About Do It Better

Our name, Do It Better, reflects our commitment to a growing movement in cognitive science research — embodied cognition — that challenges our long-held dualistic views about the mind, still the mainstream, in which the activity of thinking is treated as separate from, often in opposition to, physical activity.  Our common sense ideas about cognition are fuelled by this view — most people believe that they can think what they want and that what they choose to think might have nothing whatever to do with their bodies. We begin with the opposite assumption.  But thinking is a physical activity that involves our brains, our entire bodies, and our environment as well.

Embedded Minds

Whenever we sense our environment (and this is continually, unless we are in a deep sleep or in a sensory deprivation chamber) even though we may not become conscious of these sensations, our thoughts are directed by them, in some way or another. And we frequently use our environment, And we frequently use our environment, even when we are not aware that we are doing so, in order to improve our cognitive abilities.  We use visual cues — an empty milk carton left by the door, a string on a finger — to help us remember things.  We use pencil and paper or calculators to perform mathematical computations we cannot do in our heads alone.  We use words as stand-ins for complex ideas so that we can think even more complex ideas.  And on and on.

Extended Minds

Andy Clark was the first to label this practise — he calls it the Extended Mind Hypothesis — the idea that we are not as smart as we think we are, but that we achieve great cognitive successes nevertheless thanks to our smart tools.

Embodied Cognition

Finally, current research is showing us that the physical state of our bodies influences our cognitive capacities in other ways as well: physical activity increases concentrations of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, and this in turn reduces depressive symptoms, such as apathy and brain fog, the inability to think clearly about any topic at all. (For a survey and list of studies see Wolff, E. et al. 2011. Exercise and physical activity in mental disorders. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci, 261(Suppl 2):S186–S191.) Other studies suggest that physical activity results in neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons in our brains. (Here is a recent one: Lafenetre, P. et al. 2011. The Beneficial Effects of Physical Activity on Impaired Adult Neurogenesis and Cognitive Performance. Frontiers in neuroscience, ISSN 1662-4548, Volume 5, p. 51.) At Do It Better we are always exploring new ways in which we might harness what we do with our bodies in order to improve our cognitive skills.

ESC Research Institute

We are affiliated with The ESC Research Institute for Embodied Cognitive Science. ESC is a collaboration nexus for researchers in cognitive science who take an embodied approach in their work, who begin their research with the idea that cognition is a physical activity that integrally involves the brain, the body, and the environment. The solutions we provide at Do It Better are based on this research.

Don't Be Shy. Get In Touch.

If you have any questions about what we do or if you’re wondering about embodied cognitive science and want to know more, drop us a line.  We love to talk about this stuff!

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