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# Dr. Alan Watkins: Being Brilliant Every Single Day (Part 1) at TEDxPortsmouth (Transcript)

But what this little clip on Neil’s ear can see, is we can see the change in color. Here’s red, here’s white. Here’s red, here’s white. Here’s red, here’s white. So this is a heartbeat. So it’s good news now. You’re alive, mate. The heart’s beating away. Boom – boom – boom – boom – boom — boom. So the heart’s beating. And so what the software does, it measures the distance between each of those beats. And based on the distance between this beat and this beat, it calculates its heart rate and says it’s 76. And it calculates it again, and again, and again, and again, and again. And you can see that his heart rate bobbling along about 75 beats per minute. So pretty relaxed. Sat in a chair, your heart rate should be doing about 75 beats per minute.

Okay, so what we’re going to do in a moment is we’re going to put him under a little bit of pressure and see how well he copes with that kind of pressure. Are you good under pressure, Neil?

[Neil: I don’t know yet.]

We don’t know. Well we’re just about to find that out, aren’t we? So let’s see how well he does under pressure. So we haven’t started yet, and already his heart rate is creeping up to about 90. So he says, “What are we going to do here?” So we’re going to give you some mathematics. How good are you at mathematics?

[Neil: Quite good.]

Oh he’s quite good. This will be no trouble, right? So he thinks he’s quite good, but his heart rate’s now — I’m good. I’m quite good. He’s gone off the charts and now he’s settling back down. You can see there’s a lot of chaos going through his system right now. So even though, “I’m good at this,” that is a natural physiological response to a challenge. You put somebody under pressure, the physiology, whether he wants it to happen or not. You see, he might look like he’s in control. He is not. In fact, I am the puppet master. I’m pulling his strings, whether he wants me to do that or not. So at the moment, there’s a bit of uncertainty. The physiology is sort of settled around about 80. Slightly higher than it was before because he doesn’t know what’s going to happen.

So let’s see how well his brain actually functions under pressure. So let’s see how good at that math he really was. So what you’re going to do is, you’re going to count out loud backwards subtracting threes. I’m going to start you off at a certain number. I want you to take away three and then give me the answer. Take away three again, give me the answer. Take away another three, give me the answer. And keep going, serial subtractions of threes without making a mistake. And if you make a mistake it’s 50 quid. Okay, so financial penalty for every error.

Okay. So is that all right with you? So no problem at all. We’re going to count out loud backwards subtracting three’s, the mention of 50 quid look the heart rates crept up here to 120. Just the tension in the system, so again, I’m just talking to him, that’s all that’s happening. And actually by me just talking to him, a physiology chaos is kicking in and that’s going to be sending a signal from his heart to his brain. It’s going to be inhibiting his brain function, we’ll see there, as fast as you can without making a mistake say your subtraction of three’s starting off at 300, go, come on 300.

Come on, faster, 286…., 275, 273… Well done. Give him a round of applause everybody. So what you can see is when I started to feed in the wrong answers, 280, what, what…it’s called cortical inhibition, or frontal lobe shutdown. So under pressure the frontal lobe shuts down in the simplest of tasks. Subtract three from that number. Can’t do it, that is happening to all of you when you’re under pressure. Your brain is built this way, so one of the things you need to learn to do is to get control of that physiological level and switch from a chaotic signal to what’s called coherent.

So the thing that underpins brain function is the ability to generate a coherent signal. So there’s variance, but it’s stable variance as opposed to wildly fluctuant variance. And that is the source of your brilliance.

So thank you very much.