The Beautiful Brain- The science of becoming a genius overnight
Can you see with your skin? Can you see with your tongue?
Answer- No, of course not. You see with your eyes. You taste with your tongue. Absolutely not possible.
Very, very simply. In order to see, receptors in the eye capture a signal. This signal is transported, via specific nerves and pathways, to the occipital lobe (see below). The Occipital Lobe translates and interprets this signal. This is similar for taste.
Receptors in the tongue capture a signal, which is then transported to a specific part of the brain by unique nerves. The taste area then interprets this signal. This area of the brain is separate from the part of the brain for vision. There is an overlap between the parts of the brain involved in taste and smell. The interpretation of the other senses, occur in completely separate parts of the brain.
There is no overlap in this initial processing. The sensory organs are different, the pathways are different, the parts of the brain are different.
So, can you see with your tongue?
BrainPort has found a way to do this. This is where the brain becomes fascinating. The device does not result in normal vision, but sight is possible.
How does it do this?
People using this device, wear glasses with a camera attached to them. This camera captures images. These images are changed to an electrical signal, where a lollipop-like device allows the tongue to feel these signals. This is described as feeling ‘like champagne bubbles’. Signals are then carried to the brain, presumably by the same nerves that carry taste, and are interpreted as visual signals would be. Specific patterns of electrical stimulation will represent specific objects. Some training is needed in order to interpret these patterns- in terms of size, shape and motion.
How is this possible?
This is not completely understood. It may be that new pathways develop between parts of the brain responsible for different sensations, or that these networks become active when using a devices like this. The visual part of the brain may process other sensations, such as taste or hearing, particularly in people who are blind. Due to the plastic nature of the brain, new pathways develop when blind. This device is by no means a magic cure, and there are many that have failed, but it reveals a hidden potential of the brain.
The brain is capable of so much more that we would, ordinarily, consider impossible.
Synaesthesia is a sensation caused by stimulation of an unrelated sense organ. For example, it is the ability to feel or taste a colour, or to hear an apple. Daniel Tammet discusses his unique abilities, and how it changes his perception of the world. Again, this points to the incredible potential of the brain. Is it inherited? Can it be developed as an adult? Can you learn to taste colours?
Synaethesia can be learned. It is not the same when developed as an adult but it is possible. It may have a role in improving memory.
Can you become a genius overnight?
There is a phenomenon known as acquired Savant syndrome. People have developed extraordinary abilities, after head trauma, or some form of injury to the brain. These acquired abilities (ranging from musical to mathematical abilities), occur without any training, before or after the event. It appears that a genius potential was unmasked by damage to the brain. In his incredible talk, Jason Padgett describes how an attack changed his life in many unexpected ways, and how math saved his life. He was a below average student, had no known mathematical skill, and is now a math genius.
Why does this happen?
Why is damage to the brain associated with a skill?
Why does this happen in select people?
Does this make you wonder about your potential?
Are you a gifted painter, or singer, or physicist? Am I?
Are you charmed by the beauty of the brain?
In trying to understand how & why we do what we do, from memory and math, to reading and painting, to falling in love, I have become even more charmed by the beautiful brain. I am in awe of the science, and the scientists revealing such fascinating aspects of the brain. Are you?
As always, remember that simple lifestyle measures can protect your beautiful brain. Sleep, exercise, spending time with people you love & stimulating your brain, can improve your memory. As important, a poor diet and smoking, can harm your memory.
I hope this gets you thinking about how your brain works, and inspires you to explore your untapped potential.
Let me know what hidden talents you discover.
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