Neuroscience

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The Three-Second Rule

Susan Aldworth on whether the idea that a relaxed brain may be the most creative is true.

The three second rule - once more like folklore or hearsay - has been discovered to be the happiest condition for the human brain. In this imaginative journey through the synapses a work, rest and play - Susan Aldworth, Artist in Residence at York University, slips inside a scanner, under the suprvision of neuroscientists Professor Miles Whittington, and Dr Fiona LeBeau, who she has been working with on a project exploring sleep, to discover whether paying heed to the three second rhythm of the mind can help us work rest and play. By the time you finish this sentence you will have made up your mind. You don't know it yet but the three second rule govenrns your life. There is a brain pulse, a sequence of internal events that repeats every three seconds. This also applies to poems and music, even Beethoven's Fifth. The repetition of phrases three seconds long is easily grasped. Sentence interpretation is also best understood at three seconds. It seems that the rule applies also when we are chilling out. We turn our thoughts inside as we daydream away. Whether we are choosing a lover, Reading a poem, painting a picture, or singing, It seems that maybe we all operate this way. Our attention span working in bursts of time. In this programme we will hear a brain working. mixed with the musings of actor Michelle Newell, We will build up a sound world of three second pulses. Get a rhythm of irresistible beats going in the listener. In the brain of Susan Aldworth, artist and printmaker. With the mind of Simon Townley, musician and composer, The wiles of dating coach Shaun (aka Discovery), and Professor Miles Whitingdon, Dr Fiona LeBeau, Dr Kai Alter. If you've made your mind up to listen by now, I hope you choose well. Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

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BBC Environment correspondent

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