the brain. But then at some point we interpret what happens, and we add mental aspects. And at that point we run into difficulties: we are unable to clearly distinct what is what and where is the location of every distinct parts.
Example: Someone commits suicide. The body or brain/body system will very vitally do everything to prevent any damage to the body. It reacts with alarm, panic etc on dangerous situations and tries to protect 'us' (or itself). Some of these processes run beyond our control. Still, we can convince the body to commit suicide, although this clearly will be the end of it's very purpose and function. How is that possible?
There must be a controlling entity behind the brain/body system. We could call it the mind.
In the physical examination we can see activity in brain areas, and from experiment we can associate those activities with thinking, emotions etc. But actually we see the physical representation of a mental process. Where do we find our motivation in the brain? Our intention, our will, our decisions, where is the source of thoughts, of emotions ? When someone swims with the intention of pulling him- or herself through the water with the catching arm, and another one uses a picture of catching and moving the body past that arm - where do we find those different pictures and visualizations? Who creates them? A random process in the brain ?
We inevitably run into a phenomena called the mind, and that is where we get confused: we don't really know anything about it. We refer to it as thoughts and emotions, but we are unable to see whether what we see is just an appearance or the root of it, we have no sense of it's shape, location and no real understanding of it's functioning. All we know it must be there, somehow.
We could put it this way:
Quote:

5. The brain is the master. Without an operating system and other software, a computer is just a collection of electronic parts.
Who then, is the programmer?

Combined with this:
Quote:

... then we realize we’re capable of changing or improving literally any aspect of what makes us human.
that question becomes even more evident.
I think there is a framework, the human condition. Means we are born, we will die, we want to be happy, and we do not want to suffer. This I would call the condition where the (possible) change of our human aspects are bound within. And not only a human condition, we do share these conditions with all other beings and creatures on this planet and there is no basis for looking down on them.

For me this means:
I am not primarily interested in developing my brain, I am primarily interested in developing my mind. For me this is the source of all, and everything else has no choice but to follow. I develop my mind when I train in keeping a focus and attention, the brain will develop circuits along with it.
Maybe we talk about the same thing here - just different words. Maybe. Maybe not.


- brain circuits
Quote:

And finally efficient strokes are produced by a precise set of neural signals. Ragged strokes come from different circuits.
Yes, agreement.
Quote:

When you focus on programming the brain, you increase your control of outcomes. When you focus on training body parts—without primary consideration of the role of the brain—you get random and unpredictable outcomes.
Why random and unpredictable outcome? There is no training of body parts that does not involve the brain, just refer to this:
Quote:

What brain cells do.
From the moment we walk on a pool deck (or beach) the 100 billion nerve cells in our brain, called neurons, control literally everything we do, experience or think while there.
I wouldn't elaborate too much a viewpoint, that leads in 'doing TI is more valuable for the brain than doing something else'. That would be a tough viewpoint, and it will offer a nice point of attack for people who want to think that TI is something like a religion.


- What a question
Quote:

When we understand that a turn-lemons-into-lemonade attitude reflects electrical activity in a specific region of the brain, rather than a chance aspect of personality, then we realize we’re capable of changing or improving literally any aspect of what makes us human.
You seem to have a talent to step on the real big subjects! Probably derives from your keen sense of observation. (I really like that).
In other words there are collections of activities in some brain areas which we refer to as 'I'. As they can be changed these notions of 'I' can be changed.
So, what is the personality then? Does it exist ?

I just want to point out that this statement has some consequences. And the fact that if your wife reads this, she might just give you a dry "change it, darling!" when she next time comes across one of the little mannerism that we pick up during our life (as husbands (same as wives) ) and that often becomes the source of these ridiculous but nevertheless fierce quarreling we encounter in long-term relationships that moved from romanticism to a more sober kitchen-sink level, is a more harmless example but still might leave you speech- and argument-less. Not even the last refuge - 'it's just a habit' - can save you :-))
But it might create some strong reactions in different people.
While a Christian might be offended and accuses you of undermining the authority of God, a Buddhist might congratulate you and remark that finally science is moving towards viewpoints that already have been pointed out 2500 years ago on a spiritual level.
So, actually: right on! But not without consequences.
Such a nice, innocent statement...

ADD - ADHC
Are you talking about Attention Deficit Disorder - Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ??
Well, my experience is that this gets better with age, not worse. And particularly Terry - I assume you are joking ? You are training your focus and attention anyway, there shouldn't be a problem.
And apart from possible physical causes it has a lot today with the simple habit of being constantly distracted. And habits can be changed. Just drill something different.

[u] - Plasticity[/]
Quote:

Originally Posted by shuumai (Post 7673)
Old habits getting in the way?

