Money & Business

Lunchtime Links: This Is How You Exercise Your Brain

By / Aug 19, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

According to neuroscientific research, exercise and sun exposure can increase brain activity. Also: why highly diverse teams are the most productive.

Feel like you’ve lost focus? Take a stroll around the block during lunchtime. The sun exposure and general physical activity can improve your long-term brain function.

Thoughts on that, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links:

Get some vitamin D: With so many distractions, it’s become increasingly difficult to focus during the workday. Some people believe that the “Mozart effect”—listening to classical music—can increase concentration. It can certainly do so momentarily, but for long-term brain enhancement, exercise and vitamin D are more likely to help your case. According to Nicholas Spitzer, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California and editor-in-chief of BrainFacts.org, an increase in sun exposure and physical movement can improve brain functionality. In a recent study, he found that humans produce different results based on their environment. During winter, our brains are programmed to hoard energy due to the lack of sun exposure, for instance. Spitzer “thinks that our brains change their behavior (like ‘a railway switching yard’) based on environmental factors to help us conserve energy during winter,” Quartz writer Rachel Feltman explains, noting that these environmental factors—and our reaction to them—are part of the reason people may suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression that hits during the winter months. How do you exercise your brain?

Better diversity, better results: According to multiple bodies of research, having a diverse staff can lead to more productive results. This diversity isn’t just encouraged—it’s needed. Introverts, extroverts, analytical thinkers, and creative types should all have input in a project. For instance, having gender balance in a team produces better results than a team of all men or all women. “A 2011 study showed that teams with a 50-50 balance of dudes and ladies did best in a business venture. Why? Because they were doing more ‘mutual monitoring’—that [is,] checking to make sure everyone’s doing their job,” Fast Company writer Drake Baer reports. One warning, though: Having a mix of analytical types and big thinkers on a team can create tension; in cases like that, having a focused process can ensure that things don’t break.

Taking the next step with service: Short-term home rental service Airbnb goes to great lengths to ensure impeccable customer service. After a few mishaps in service quality, the company has begun to pay more attention to its customers, even when they don’t have a complaint or ask for help. Some customers have received gifts after tweeting about their weekend plans with Airbnb. Property owners have also received gifts to offer as amenities to their renters. “We want to give people peace of mind by being there for them when they need us. We want to be the front desk that travels with them,” Monroe Labouisse, director of customer service, told Business Insider.

What have been some of your proudest member service moments? Share them with us in the comment section below.

Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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