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ADHD & Technology: Brain Hacks and Upgrades

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Mike Cavaliere discusses techniques and strategies for both managing distraction and memory challenges, as well as regular maintenance for our brain for optimal performance. He also talks about methods that can actually improve one's brain.

Mike Cavaliere is the Director of Technology for ATTCK, a web development, design and digital strategy consultancy. He’s been in the software world for 15 years. Over the course of his life he’s found a lot of successful strategies for managing and improving ADHD. Over the past 9 years he’s been very passionate about brain science, and has done lots of self-experimentation.

Published in: Technology
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ADHD & Technology: Brain Hacks and Upgrades

  1. 1. ADHD & Technology by Mike Cavaliere http://adhdtechies.com Brain Hacks & Upgrades
  2. 2. InfoQ.com: News & Community Site • 750,000 unique visitors/month • Published in 4 languages (English, Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese) • Post content from our QCon conferences • News 15-20 / week • Articles 3-4 / week • Presentations (videos) 12-15 / week • Interviews 2-3 / week • Books 1 / month Watch the video with slide synchronization on InfoQ.com! https://www.infoq.com/presentations/ adhd
  3. 3. Presented at QCon New York www.qconnewyork.com Purpose of QCon - to empower software development by facilitating the spread of knowledge and innovation Strategy - practitioner-driven conference designed for YOU: influencers of change and innovation in your teams - speakers and topics driving the evolution and innovation - connecting and catalyzing the influencers and innovators Highlights - attended by more than 12,000 delegates since 2007 - held in 9 cities worldwide
  4. 4. Who are you? Questions for the audience
  5. 5. My Story
  6. 6. Your Brain Can Improve. …in a variety of ways. …a lot.
  7. 7. Brain-Change Stories
  8. 8. Brain-Change Stories Extreme learning disabilities gone Crippling stroke recovery Blindness cured Parkinson’s
  9. 9. Normal guy acquires superhuman memory
  10. 10. Some Background and terminology.
  11. 11. “ADHD” === “ADD” Different terms, same condition
  12. 12. Real vs Perceived ADHD “ADHD is imaginary.” “ADHD is created by our society/technology.” “Everyone has ADHD nowadays.”
  13. 13. ADHD is a Real Condition Not everyone really has it. The brains of ADHD people are different.
  14. 14. Hacks vs. Upgrades
  15. 15. • A band-aid • A workaround • An indirect or temporary solution • a physical hardware change • a stable software improvement “Hack” “Upgrade”
  16. 16. • Quick results • Cheap • E.g., meds, workspace changes, software tools • Con: dependencies • Con: limited effectiveness • Con: effects not automatic • Long-term / permanent(?) results • Potential effect is large • Automatic • E.g., neurofeedback, Brain Gym, hard-core meditation • Con: time consuming • Con: sometimes costly • Con: requires discipline “Brain Hack” “Brain Upgrade”
  17. 17. How to Approach Brain Improvement
  18. 18. Your Brain is a Startup. experiment, measure, repeat.
  19. 19. Treat everything as experiment Measure before & after Observe gradual changes Your Brain is a Startup.
  20. 20. Macro Measurements Intelligence tests Functional abilities tests (audio, visual, etc) High-level self-observation
  21. 21. Micro Measurements Periodic self-rating Apps?
  22. 22. Some Brain Hacks
  23. 23. Hacking Attention by reducing distraction
  24. 24. Types of Distraction Visual Auditory Social Digital Internal
  25. 25. Visual Distraction Motion Disorganization / workspace design description
  26. 26. Visual Distraction Organize desktop Face away from movement Visual barrier hacks
  27. 27. Auditory Distraction Noisy environments Coworkers talking Music w/vocals description
  28. 28. Auditory Distraction Noise-cancelling headphones No vocals Binaural beats noisli.com hacks
  29. 29. Social Distraction Coworkers Family / pets (when working from home) Phone calls description
  30. 30. Social Distraction Do not disturb mode Set expectations Headphones rule “No distractions” time blocks Remote work days hacks
  31. 31. Digital Distraction Push notifs, desktop notifs App sound effects Social media, hacker news, etc description
  32. 32. Digital Distraction Do not disturb Social media-blocking apps When in doubt, close all apps hacks
  33. 33. Internal Distraction Daydreaming Worrying Sensations (itching, vibration, etc) description
  34. 34. Internal Distraction No hacks :-/ Mindfulness works wonders
  35. 35. Hacking Memory
  36. 36. Let the Cloud do the Remembering Make everything digital & automatic
  37. 37. Files Code Everything Else
  38. 38. Organization is Key Have a system (Folder structure / Tagging conventions) Know the tool (Advanced search / Keyboard shortcuts) Review & refactor
  39. 39. Hacking Learning and skill building
  40. 40. Spaced Repetition
  41. 41. Mental Practice
  42. 42. Cardio! …and full-body movement
  43. 43. My Brain Upgrades Experiments & results
  44. 44. Vipassana Meditation • 10 days of silence • Immersive practice • Impulse control • Mindfulness • 100% free! http://dhamma.org
  45. 45. Brain Gym • Nervous system re-training
 (primitive reflexes) • Anxiety reduction • Better control of eyes / body • Communication ability • Less ticklish, less prone to startling
  46. 46. Interactive Metronome • Handheld sensor w/timing correction • Improved sense of time • Improved quantity estimation
  47. 47. Brain Games • Memory & focus improvements • Best when combined with exercise, other methods
  48. 48. Neurofeedback • Brain-wave headset • Movie stops when you don’t focus • Concentrate to start it again
  49. 49. Integrated Listening (ILS) • Mozart & bone-conduction headphones • Improved visual learning ability (significantly) • Coordination improvements • Increased flow (focus) states
  50. 50. Foundations for brain development
  51. 51. Foundations Sleep Nutrition Exercise *Mental state
  52. 52. Sleep 101 • Light / Sound • Movement • Alcohol / Caffeine • Technology • Sunlight (in daytime) • Exercise (in daytime) • White noise 
 (at bedtime, for some) Decrease (at bedtime): Increase:
  53. 53. Nutrition 101 Less sugar / artificial ingredients More colorful vegetables High protein, low carb Elimination diets
  54. 54. Exercise 101 Cardio + full-body movement 30-45min / day is ideal 10 min/day is better than 2 hours/week
  55. 55. Mental State 101 Stress kills Toxic personalities too
  56. 56. Happiness Fundamentals Relationships Personal development Kindness Purpose *Play http://thehappymovie.com
  57. 57. Happiness Fundamentals Fun is good for your brain!
  58. 58. Thanks for listening! ADHDTechies.com Mike Cavaliere mike@mikecavaliere.com
  59. 59. Watch the video with slide synchronization on InfoQ.com! https://www.infoq.com/presentations/adhd

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