Hands are an Information Highway to the Brain

“On average it is estimated that our hands are connected to 70%-80% of our brain cells.” (From the training for certification in LEGO® Serious Play® facilitation)

I’m fascinated by this statistic. I realize it’s imprecise and I can’t give you studies to back it up. But I know that people experience this connection all the time. Artists start creating without knowing where they are going. Musicians train their fingers and then let them play, without consciously controlling each movement. And during the LEGO® Serious Play® training my hands found some surprising insights. I didn’t always know what to build, and my controlling brain wanted to know before I started. But my hands knew what was interesting to hold and click to something else, and a model would grow before I knew exactly how I would talk about it or what it represented.

Even when my brain knew exactly what I wanted to build, using both hands accessed parts of my brain that I didn’t normally use for analysis, so when it was time to talk about it, I often came up with some additional insights. We all write, and talk, and even sometimes sketch diagrams to help us solve problems. But how often do we sculpt, or play, or dance, or use some other part of ourselves to help out? LEGO® bricks are especially useful since they are both logical and creative, so they can capture both sides of our brains and channel it all to something larger. There is so much of our brain that we can’t access consciously, finding a way to tap into some of our innate knowledge and bring it to consciousness is enormously helpful.

In fact our conscious minds can only hold on to about seven things at a time. By investing artifacts with information, our brains can let go of these pieces of info and be ready to find or develop something new. It’s like post-it notes or to-do lists, but with symbolic and metaphoric images which can help push information into long-term memory. Suddenly we can have complex conversations about a lot more than the seven things we can hold in our minds because we have this rich symbolic landscape we can manipulate and discuss.

In case you can’t tell, I’m super excited about this LEGO® Serious Play® facilitation method, and I can’t wait to start sharing it with people. There is so much richness in people I can help tap and share! And there are so many ways this method can be applied – team building, strategic analysis, understanding and strengthening a brand, business development, the list is long and growing. If this sounds exciting to you too, please comment and we can talk more about it!

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