Bodybuilding for the brain: John Pelley at TEDxTexasTechUniversity


John attempts to show his audience how action and sleep are used to build a strong brain as well as a strong body. Bodybuilding requires action for muscular growth and the growth occurs during sleep. Similarly, learning requires action for the physical growth of brain cells and this also occurs during sleep. Active learning experiences (sketching, organizing, discussing, etc.) are needed for the brain to replay them during sleep and that action must also be associated with emotion, if either the exercise routine or the learning experience is to be effective. Brain cells develop a temporary record of our experiences during the day but we don’t make that record permanent until we sleep. As we replay our experiences during sleep, only those with emotional value are retained, or consolidated, into memory. This can be seen physically in the development of a network of branched connections between brain cells, called dendritic trees. Muscle cells grow, brain cells grow.
The audience will be shown how to apply action and sleep to employ bodybuilding for the brain.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)



  1. Wait… so my lifelong problems with sleep are the primary cause of why I have so much trouble retaining information and the worst experiences in my life are the ones I recall the clearest because I have that emotional component to them?! Are you serious? Fml.


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