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Your brain is by far the most important thing in your life. Essentially, it IS you.
It is estimated the three pound human brain contains between 80 - 120 billion brain cells (neurons). Each neuron, on average, has 50,000 connections with other neurons. This means your brain contains 4 - 6 quadrillion connections (synapses). These numbers typed out are 4,000,000,000,000,000 and 6,000,000,000,000,000. To put this in perspective, there are an estimated 7 billion humans on our planet. You would need roughly 800,000 planet earths to make the human population equal to the number of synapses in a single human brain! The human brain is, without question, the most magnificent, complex, and elegant arrangement of matter known to mankind!
Our brain controls our entire body and regulates every organ, muscle, and physiologic response. Nothing happens unless our brain orchestrates it. Every thought we think, word we speak, and movement we make, is controlled by our brain without our realizing it. Our identity, personality, and memories are stored in our brain. If our brain is damaged, our personality would change dramatically. We would become a completely different person with the same name and physical body. Essentially, our brain IS who we are.
Our brain's magnificence does not stop with the unfathomably large number of connections it is comprised of, or the enigma of "self" it generates. The human brain is very plastic. Plasticity refers to the brain's ability to alter its connections. Our brain's plasticity is responsible for our ability to learn new concepts, memorize facts, and even alter our personality. This is astounding if you think about it. Computers cannot change their circuiting, rewrite their code, and learn on their own... at least not yet.
I know many of you are thinking. "My brain is inferior to a computer. I certainly cannot do advanced mathematics." This is true, but for good reasons. As I mentioned, our brains are responsible for keeping us alive and regulating our entire body's physiology. Also, it is subjected to a constant barrage of information from all five of our senses; sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. The amount of information assimilated just from sitting outside on the grass and staring at clouds is unfathomable. If a computer tried to assimilate and process the amount of information the human brain does on a daily basis it would overload.
Additionally, our brains have evolved to perceive abstractions, something computers cannot do well. Abstractions represent commonality across different situations, stripped of all irrelevant information. Speech recognition provides an excellent example. When we listen to someone speak, we filter out background noise and focus on what the person is saying. We pay attention to their tone, inflections, and context. Despite someone's accent, tone of voice, or background noise, you can still comprehend what they are saying. You can tell if someone is being sarcastic simply by their intonations. This seems so natural to us, but it is an amazing feat that only the human brain can easily achieve.
Computers struggle to make these distinctions. Consider voice recognition software. You need to be in a quiet area, and enunciate almost perfectly. It certainly cannot tell if someone is sarcastic, angry, humorous, or afraid. Cameras have recently been programmed to recognize human faces. But this technology often misidentifies random objects such as a face, an object a 3 year old child easily comprehends. We may have become adept at programming computers to make the types of distinctions the human brain makes, but computers still fall short. We do not have robotic maids because there is not yet a computer that can distinguish objects which need to be cleaned or picked up from objects that are satisfactory in their present state.
The human brain cannot perform advanced math because it evolved to recognize abstractions and has a multitude of other important responsibilities to which it must allocate its processing power. Keep in mind; computers were programmed to complete their functions by a human brain. Every function a computer has was determined by the human brain through various programming languages. In a way, computers represent an extension of the magnificence of the human brain. It is not fair to say computers are superior to the human brain because the human brain engineered computers!
The human brain's unfathomable complexity makes it a mystery. But every year we learn more about how the human brain functions, and more specifically, how intelligence functions. The nature vs. nurture debate on intelligence used to be a huge debate. In other words, do genetics determine our intelligence, or does our environment? Is it a combination of genetics and environment, and if so, to what extent?
Most neuroscientists now agree that both genetics and environmental factors play a role in determining one's intelligence. But what percentage of our intelligence is contributed by each? In other words, how heritable is intelligence? The book, Intelligence and the Brain, Solving The Mystery of Why People Differ in IQ and How A Child Can Be a Genius, by Dennis Garlick, PhD, investigates this question.
This book cites multiple studies which attempted to answer this question. One study concluded that intelligence is 50% heritable, while another concluded 80%. But the book points out a flaw in studies which try to pin point an exact number. We simply cannot pinpoint an exact number.
You can decrease the heritability of any trait by increasing environmental variation. Variance in environmental factors will modify differences in performance, and show the environment has a large effect on the trait being studied. Alternatively, if everyone is subjected to the same environment, the differences in the trait would be attributed to genetics. In short, the heritability of any trait in part depends on environmental variation.
Consider two extreme examples. In the first, 1000 people with different genes are subjected to the exact same environment. In this experiment, genetics would cause the differences in intelligence because the environments are the same. In the second example, 1000 people with the exact same genes are subjected to completely different environments. In this experiment, the environment would cause the differences in intelligence.
We may not know exactly how heritable intelligence is, but we know that our environment and genetics both play an important role. This means that genetics determine our intellectual potential, and our environment determines whether we reach that potential.
This relationship between genetics and environment can also be observed in our physical strength. No matter how much time and effort some people devote to building body mass and strength, they will never develop the physique of a body-builder. On the other hand, someone might have the genetic potential to become a professional body-builder, but if they do not work hard to become one, they will never fulfill that potential. The same holds true for intelligence. No matter how hard many people work towards improving their intelligence, they will never have an IQ of 140. But there are also many people who could achieve an IQ of 140 or higher if they put forth the effort.
If someone without a genetic predisposition to become a body builder works hard he will become stronger than similar individuals who do not put forth the effort. Similarly, you might lack the genetics to reach a genius level IQ, but if you work hard, you will become more intelligent and reach your genetic potential. I would rather be someone with inferior genetics and reach my full potential than have superior genetics and never come close to my potential.
