Lecture Two and the Unbearable Sluggishness of Sleep Deprivation

fter a long and nice weekend on a cottage with good friends, you’re filled with love and happiness, but usually this comes at the cost of hours slept. And if there is one thing I hate, it is doing something tired. The last thing you want to do on a Sunday evening, is spend it on a homework exercise.

Motivation zero, everything is sluggish, brain doesn’t work. Horrible. But also interesting: why do I force myself on this? Why the hell do I do something that isn’t at all pleasurable for me? And in fact, it doesn’t even yield any noticeable benefit. The incentive is small. This is something I think humans are very different from animals: we do a lot of stuff we don’t care about at all. For absolutely no apparent reason. Why?

At the same time this week I was reminded once again, how similar we are to animals when I went to visit Heureka. Its fascinating exhibition “Body Worlds”, showed us how animal bodies work. It is incredible what different animals can do with their bodies. How wondrous the variability is, how ingenious the adaptation to different living conditions is. Though, we are without a doubt the most adaptable animal on this planet. And this largely due to our brain, and not because of our bodies.

But then I started to wonder: how much do we actually think with our bodies? There are some very interesting hints. The cerebellum, which was supposed to only coordinate the fine motor movements, is actually largely reliable for higher cognitive functions too. Gut bacteria seems to have direct effect on your personality and mental health. And most of the serotonin receptors are located in the gut – not in the brain.

And this is why Tuesdays exercise sessions was so brilliant. Building the brain with play dough! Now this is what I call learning! Doing something with both your brain, and your body. The dream team. Literally, because they are both saying it is now way past bed time.

Posted by Niklas Strengell

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