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brain hacking

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Brain hacking is the application of techniques and/or technologies to affect an individual’s mental state, cognitive processes or level of function. Such efforts may be intentionally applied by the individual as a tool for personal development or by an employer as a part of employee wellness and productivity initiatives.

As an approach for personal development, brain hacking seeks to enhance cognitive function and optimize efficacy and happiness. Brain-centered approaches to this end include meditation, metacognitive therapy, attention training and memory training. Continuing to learn and challenge the brain is essential; things like learning a new language or studying a new discipline improve the brain’s ability to function. Recent research indicates that, for greatest effect, learning experiences must be somewhat difficult and require effort. A more holistic approach to brain hacking includes all the recommendations for health and wellbeing, such as a nutritious and varied diet, adequate exercise, involvement in a community and time spent outdoors in nature.

Brain hacking is also used by external parties such as marketers and product designers to influence individual behavior. Social engineering, which exploits individual vulnerabilities to conduct security breaches, can also be considered a type of brain hacking. When the intention is to manipulate the target’s behavior without their knowledge or consent, brain hacking is sometimes referred to as brain hijacking.

Marketers and product designers adopt principles from neuroscience, behavioral psychology and sociology to develop compulsive elements for user interfaces, software mobile apps, social media, games and marketing content.

This was last updated in December 2018

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