Every healthy child becomes more intelligent as they age. In fact, they acquire intelligence at an extremely fast rate because of a very specific process that takes place in their cerebral cortex. This process is outlined in the book, Intelligence and the Brain, Solving The Mystery of Why People Differ in IQ and How A Child Can Be a Genius, by Dennis Garlick, PhD and I will summarize his description for you.
Our cerebral cortex is a series of wrinkles which surrounds much of our brains. Scientists have used MRI imaging to determine that "thinking" takes place in our cerebral cortex. When a child is born they have an abundance of neurons, but a relatively low number of connections, or synapses, between the neurons. During infancy, these connections become established at an astounding rate. Then, the connections are refined until the child reaches maturity, which usually occurs near the age of 16.
Earlier I mentioned that humans have the ability to differentiate relevant from irrelevant information. Babies and toddlers, however, are not yet able to do this. They are actively building a multitude of synaptic connections based on their sensory input. But as children age, the refinement of synaptic connections allows them to abstract and differentiate important from unimportant information. In other words, synaptic connections associated with irrelevant information are marginalized.
Genetics determine how many neurons a baby is born with and the number of neurons they initially create, but their environment guides the refinement process. You must provide a child with mentally stimulating activities if you want them to reach their intellectual potential.
As an adult, your cerebral cortex is much less plastic than it was when you were a child. For this reason, it is easier to become literate and learn new languages at an early age. This is exactly why following a program such as building brain power is important. "Building Brain Power" maximizes one's ability to learn and understand new things by implementing lifestyle changes, proper diet, mental exercise, and nootropics.
Recent research shows that our brains are like muscles. Our brain will strengthen with frequent use.
This program compiles much of the published research on brain building and brain health that has been discovered the past several decades, and is perhaps the most comprehensive program you will find. Other programs only discuss lifestyle, diet, or mental exercise. Some provide limited information on nootropics. This program combines lifestyle, diet, physical exercise, mental exercise, and nootropic use. Presented is a 90 day plan to help you reach your cognitive potential. No other cognitive guide incorporates all five of these factors into a single workout regimen for your brain, and no other guide details mental exercise or nootropic use. For the skeptical, listed below are studies which support one's ability to improve brain power.
This cognitive enhancement regimen equates building intelligence to building muscle mass and research shows this to be an accurate comparison. Consider increasing muscle mass. Our daily life greatly effects how strong we are. People who work in cubicles are generally weaker than those who engage in physical labor. People who watch TV all day are generally less intelligent than people who occupationally challenge their minds. However, people who work in cubicles can become physically stronger by going to the gym and exercising their muscles, and people who watch TV all day can become more intelligent by exercising their brains.
Let us examine muscle building on a deeper level. Challenging muscles with weight resistance increases muscle mass. If you go to the gym and perform random exercises, will you get stronger? Sure, but your results will be limited. You might only develop one or two muscle groups, and fail to develop the most important or desired muscles. To do this, you need to know which exercises target specific muscles. You need a well thought out, structured regimen. Enhancing intelligence is no different. You need to target the most important areas of cognitive function, and know which mental exercises target specific areas. Most people play completely random brain games and this will not give you the most favorable results. You might only improve your focus, or perhaps spatial reasoning. To achieve the best outcome, you need to engage in mental exercises that simulate different areas of the brain. The chapter on mental exercises will explain which areas of cognitive function are most important, and how you can properly enhance them.
To improve your strength, you need to constantly challenge your muscles. Lifting the same weight will not build strength; you need to push your boundaries. Mental exercise is no different. You will not see improvement if you do not challenge your brain. The chapter on mental exercises will explain how to best challenge your brain, and why it is important. Consider professional body-builders. Besides adhering to a very structured workout regimen, what else do they do? The most obvious answer is dietary supplements. There are many safe and dangerous supplements you can take to more quickly build muscle mass. Protein, vitamin supplements, and steroids help many people build muscle strength and mass. Similarly, there are supplements which enhance the process of improving cognitive abilities, and they are called nootropics. Most are safe and can be purchased online. Some nootropics "loosen up" your brain, and allow you to build intelligence more quickly. These nootropics are called "core nootropics". Other nootropics provide a temporary boost to one or more areas of cognitive function and I refer to these nootropics as "situational nootropics" .Some could be considered both "core” and "situational" nootropics.
Most people do not distinguish between the two categories. They believe nootropics will magically make them more intelligent. If they use their brain at work, or recreationally, nootropics will help. But taking "core nootropics", and not engaging in mental exercise, is comparable to taking protein shakes and not going to the gym. The benefit you realize will be limited. The nootropics chapter will explain the differences between core and situational nootropics. You will learn which core nootropics can be taken daily to supplement your mental exercises and which nootropics are best suited for specific situations.
What else do professional body builders do? They eat a healthy diet, and engage in lifestyle habits that foster physical health and muscle growth. Individuals who are serious and resolute body builders do not indulge in unhealthy foods every day and do not drink alcohol excessively. They get a proper amount of sleep and engage in lifestyle habits that foster muscle growth. Building brain power is no different. Diet, lifestyle choices, and physical exercise can either foster or inhibit the process of improving cognitive function. The chapters on lifestyle and diet set the stage for the 90-day regimen. If you do not make changes to your diet and lifestyle the 90-day regimen will improve your cognitive abilities, but you will not achieve your maximum potential.
1. Improving Your Intelligence is Possible After All
2. Lifestyle Strategies to Maximize Brainpower