Quirkology and chemobrain

March 21, 2010 at 11:21 am Leave a comment

I finished another book recently called Quirkology by Richard Wiseman.  What I liked about this book was that it examined really odd little things about people and the world.  Some of these experiments are twists on old ones, some are incredibly fresh.  I love to read stuff like this – it’s the secret psychologist in me.  His team re-enacted an older experiment to determine the six degrees of separation phenomena.  Many years ago, this letter experiment yielded that we are all within six people of each other (Kevin Bacon not included).  Having re-enacted the same experiment again, it seems that the world has actually shrunk, and we are within four people of each other.  There is so much talk that technology separates us and can be isolating, but this shows that technology (among other things) has helped to increase our connections.

When I thought of this experiment that I am barely doing any justice to explaining, it reminded me of cancer.  There are many commercials, pamphlets, public service announcements, etc. that always allude to everyone being touched by cancer. That we always know someone who has had it.  Well, now I really hear the message.  I think is similar to the economic conditions.  I hear the news tell me that all of us have been affected by the high unemployment and layoffs and that is true too.

Why do I share all of this, heck if I know.  Maybe to illustrate that sometimes, my mind is such a jumble.  It takes a lot of focus and concentration to make sure I am excelling at work and in school with no degradation, so that by the time I am with friends or at home, I am exhausted from trying not to be so ‘cancer-affected’. Because let me tell you, chemobrain is a real thing and has been researched as affecting those who are undergoing chemo. Thankfully, it’s a temporary side-effect! Here are just a few examples of what patients call chemo brain, or sometimes call brain fog:

  • forgetting things that they usually have no trouble recalling—memory lapses (I keep wanting to put the jelly in the pantry with the peanut butter)
  • trouble concentrating—they can’t focus on what they’re doing (I need more quiet when I do certain things so that I can concentrate better.  I sit near a wonderful guy at work but he sometimes interrupts to talk about random things and this can be devastating to things like reading/grading papers or building my classes in Blackboard as it takes me off task and is difficult to regain my focus of what I was doing prior. This was never a big problem for me before)
  • trouble remembering details like names, dates, and sometimes larger events
  • trouble multi-tasking, like answering the phone while cooking, without losing track of one of them—less ability to do more than one thing at a time (this is true right now – I don’t multi-task nearly as much as I used to do and actually find this better for me. I finish more things now with this more singular focus)
  • taking longer to finish things—slower thinking and processing (for me, it is the processing, it’s not as clear.  I notice this most when I am thinking, like now as I write, and then must translate this to the page.  Sometimes what I think comes out typed all wrong.  I was thinking nearly ‘as much’ but typed in ‘enough’ in the bold green part of the previous bullet. This, compounded the multitasking issue, is another reason why I don’t do it as much)
  • trouble remembering common words—can’t finish a sentence because you can’t find the right words

Isn’t the brain fun?  Well I think so. I enjoy reading books about the brain and the way it functions.  Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind is another excellent book about things like this and I highly recommend that one if you haven’t read it.  If you want to take a few simple tests about yourself (they take seconds), check out the Quirkology self-tests.


Entry filed under: Books, humor, Miscellania, research, thoughts, well-being, Who is?. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Have a nice day Hamster wheel

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