DonnaM » Blog Archive » My brain filled up

My brain filled up

I wrote a report today. A big, long, complicated report. I sat at my desk for a long time writing it. By 3pm, I couldn’t figure out whether this phrase was correct: “Issues to consider includes:”

So why did my brain do this – why is it that I stopped being able to do something that I usually do easily. Is it just tiredness, or do our brains actually ‘fill up’ (to use a silly metaphor)? The reason I think it is more than tiredness is because I had a 10 minute telephone conversation and afterwards could immediately tell that my phrase was wrong. It was like the act of talking ‘reset’ my writing abilities.

I’ve encountered this before. After a day of usability testing or doing contextual interviews, I’m completely shattered – I feel like I’m somewhere else. But having a conversation or tutoring (rather than concentrating on listening) ‘resets’ me and I’m fine for the rest of the evening.

OK, this is probably basic cognitive psychology and something I should know. But hey – even though I’m a HCI girl, there’s still an awful lot I don’t know about the H, the C and the I ;)

3 Responses to “My brain filled up”

  1. Ron Zeno Says:

    Very long periods of intense concentration cause this, but I’m a bit embarrassed that I don’t understand it well. First, there’s the loss of blood sugars due to extended concentration and heightened arousal. Second, there’s the results of all the raised hormone levels (mostly adrenaline and the associated hormones) for extended periods of time. Those alone are enough for your body to start shutting down for sleep or a good nap. I don’t recall the details of the biochemical reactions, but basically you’re left with poorly fed brain cells, poor neurotranmitter response, and some fatigue-related byproducts circulating in your blood stream.

    Get some sleep, maybe with some light exercise an hour or more before you sleep… Make sure you eat well too.

  2. Tom Smith Says:

    …and of course the phrase should have been…


    … much simpler…

  3. Donna Maurer Says:

    Quite right!

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