The old joke about how a woman can’t have sex because she has a headache has some truth to it: our brains continually wage war within themselves over which thought?or impulse?will “win” and get our full attention and action. Creative people who want to use their intuitive, unconscious minds often write or paint while listening to music or even watching TV. This keeps the logical part of the brain occupied so the more creative part can do the work.

Bjorn Carey writes in that our brain regions are most likely to go into battle with one another when we’re trying to decide between two new, and potentially rewarding, options, especially when the brain has to override the desire for immediate reward in order to get a bigger one later. It’s one reason that children, whose brains are less developed, almost always go for the cookie now, rather than waiting to get a bigger reward later. Scientists tested this theory by letting volunteers use specially rigged gambling machines. Researcher Nathaniel Daw says, “You have logic pitted against these areas that are more associated with pleasure and value. Do you want to wait 10 minutes to eat two cookies or eat one cookie now?”

What about when we do something like leave the house without our keys? We think that we had a lapse in memory, but the truth is, our brains never forgot. The trick is to find the place in our brains where the memory is stored WHEN we need it?BEFORE we go out without the keys.

Carey writes: “Memory works mainly by association. For example, as you try to remember where you left your keys, you might recall you last had them in the living room, which reminds you that there was a commercial for soap on television, which reminds you that you need soap, and so on. And then, as you’re heading out the door to buy soap, you remember that your keys are on the kitchen counter. Your brain knew where the keys were all along, it just took a round-about way to get there.”

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And don’t forget your keys when you go out to buy dryer sheets!

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