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Did you know that our brains are pattern-seeking machines? It’s actually one of the functions of our brain that we use the most and we don’t even realize it. In this article, we will review ways to improve brain function by understanding the way our brain sees patterns.

In today’s fast-changing environment the ability to make quick subconscious connections based on previous experiences is very useful. This allows us to ensure our safety, as a learning experience of previous stressors. 

Here we will explain what pattern-seeking actually means in regard to our thought process and how we can use it to our advantage as one of the ways to improve brain function. 

There is a connection between the gastrointestinal tract as well as the nervous system. The neurotransmitters, the vagal nerve, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The brain is impacted by the gastrointestinal system. In order to improve brain function, you first must improve gut health. There are many factors that contribute to the gut-brain axis. Our gut has trillions of microorganisms to help maintain homeostasis. The first step to improving brain function is to work on healing the gut. We have an ebook about healing the digestive tract here to get good gut health.

What Is Pattern Recognition and how to improve brain function

Let’s start from the beginning – with the term apophenia. The word itself means the search of connections of seemingly unrelated subjects – from finding faces in different items to having lucky numbers in a game of roulette. The brain is always looking to make connections, sometimes to things unrelated. 

However, if we get more complex, a different example can be how our brains process information regarding complicated situations based on past experiences (think of the way master chess players develop strategies). Our past memories tell our present mind to create actions. Simply put our previous experiences dictate our current actions. 

This is the type of superior pattern processing (SPP) a lot of scientists argue has made our species so advanced – we most likely owe our ability to understand language, have such vivid imagination and think of inventions to SPP. We can improve brain function by learning to be more conscious and present to the connections that our brain has to the outside world. 

We won’t get into medical terms but the most basic explanation is that the way our neurons are connected and how those connections are made and strengthened through time is what’s behind our complex way of thinking. One of the ways to improve brain function is to meditate and have various mindfulness practices. 

This is the foundation of all research connected to pattern-seeking in our brains. Granted that this process is so important, bettering it in our daily lives must have a big impact. 

How To Use Pattern Seeking To Improve Brain Function

Well, we already subconsciously do. With each recurring action, we take we teach our brain how the action itself is connected to the effect. So one of the ways we use to improve brain function is to be fully present with the current reality we are creating. We can do this by journaling and beginning to be present on our recurring actions and asking ourselves, why? Why are we doing the things that we are doing?

Therefore the more we reinforce our actions with explanations, the better our brain will find the motivation to do them again or stop doing them altogether. 

For instance, try each time something makes you happy, big or small, to pause and explain to yourself how you got here. One of the ways we improve brain function is by asking ourselves why? Why are we doing what we are doing, instead of just doing it? 

If you pay a compliment to a stranger and see them smile, remind yourself that you enjoy seeing other people’s happiness, therefore your own is connected to that of others. This means we must slow down and be fully present to what we like and what we don’t like in life. 

After you have that as an assured connection due to pattern-seeking you’ll end up both doing such acts of kindness more often and finding more enjoyment in them. 

A different idea is each time you tell a memory, try to remind yourself of how and why surrounding memories made you feel happy. If you’re telling a sad memory for example try to remind yourself about a time or a place close to the event that was positive to you in some way – like this you are actively teaching your brain that all bad comes with good, thus creating a more positive outlook on life in general. 

These actions are ways to improve your brain function that might seem small and they take some time to work, but once your brain has internalized them and made them into habits, it gets much easier. 

You’ve probably heard of Donald Hebb’s saying “neurons that fire together, wire together” – if the type of connection between the neurons is to seek a positive idea each time, a better, more positive way of thinking will be reinforced. 

The other big reason why pattern-seeking is useful is that it’s the easiest way to learn. One of the ways to improve brain function is to begin to see how the brain learns new concepts. 

Using something our brains do effortlessly to remember new information is a smart technique. The way this method can be incorporated into studying is simple – if you have a given rule, try to gather the evidence supporting it yourself. 

Think of it like figuring out the Pythagorean theorem by mapping it all out – that way you remember the pattern itself and not just the numbers. 

And this doesn’t work just for maths, anything you learn from your own experience, finding it and proving it more than once in your active life (searching for a pattern to add to the list of proof) is much easier to remember because it’s a much more vivid story that your brain can archive.  

A different technique is to make connections between your own field of study and something which you already know – for instance explaining the way black holes work with a ball and a piece of fabric. 

Technically patterns are everywhere, one of the ways to improve brain function is by explaining patterns with something not as abstract, and finding out why they are similar helps you learn the more complex and not tangible theories. Pattern seeking is a natural benefit we have so using it to expand our knowledge is extremely easy once you know its benefits. 

Pattern recognition has been embedded in our brains as a way of survival ever since we started evolving as a separate species. 

This means that looking at the present, we have had enough time to perfect it as a process and to build on top of it. 

The more we use patterns to better our learning, to ask more questions, and improve our outlook on life the easier it gets. 

So with that in mind, give our ideas a try and see how far you can go! 

The brain is wired to see certain patterns but that does not mean we are not able to see changes in patterns. If we are present and conscious of our brain and how our brain works then we will be more attuned to knowing how to improve brain function. Looking at patterns is one way, but so is consciousness work using mindfulness practices. If you are on a journey to help yourself to be more conscious please check out our consciousness course. 

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