How the Right (or Wrong) Questions Can Unleash Your Brain’s Potential

With Avengers: Age of Ultron coming out this week, I want to talk about one of the coolest things that every human being has without even knowing it: their own personal JARVIS. For those of you who haven’t seen Iron Man or The Avengers, JARVIS is Iron Man’s computerized assistant. Whenever Iron Man needs a question answered or quick analysis completed while he’s fighting evil villains, Iron Man simply asks JARVIS, and every time JARVIS will reply with a quickly calculated response. By the end of this article, you’ll realize you have your own JARVIS between your ears, and how to hack it to get the best results.

It turns out that our brain is really good at coming up with answers to questions. Its so good at it, in fact, that its constantly making connections between different pieces of information. Our brain is designed to make sense of the world around us, and what most people don’t realize is that you can harness this incredible power for good, or for evil. (dun dun duuuuuhn) Continue reading “How the Right (or Wrong) Questions Can Unleash Your Brain’s Potential”

Did I Really Just Finish My Master’s Degree on Time?!

Around this time last year, I was neck deep in some serious confusion, fear, and self-doubt. I was one year into a MSc degree in Neuroscience, and had a ton of work left to do. I seriously doubted if I would ever finish what I started, and I was even less convinced that I would complete the program within the two years that was encouraged by the University. I was told that it was pretty common for students to extend an extra semester or two, just to give yourself enough room to do a good job. Of course, most of the students in question didn’t have kids to distract them at home, nor did they have ADHD. I had both, so I was convinced I was doomed.

Around the same time last year, an amazing and unexpected thing happened to me. I was the winner of a scholarship that provided me with a year of ADHD coaching. Working one-on-one with a coach was an incredible experience, and I learned how to prioritize and schedule tasks. More importantly, I learned how to take care of myself, how to be nice to myself, and how to be self-aware. I learned that my ADHD didn’t need to define me, and that a good timeline can be the most valuable weapon in the face of a graduate committee.

So here I am today, and I have finished my Master’s degree. Best of all, I finished the greatest accomplishment of my life ON TIME. People with ADHD probably don’t realize how amazing that really is, but for someone who has a perpetual problem with lateness and time management that is a miracle. Pardon me while I bask in the glory of my own punctuality.

…Ahh…it feels so good.

Over the next few weeks I plan on blogging about some of my biggest lessons that I learned over the course of my graduate work. They will most likely be focused on issues that people with ADHD struggle with. However, they will most likely apply to anyone in the University setting. It will most like apply to anyone who has ever tried to stay organized, and failed. It will probably help anyone who has to be productive in their life. Who know, it might even help you.

For now, I want to leave you with one thing: Believe in your goals. They are absolutely possible. You just need the right plan, the right people, and the right perspective. When (not if, WHEN) you stumble, crash and burn, remind yourself that it’s okay. EVERYONE fails sometimes. If you were successful right away, how would you ever grow? How would you learn from your mistakes? How would you gain the perspective you’ll need to get you through the times ahead? Keep your head up, pick yourself off the ground, and learn from your mistakes. Most of all, keep moving toward your goals. They’re closer than you think.

Just Something I Wanted to Share

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and the one I listened to tonight hit me surprisingly hard. I’ll admit it; a manly tear was shed. I don’t want to give away the ending of this episode of This American Life, but I really think this is an important story for everyone to hear. Check out it.

This American Life 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

Sharing is Hard, but Super Important [Geek Dad Life Lessons]

Being a “Geek Dad” is a lot of fun, but it also has its fair share of challenges. My oldest son (aka “The Boy”) is three and a half, and beginning to reach the age where he enjoys a lot of the things that I find fun (although in a different way, of course). He loves superheroes, and so do I. I love Lego, and so does he. I like playing video games, and he likes them too. While you would think that having a geek-in-the-making is awesome, it also comes with a few unique challenges and lessons that I have had to face. The joy of nerdy parenting, I have found, is in embracing the experience and learning from it. NOTE: Spoilers for The Lego Movie ahead. If you haven’t seen it by now, however, you probably won’t care about the spoiler.

Continue reading “Sharing is Hard, but Super Important [Geek Dad Life Lessons]”

I Was Featured on Lethbridge Global News!

