Claudia Hammond: The benefits of understanding our minds

Psychology research is helping us understand how our brains work and could help us improve our lives - we just have to start paying more attention to what scientists are finding...

World-changing ideas summit

The human mind is an extraordinary thing. It has allowed our species, in just a few thousand years, to reshape the world around us, to build cities, cars and spacecraft.

Our inventiveness is driven by an ingrained curiosity and imagination. Humans are the only species that we know of that has the ability to use the memories of past events to imagine the future.

But the brain is also not without its quirks – our behaviour can be guided by some surprisingly subtle cues due to the strange way our brain works. A simple bit of praise can make you feel more loyal, more willing to work harder and more motivated, for example.

Equally, when our thoughts are apparently idle, it is actually when we can be at our most imaginative. Neuroscientists have found that our brain appears to have a default mode to contemplate the future when it finds itself unoccupied.

Claudia Hammond, a science writer, presenter and a lecturer in psychology, believes we need to delve deeper into the human mind to help us in the future.

In the video above for BBC Future at the World-Changing Ideas Summit in Australia last month, she explains how psychology could help us solve some of the problems we face on a daily basis while also helping to answer some of the big questions about ourselves.

Read more: The pros and cons of the time-travelling mind

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