Before we start focusing on issues involving the human brain, here are some statistics. The brain has roughly 86 billion neurons — that’s similar to the number of stars in the Milky Way. And if you look at synapses— the connections between neurons— the numbers are even harder to comprehend: nearly a quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000).
Can Intelligence be Measured?
Measuring intelligence is quite difficult, and different groups define it in very different ways. As Amherst psychology Professor, Catherine Sanderson, explains in this video clip, the use of IQ tests generally leads to results that prove very little. Her own view of intelligence includes: “the global capacity to think rationally, act purposefully, profit from experience, and deal effectively with the environment.”
How Long Can Your Brain Help You Learn New Things?
Notre Dame Professor Jessica Payne is one of the world’s experts on brain function, and in this clip she delivers a remarkable and very welcome message. The brain can actually rejuvenate itself, generate new neurons, and retain complex information well into a person’s 80’s, in most cases. But that requires a person to commit to a few very important efforts: regular sleep, as well as physical exercise, nutrition, and continued lifelong learning.
Where Do Creative Thoughts Come From?
Harvard Professor Shelley Carson offers an insightful observation about creativity involving John Forbes Nash: winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for Economics and subject of the book and movie A Beautiful Mind. He told friends that his schizophrenic visions about aliens invading earth came to him in a sudden brain flash–exactly the same way as his groundbreaking mathematical formulas.
Do Geniuses Do Well in School?
Yale Professor Craig Wright studies the nature of genius, and in this clip he examines notable individuals throughout history — comparing their education level and grades to their achievement level. His list includes: da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Curie, Edison, and Mozart. Also, J.K. Rowling and Jeff Bezos. His conclusion? There really is no relationship!
Memory: Even One Word Can Make a Big Difference
Memory is tricky, according to Michigan Professor Thad Polk. When two different groups were given a memory test based on information provided to them quickly, the results varied a great deal when just a single word was changed.
For Difficult Decisions, Slow Down
Professor Heather Berlin, neuroscientist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, explains the result of an experiment measuring decision-making ability for both simple and complex thoughts. For the former, quick decisions are just fine. But for the latter, slowing down and allowing for unconscious decision-making is preferable.
Does Boredom Have a Purpose?
Yes, boredom has a purpose, according to James Danckert, a Professor at the University of Waterloo in England. Just as pain is a body function that alerts us to problems, boredom is a mindset that generally pushes us to some sort of action.
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