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The moment of learning is an incredibly complex event that neuroscientists do not yet completely understand. Current knowledge suggests assimilated information is fragmented, converted into electrical code, and dispersed throughout the brain as if a cerebral pyrotechnical skyrocket exploded.
For example, when we see a car driving down the street light enters our eyes and is focused on the retina where it stimulates photo receptors and is converted into electrical signals. These signals are transferred from the retina to the occipital lobes of the brain by way of the optic nerves. Information is then fragmented and dispersed throughout the brain as if a barrage of miniature explosions occurred. Different areas of the brain process different fragments of information. For example, one area processes shapes and forms, another color, still another light reflecting off the car’s windshield and metal.
All of this fragmented and compartmentalized information is then coalesced to construct the visual perception of the car driving down the street. This seemingly simple process is actually extraordinarily complex. If an area of the brain responsible for processing a specific type of information is damaged strange things may happen.
One example is Akinetopsia, known as motion blindness. Patients who suffer from this disorder cannot see motion. One famous reported case revolved around a patient known as "LM". Crossing the street was a frightful experience for her. Instead of seeing cars rolling down the street, they "warped" down the street. It was as if the car would all of a sudden appear somewhere else. She could see everything else fine. She knew the color, shape, and texture of the car, but the wheels did not turn, and the car did not move in the conventional sense.
So if information is fragmented and stored in different areas of our brain, how do we bring it together to form a single perception? Scientists call their difficulty in finding a solution "the binding problem". They do not understand exactly how our brain is able to piece all the information together, but are not completely clueless either. It is known that when the information is "blown up", or fragmented, it is converted into electrical patterns the brain can understand. Scientists believe that after each type of information reaches its respective area, it emanates back out like a "ripple effect" where different areas of the brain combine it to form a complete picture.
When we are solving a novel problem, the pertinent information is initially dispersed in our entire brain, and then ripples back to specific regions. Consequently, when we try to solve a problem, the ripples activate neurons in the areas most important to solving the problem at hand. If we are solving a word problem, the specific area of the brain activated is different than it would be if we were solving a math problem.
Unless you have the necessary neurons and synaptic connections, you will not be able to solve the problem. This goal of this chapter is to construct and enhance the neural networks your brain uses to solve different types of problems. We are already creating new brain cells and making it easier for them to establish and strengthen connections. Now we need to construct the networks.
1. Improving Your Intelligence is Possible After All
2. Lifestyle Strategies to Maximize Brainpower
3. Optimizing Your Diet for Mental Performance
4. Mental Exercise
5. Nootropic Supplementation