Flipbooks are Magic!

This post is about writing – which I will get to – but I will start by talking about flipbooks. Most of you have probably made a flipbook at one time or another. You take a notepad and draw a picture on the first page. On the second page you draw a similar picture, but you change some aspect of it slightly. On the third, fourth, fifth pages the image moves or changes slightly in each iteration. After you have made twenty or thirty pages you put down your pen. When you grasp the notepad and flip through the pages, something amazing happens: you’re brain compiles each of the slightly different pictures that it sees in rapid succession and tells you that you are seeing movement. Your static drawings have come alive!

It looks something like this:

We also call this process “animation”. This phenomenon is the basis for the cartoons you enjoyed when you were younger, and computer animation that is so popular today.

I discovered a fun website that allows you to spend endless hours creating your own simple animations, like the inspirational one that I included above. I will provide the link below… but I want to make my point about writing before you get lost in a cloud of artistic, animated creativity.

I have been thinking or several weeks now about how to bring my writing to life. I want to create a similar effect to what a person experiences when they begin to flip pages and see an illustration come to life. I strive to create memorable characters, and meaningful storylines… but what I really want is for the reader to think that they are holding something that might be alive when they read my work. I tried to write down some of the characteristics of a flipbook that make it seem “real”, and emulate some of those things in my writing. Here is an incomplete list: movement, depth, dimensions, shifting frame, velocity, color, passage of time. Next, I tried to list some of the devices, methods, styles that I have read in some of my favorite books that help to achieve a similar sense of reality/movement/color: descriptions of touch, smell, and other sensation, vivid description of settings, metaphor, analogy…

I think that the goal of creating “animation” through writing will take me some time to achieve, but I like to keep it in the front of my mind while I am writing in hopes that I will be able to create a piece so memorable, moving, or disturbing that the reader will want to read it more than once.

Okay, here is the link for the animation website: Flip Anim

You can figure out all of the controls within a few minutes, watch animations from other users, leave comments, etc. You can even download your animations or send a link to your friends. P.S. you might want to set a timer, or you will find yourself spending hours on this site!

Diet and Brain Function

If you enjoy food, brains, and lots of acronyms for various neuromodulating protein complexes then you will love this article. Actually, the thing that I like most about this article is that it condenses several complex studies of brain function into a few paragraphs that are relatively easy to understand. There are links included to several of these studies that quickly dive into complex neuroscience, but there are also several diagrams that help to visualize the basis for the conclusions of the article.

Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function

The take home message: Fat is bad, fatty acids are good. Go gettem! Enjoy a nice piece of fish whenever you are able to. Your brain will thank you.

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This Is Your Brain on Jane Austen: The Neuroscience of Reading Great Literature

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I found this article and the cited research from Michigan State University very informative. It addresses different areas of activation within the brain during reading for pleasure, and reading technical information.

It also mentions the principle of “cognitive training”, in this case being able to shift focus effectively and completely between various items or tasks. This principle is closely related to the function and intent of Italic Bookmarks.

I hope you enjoy it:

This Is Your Brain on Jane Austen: The Neuroscience of Reading Great Literature | Open Culture

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Watching Television vs Reading a Book

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This article from the website Medical Daily compares brain function and development while watching television or while reading books. There are references and descriptions of several studies conducted within the last few years that focus on various measurements of brain development and cognitive function in each scenario. Can you guess which activity is better for your brain? (Hint: Your mother has been right all along)

The article is interesting, the studies themselves are very fascinating and comprehensive.

Watching Television vs Reading a Book

… But lets face it, we love television. We can’t miss our favorite shows, and watching a good movie is like taking a trip to another planet. Some of us know more about our favorite actors than we do about members of our own family. Don’t want to give up television? Try this…

Keep track of the number of hours you spend watching Netflix for one week (or whatever your preferred source of screen-time may be), then commit to read at least as many hours in a week as you watch television. Since most of us cannot spontaneously add more hours to our day, you will likely have to spend a night or two with a book in your hands instead of the television remote. When I tried this in early 2016, and really tried to keep track of the hours, I found that I typically still fell short of equal time reading and watching television. On the other hand, I was suddenly reading four to five times more than I ever had before. Spending that much time with books made me much more excited about reading, which in turn made it easier to choose an hour with a book over an hour with a glowing screen.

Read the article above, then try the challenge. Spend at least as many hours reading this week as you spend watching television… let me know how it goes.

(TIP: Finding a really, really, really good book will make this challenge much easier. Let me know if you need a recommendation.)

 

Walking and Circles

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I read two new articles on a “knowledge forum” website called  Big Think. These both feature a simple and meaningful breakdown of very intriguing research that has been conducted related to brain-function, habit, and thought process.

The first article presents research to suggest that the act of walking can stimulate brain function specifically related to “creativity”. Let’s take a walk! You can read it here:

 Walking and Creativity

The second article explains research that has established a link between language, culture, etc and the way a person draws a figure as simple as a circle. I assumed that everyone draws a circle the same way I do, starting at the top and moving in a counter-clockwise motion… not so. You can read that article here:

The Way You Draw Circles

 

What is a Tactile Mechanoreceptor?

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Mechanoreceptor Diagram

There are so many articles and studies about tactile perception… and so few that are simple enough to actually understand!

This article is pretty cerebral – but there is a very interesting diagram from the article. As it turns out, there is a lot going on inside our fingertips!

NCBI – Tactile Mechanoreceptors

 

 

If you like brains…

I came across this page from an Emeritus Professor at California State University, Chico.

Neuroanatomy basics

 

I found it interesting, and easy to understand. The Parietal Lobe seems to be most applicable for explaining how and why Italic Bookmarks work the way they do. It is part of a more extensive view of the brain and central nervous system, but this particular page gives some basic anatomy of the brain as well as a description of the general function of each region.

Source: Patrick McCaffrey, Ph.D. Emeritus Professor

Your Brain on Harry Potter

Scientific American – How our brains process books

I found this article very interesting! Researchers mapped the brain function of several study participants while reading an exciting chapter from Harry Potter. The article discusses a particular observation that was made during this study: they observed that the areas of the brain that are active while reading about the flying, swerving, accelerating in their first flying lesson are the same areas that are active when a person actually experiences movement in real-life! I hope you enjoy the article, it is a quick read.


The Bandwidth of Tactile Perception

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This is a great resource that explains the various types of receptors, transmitters, sensor, processors that are all associated with our magnificent sense of touch. Each time you touch something, or feel a sensation on your skin, there is a lot more going on than you might realize. I found this site very helpful in better understanding “touch”.

The Bandwidth of Tactile Perception – Somatic Labs Blog

The fabric of thought: priming tactile properties during reading

I thought this article/study was fascinating because it is essentially the inverse effect of what you will experience when using Italic Bookmarks. Italic Bookmarks can enhance the reading experience by involving tactile (touch) sensation, this study indicates that tactile sensation can be enhanced by reading… in both cases it demonstrates how reading and our senses are closely related.

This study has some big words, but in simple terms the researchers had their subjects read about different descriptions of items and textures, then they let them actually feel those items. The subjects reported that their sense of touch was enhanced and more specific after this type of conditioning or “preview” than when that was not included.

I hope you find the article interesting:

The fabric of thought: priming tactile properties during reading influences direct tactile perception. – PubMed – NCBI

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