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THE MIND MACHINE?

Although intelligence has been studied, and the brain has been studied, there is little understanding of how the brain works to produce intelligence. This has something to do with the fact that the brain contains around 100 billion cells (about the number of stars in the Milky Way).

One of the continuing myths about the relationship between intelligence and the brain is that the brains of very clever people are somehow physically different from those of ordinary people. At the beginning of the century an American scientist called EA. Spitzka produced a list of the weights of the brains of important, well-known men. The heaviest brain on the list was that of Turgenev, the Russian novelist, at 2000g. However, the brain of another great genius, Walt Whitman, weighed only 1282g.

There are no significant differences between the intelli­gence levels of males and females. However, girls under seven score a little higher than boys in IQ tests and the highest IQ recorded is that of Marylin vos Savant at 230. However, men and women do differ in the way they think. Generally, women are more skilled verbally and men do better on visual-spatial tasks.

Interestingly, the fibres which join the two halves of the brain have been found to be larger in women than in men. This supports the theory that women can change from 'practical' to 'emotional' thinking-more quickly than men.

People with mental problems have often been treated extremely badly. Two hundred years ago, the mentally ill were swung around in revoking chairs, or holes were drilled in their skulls to release evil spirits. From the 1930s, the mentally ill were subjected to electric shock therapy and lobotomy - the removal of part of their brain. In the 1960s and 70s, thousands of people were given drugs to cope with anxiety and then became addicted to them.

The brain needs ten times as much blood as other organs of the body, as it can't store glucose for later use. This is different to muscles and other organs and although the adult brain makes up only two per cent of the body weight, its oxygen consumption is twenty per cent of the body’s total.

There are similarities between brains and computers. Computers can do complicated calculations at incredible speeds. But they work in a fixed way, because they can't make memory associations. If we need a screwdriver and there isn't one, we will think laterally and use a knife or coin instead. Computers can't do this. In fact, it is claimed that when it comes to seeing, moving and reacting to stimuli, no computer can compete with even the brain power of a fly.

Most of our mental processes are deeply formed habits. Challenging your brain to do things differently helps it develop. Try changing routines as often as you can: take a bus instead of going by car, sit in a different chair. An extreme but useful exercise is to read something upside down — you can actually feel your brain at work.

Exercise more. Good health and fitness levels give you overall improved energy which leads to better concentration.



Cooking is a good all-round mental exercise. It needs mathematical, organisational and scientific skills as well as challenging memory and creative ability. Use recipes at first and then learn to guess amounts, combinations, reactions of ingredients and timing.

Do puzzles and play games. Teach yourself to work out codes and expand your vocabulary at the same time.(2840)


Date: 2015-01-29; view: 1232


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