Last week I was featured on the local news about the Shire ADHD Scholarship. Check it out! 🙂 I was also featured on their website. I’ve been interviewed almost half a dozen times in the last couple of weeks, and its been kind of a whirlwind. I’m going to post something in the next few days about some of the lessons I’ve learned in the process. In the mean time, enjoy the video!

How I Used a Timer To Double My Productivity

This post is part of an ongoing series on issues relevant to individuals with ADHD. While it may be specifically directed ADHD issues, the topics discussed are applicable to everyone, including students, parents, writers, business people, and YOU!

A large part of my Neuroscience Masters thesis is based upon behavioural tests with rats. It might sound exciting, but in reality it represents watching rats doing the same task over and over again for days on end. It is, quite possibly, the most boring thing that I’ve ever had to do in my life. For someone with ADHD, that is an enormous roadblock on the path towards success. Someone without ADHD would probably be able to get through those clips in about a week of hard scoring (the term we use for collecting data from video footage), but it takes me much longer because I have a hard time sitting for a long period of time doing them. In fact, one of the worst parts of having ADHD is the procrastination. Doing important (even essential) things that you don’t want to do sucks.

Continue reading “How I Used a Timer To Double My Productivity”

My Life with ADHD

One of the few topics I really wanted to tackle when I started this blog was living life with attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (more commonly known as ADHD). If you don’t know what ADHD is, Wikipedia is your friend. In a nutshell, ADHD is a neuropsychological disorder that leaves you with three basic symptoms: hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. These three symptom groups manifest differently in different people, but I’ll give a quick rundown of what my symptoms are like on a bad day.

Continue reading “My Life with ADHD”

Update on Between Your Ears

BetweenYourEarsPodcast_CoverArt_Season1

Well, the end of April is tomorrow, and you’re probably noticing that Between Your Ears has not been reborn as the proverbial Phoenix that I had hoped.

Not yet…

I AM still planning on producing a web series that makes brain and behavioural science understandable, approachable, and interesting. However, I am still working out the details on the best way to do that. I am beginning to realize that the Between Your Ears Podcast in its current form is not designed to reach the largest possible audience, nor is it the best medium for an educational audience.

While listening to TED talks a week or so ago, I found an awesome talk by Tyler DeWitt that encouraged scientists to make their research exciting for younger audiences. If there is one thing that I hope to accomplish with my new series, its making neuroscience more exciting. (Take a second and watch the video below. Seriously, its awesome.)

That is why I have come to the conclusion that I am not going to rush this new web series. I am fairly confident, however, that it will most likely be a series of 3-5 minutes YouTube videos, and that they will take more of a curriculum approach to neuroscience.  Bit by bit, I could address different areas of the brain, different processes that the brain undertakes, different disorders that occur when things go wrong, etc. By doing this, my videos could TEACH about the brain in a simple way instead of just throwing random topics at people. I want to make it interesting and fun, and I really feel like this is the best way to do it.

So for those of you who were eagerly awaiting the next chapter of Between Your Ears, I’m sorry, but you’ll have to wait a little bit longer. My hope is that when this launches, it will be the very best content I can muster. When will it be released? All I can say for now is…

Soon(TM).

Depression Quest: Understand Mental Illness Through Interactive Fiction

As someone with a mental illness of my own (ADHD), I can really sympathize when people say “People don’t know what its like to have depression.” If your brain is healthy and working the way nature intended, it can be difficult to relate with a loved one who is acting irrationally. The stigma surrounding mental illness is pretty hard to deal with. We can’t see how the brain is wired differently, even though it is fairly similar to being born with webbed toes.

Enter Depression Quest: a new free-to-play interactive fiction that allows you to live the life of someone with depression. In the game, you essentially read a choose-your-own-adventure story, but depending on the severity of your depression, certain choices will be blocked off. Through the course of the game, you are given the opportunity to seek therapy and medication. There is no winning moment, but it will leave you with a greater understanding of depression. While its technically a game, don’t go in expecting to have fun. However, I really enjoyed it on a deep emotional level. Admittedly, I choked up during some of the few moments in the game the character was being loved and supported by his family.

I sincerely hope that everybody goes out and plays Depression Quest, because the world needs more understanding and compassion towards people suffering from mental illness. I am lucky enough to have an awesome support system to help me with my ADHD, but not everyone does.