Brain plasticity effectively means that you can grow and reshape your brain in just the same way you can reshape your muscle. That in turn means that just as a bodybuilder can increase their muscle size and choose the physique they want, so too can you potentially use brain training to develop key brain areas and to design the kind of intelligence you want.
The general principle behind growing and shaping your brain is the exact same as the general principle behind growing and reshaping muscle. That is SAID: Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. You want better math ability? Then do more math. You want better spatial awareness? Then use that part of your brain.
Most of us don’t look at the brain in that way though. We use brain training in a very general sense and with no real objective.
We also don’t realize the potential of our brains at all. For an idea of just what’s possible, consider cases of individuals like Daniel Underwood, who have managed to develop ‘sonar’ to find their way around and to compensate for a loss of vision. If you can develop your sense of hearing to the point where you can use sonar, then imagine what you could do with other parts of your brain?
Structural differences in the brain certainly do correspond with differences in the nature and extent of human intelligence and there is no better example of this than Einstein’s brain.
Einstein had unusual large inferior parietal lobes which were also strangely shaped. Your brain and my brain have a large cleave cutting through the middle of this structure called the Sylvian Fissure. Interestingly, Einstein’s veered upwards and didn’t completely divide the lobes. His were also symmetrical, whereas most are smaller on the left.
The role of the inferior parietal lobe is to integrate sensory information across modalities. It is particularly important when it comes to spatial sense and navigation.
So, when we listen to Einstein’s accounts of how he came up with his theory of special relativity – by imagining himself to be travelling on a beam of light and looking back at the world around him leading to an innate understanding of the relationship between time and movement… it all kind of makes sense.
What also makes sense is that Einstein had a thicker corpus callosum – a structure that joins the two hemispheres of the brain. This would allow different brain areas to communicate more effectively, thereby leading to greater whole brain connectivity (which we know to be an important predictor of general intelligence). It also follows that Einstein was ambidextrous.
But perhaps making an argument for specialization is the fact that Einstein was probably dyslexic and some rumors claim he didn’t start speaking until the age of four.
The take-home message is that you could theoretically learn to think like Einstein. First by increasing your plasticity, then by practicing visualization and navigation to grow your inferior parietal lobes and perhaps by practicing ambidexterity to grow the corpus callosum.
But great though he was, you should not seek to emulate Einstein. Instead, focus on becoming the very best version of you.
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