"...Once a particular plastic change occurs in the brain and becomes well established, it can prevent other changes from occurring. It is by understanding both the positive and negative effects of plasticity that we can truly understand the extent of human possibilities."

Interesting. I think this is a little silly. Plasticity is the fact that we can change our brain, but preventing other changes is not due to plasticity but due to the fact that habits are formed (myelin). And habits are a means for the brain to save energy, which is important as the brain is very energy consuming. Plasticity actually is the possibility to change even a habit. So I cannot see the negative news in plasticity. Plasticity is hope and might be the equivalent to what others call 'liberation' or 'enlightenment'.


So, in general I like this discussion and this direction very much. Quite unusual for a swimming forum, of course :-).

I just think it is good to watch out for not getting carried away too far.
And always back it up. You never know what you stir up in people.

FrankJ 12-14-2009 12:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by haschu33 (Post 7754)

Interesting. I think this is a little silly. Plasticity is the fact that we can change our brain, but preventing other changes is not due to plasticity but due to the fact that habits are formed (myelin). .

Not sure... to my knowledge, there is limited evidence that myelination is directly related to habit formation or motor learning. Only very recently, brain imaging studies have shown changes in white matter associated with learning a task, but it is not clear whether this reflects myelination. The idea that myelin deposition might affect cognition is speculative (although interesting and plausible, in my opinion). Plasticity refers to changes in the connections between neurons, it is likely that one of the ways behaviors are consolidated and become 'habits' is through strengthening and weakening of specific connections between nerve cells.

Rhoda 12-15-2009 01:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by haschu33 (Post 7754)
...u]ADD - ADHC[/u]
Are you talking about Attention Deficit Disorder - Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ??
Well, my experience is that this gets better with age, not worse. And particularly Terry - I assume you are joking ? You are training your focus and attention anyway, there shouldn't be a problem.
And apart from possible physical causes it has a lot today with the simple habit of being constantly distracted. And habits can be changed. Just drill something different...

Can't speak for anyone else, but ADD/ADHD runs in my family, which is how my sister-in-law spotted it in me. It could be pure coincidence that I'm finding better focus and concentration in the five years since I started T.I., but I don't think so. I had trouble concentrating on the drills for more than 25 minutes at a time at first, and would leave the pool mentally - but not physically - drained and tired. I've noticed improved focus in other aspects of my life as well.

shuumai 12-19-2009 12:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rhoda (Post 7787)
Can't speak for anyone else, but ADD/ADHD runs in my family, which is how my sister-in-law spotted it in me. It could be pure coincidence that I'm finding better focus and concentration in the five years since I started T.I., but I don't think so. I had trouble concentrating on the drills for more than 25 minutes at a time at first, and would leave the pool mentally - but not physically - drained and tired. I've noticed improved focus in other aspects of my life as well.

Maybe try this ADHD test. Either answer for your current self or your past self. http://www.amenclinics.com/tests/add_test_1.html

Amber1 07-15-2016 09:34 AM

swim to grow new brain cells
 
I have always thought that it is impossible to get new brain cells, that the process of their renewal is impossible biologically. http://bigessaywriter.com/blog/20-bo...our-motivation is the place where I found out about books on motivation.

Zenturtle 07-22-2016 01:37 PM

Swimming always fogs up my goggles, but defogs my brain.

Ken B 07-23-2016 01:24 AM

fog
 
ZT I've discovered that a squirt and rinse of the wash foam in the changing shed keeps my goggles clear for a whole swim. I've used the same goggles for two seasons, no problem.

lloyddinma 08-22-2016 05:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Amber1 (Post 59915)
I have always thought that it is impossible to get new brain cells, that the process of their renewal is impossible biologically. http://bigessaywriter.com/blog/20-bo...our-motivation is the place where I found out about books on motivation.

Boy, I have been so hardwired to go to the freestyle forum. I will be coming here more often.


The last I followed the subject, there was no verified neurogenesis in the prefrontal cortex. Just around, the mid and rear end (brain stem). As you know different areas of the brain serve different functions. But I still think it is possible.

However, I am not sold on the notion that ADD is a disorder. Some vocations necessitate individuals who have it such as high-level personal assistants and executives who need to switch from subject to subject. The human brain has gone through evolution to facilitate technology. Every activity modifies the brain. And then there is epigemetic which is a whole subject altogether.

Besides with all of technology which re-wires the brain, the average person today has a relatively shorter attention span to someone 30 years ago.

When it comes to the assertion that some exercises are better at generating neurons than others, I tend to think it is the level of mindfulness those exercises require.

Indeed, I feel if you don't swim mindfully, you won't build much or any neurons. Chances are that the subjects in these very beneficial researches were mindfull swimmers.


The ultimate panacea I have settled, on is simply to be childlike in everything one does. This has myriad ramifications that touch every base: health, performance, intelligence etc.


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