Learning new skills makes mind sharper.


I am one of those thirteen students who didn’t or couldn’t attend the workshop in week 1. In my case it was “couldn’t”. As Jenny said later that week that the ones who missed the workshop in week 1, must read the Assessment Tab on LMS.

I read it.



After the second read of all those six pages, I decided this subject is not for me. I shall withdraw from the subject.


Programmers are trained to code. Not to Blog!

I am a student of Computer Science. Computer science,by the way is not about how to use computers or how to repair computers like Jonah Kagan explains here.



(Image credit: Michael Saechang [ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr)
(Image credit: Michael Saechang [ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr)

Since my UnderGrad. studies I have been coding. How could I then write essays? Let alone a blog. I wasn’t sure about my writing skills. After some thinking i thought i will wait another week, before I withdraw from this Science Communication subject. Meanwhile, I started exploring subject options that I had for enrolling in place of this one.

Week 2 started.I attended the week 2 seminar and workshop. Oh my! The projects. How will I ever be able to promote Fishes in Australia ? or Should i just choose iFish Search Engine?

Thanks to Jenny. She makes this subject so exciting that I started feeling interested and actually be willing to have a go at it. I also started looking forward to the projects.

That day I went back home and discussed the type of projects over dinner with my husband. Whose also a Software Engineer. Guess what he said after listening to the whole project list?

He told me me to withdraw from the subject and enrol in some different subject since I have no skills what so ever to do this Science Communication. I was shocked. He’s never suggested me to withdraw before. He’s the one who always pushes me and says I Know You Can Do It!

Why are we computer related people so scared to move out of our comfort zone? Why are we so reluctant to try to learn new skills that don’t relate to our current field? Why can’t we computer scientists be good at something different and new?


(Image credit: Stefan Baudy [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr)
(Image credit: Stefan Baudy [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr)


Brain Food

Studies have shown learning new skills actually makes mind sharper.

Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas says, “It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something—it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially. When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”

“We need, as a society, to learn how to maintain a healthy mind, just like we know how to maintain vascular health with diet and exercise,” says Park. “We know so little right now.”

The study was carried out on around 220 aged adults ranging from 60 – 90. They were assigned to learn a new skill, a specific type of activity for a period three months.

Results showed improvement in memory of the adults that had been engaged in learning a new skill compared to the ones who stayed with in their comfort zone.

Not only they were assigned a  new skill to learn but their environment was also changed to a different lifestyle.

“Our participants essentially agreed to be assigned randomly to different lifestyles for three months so that we could compare how different social and learning environments affected the mind,” says Park. “People built relationships and learned new skills — we hope these are  gifts that keep on giving, and continue to be a source of engagement and  stimulation even after they finished the  study.”

If a person continues using skills that you are already good at, doesn’t challenge the brain enough compared to learning a new skill. When you become an expert at a skill it becomes more of an automatic processing, While learning a new skill requires “brain network” to work more efficiently.


(Image credit: Juhan Sonin [ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr)
(Image credit: Juhan Sonin [ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr)


The two fishes

At the end nor did i chose to promote Fishes of Australia nor iFish Search Engine. I left the two fishes and stepped out of my comfort zone and chose Market of Mind. I will be meeting new people from Zoology and Epidemiology. It would be a good out of routine exercise for a sharper mind!


So step out of your comfort zone. Try to learn a new skill whether its learning to play a guitar or just writing a blog!





(Image credit: Mike Licht [ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr)
(Image credit: Mike Licht [ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr)

Links :




10 Responses to “Learning new skills makes mind sharper.”

  1. haamer says:

    Thanks Ashton and Chris. Looking forward to the Project. Lets see what the projects have for us to learn..:)

  2. Ashton Dickerson says:

    I honestly was one of those people that had no idea what computer scientists actually do. I read the article you linked to and it’s all so much clearer now. I loved the quote within it from Edsger Dijkstra “Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.” I feel that I now have a much better understanding.

    I’m really glad you decided to stay enrolled in the subject. It was lovely to meet you and I am looking forward to working with you on the Market of the Mind project!

  3. Chris Mawer says:

    Hi Hafsah,
    Please continue. This subject is not just about science communication. It introduces you to tools to help communicate complex ideas and concepts to people who don’t have your depth of expertise in the field.
    This sort of practical subject should be compulsory for undergraduate students in science, and there should be periodical refreshers for all science postgraduates.

  4. haamer says:

    Yes I agree. I personally believe that this subject should be taken at the beginning of your research , rather than at the last few semesters, Since it can even help in producing better assignments during the coursework / research semesters.

  5. haamer says:

    I agree. Am loving the experience of writing blogs. Publishing something of your own out there on the web. Hmmmm…I will have to look into the gaming perspective of computer science. I know the basics but may be not the details, But lets see what I can find out. Thanks for sharing your view.

  6. haamer says:

    Yes. egiles and ebyers I shall try to put something up related to Computer Science in future. Since I myself, am in phase of choosing a research topic and exploring my opportunities. It would be help me in the process. Best of Luck with your blog writing skills!

  7. rpoon1 says:

    Stick with it Haamer. Learning how to be a good communicator is a skill that most trained professionals think of as an after thought or something that can be learnt later. Speaking from experience I would have loved to have completed this subject 10 years ago before I joined the workforce. Investing the time in this subject will be beneficial in all aspects of life. It will certainly help with work and your training as a computer scientist. I found that after two weeks I’ve already been able to apply some of my learnings to my current job. Goodluck with the group project! I’m sure you will ace it.

  8. mbarrand says:

    I cant recall ever even reading a blog before I started this subject let alone contribute to one. I would love to read about gaming and app creation especially from a programming perspective. As somebody who loves to play games I really have no idea how they are coded. I was nervous to write a blog but am finding the experience uniquely enjoyable.

  9. egiles says:

    I also really hope you continue with the subject! I think you’d also be surprised by the varied backgrounds of the other students enrolled (including plenty of computer scientists!). As a neuroscientist, I would be more than interested in reading blog posts related to computer science and the unique area of computer science that you are working in. I personally think that the wide variety of disciplines in this subject will make for a very interesting, unique blog!

    In regards to stepping out of your comfort zone, I think one of my favourite quotes would be really fitting here: “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there”. I think you noticed that and made the right choice by stepping out and shaking your routine!

  10. ebyers says:

    I really hope you do decide to continue with the subject! Why not try writing about computer science? Thats surely a way to maintain a little bit of your comfort zone whilst making bold strides in a new direction.

    You should be proud that you’ve decided to try something that you find difficult and frightening, a lot of people never get that far. Besides, how better to reassure your readers than with the fact that you are also learning something new!