Bible Verse of the Day

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brain Power

THE human brain is one of the most wonderful things in the entire universe. Most of us think of it as a delicate mechanism, which it is; but it is also sturdy and durable, a far more useful tool than is generally realized.

There is no such thing as “mental fatigue” or “brain lag,” The belief that long, concentrated mental effort produces tiredness in the brain itself, is a state cannot exist. Your brain is not like your muscles. Its operations are not muscular but electro-chemical in character, comparable in part to a direct-current wet-cell battery. When your brain appears tired after hours of mental work, the fatigue is almost certainly located in other parts of the body, your eyes, or the muscles of your neck and back. The brain itself can go on almost indefinitely. What seems like mental fatigue is often merely boredom. In reading a difficult book, for example, you are torn between the desire to go on and the impulse to stop. It’s often not fatigue that you feel but inattention and the inability to ignore distracting thoughts.
The brain’s capacity is almost inexhaustible. The part of your brain involved in thinking and memory, and all your conscious activities, has as its most important part 10 or 12 thousand million minute cells. Each of these has a set of tiny tendrils by means of which an electro-chemical message can pass from one cell to another. Thinking and memory are associated with the passage of these electrical currents. The wisest man who ever lived came nowhere near using the full capacity of his wonderful mental storehouse. (Quite possibly, people in general employ only 10 to 15 per cent of their brains’ capabilities.)

How the brain stores its memories is still not fully known. Some scientists believe that each item of memory is contained in a loop of cells connected by tiny tendrils with an electrical current going round and round the loop, which might be hundreds or thousands of cells in length. Other theories suggest that the memory is somehow “etched” on the cell, or exists on a chain of cells like knots in a string. We do know that for the first 30 to 60 minutes after being received, any sensory impression is “floating around” in the brain, not yet firmly registered. This may be why, after blows on the head, people often permanently forget what happened to them during the previous 15 or 20 minutes.
The number of items that can be remembered is far greater than the total number of brain cells. It’s been estimated that after 70 years of activity the brain may contain as many as 15 billion separate bits of information. Thus your memory is a treasure house whose size and strength are almost beyond human comprehension. It is a pity that so many of us store up so much less learning and experience than is possible.
Your I.Q. is less important than you probably think. Many of us have an unnecessary inferiority complex about our I.Q.’s - the figure that represents native intelligence as compared to that of the average individual. Your intelligence, it is true, is a matter of heredity, and changes very little if at all during your life. It is almost impossible to score higher on an intelligence test than your native mental equipment justifies. It is easy, however, to score lower in such a test than you deserve. This might result from temporary ill health or emotional disturbance. So, if you have ever seen your score on an I.Q. test, you can be sure that your I.Q. is at least that high.

Highly intelligent people have good blood circulation to the brain, bearing oxygen, glucose and certain other important chemicals. It is possible that a person with some very special talent - a mathematical or musical genius, for example - may have an unusually thick bundle of nerve fibres in one particular place in the brain.
But the physical endowment of your brain is far less important than what you do with it. The number of brain cells in an individual with an I.Q. of 100 (which is average) is large enough so that, used to the full, it could far exceed the record, so far as memory is concerned, of the greatest genius who ever lived. A person of average intelligence, who industriously stores up knowledge and skills year after year, is better off than a person with a very high I.Q. who refuses to study. What they possess in high degree is character, and the ability to plod ahead until they achieved what they had set out to do.
Age need not prevent your learning. One of the commonest misconceptions about the brain is that as you grow older something happens to it so that further attempts to study are difficult. This is true only to such a minute extent that for most of us it is of no practical importance.
You are born with all the brain cells you will ever have: a few of them die from time to time, and are not replaced. Except in the case of a serious brain disease, however, the numbers that die is negligible. It is true that all old people suffer impairment of their physical powers, and that some experience a decline of mental power. The best current medical opinion is that, in both cases, what happens is a series of minor “accidents” to various parts of our marvellously complicated physiological mechanism. None of these may be serious by itself, but the total effect can be severe. Impairment of the brain in the aged is associated with decreased circulation of the blood and the precious substances it carries, especially oxygen and glucose. This is probably why old people remember happenings of their youth more vividly than those of the recent past; the youthful memories were implanted on the brain when blood circulation was better.
Yet severe mental impairment occurs only in part of the elderly generation. Everyone knows of men and women who are vigorous and alert mentally into the ninth or even the tenth decade of life. Their existence proves that impaired mental powers are not an inevitable accompaniment of the passing years, but a result of disease processes. There is no reason why the average person cannot continue to learn with at least 85 to 90 per cent efficiency through the seventh decade and beyond. It would be a fine thing if retired people went back to school or university or began to learn new skills and subjects. On the false notion that they are “too old to learn” millions of elderly people cut themselves off from exhilarating intellectual adventures.

Your mental powers grow with use. Like the muscular system of the body, the brain tends to atrophy with disuse, and to become better with exercise. This is proved by the fact that if the optic nerve is destroyed early in life, the brain cells in the corresponding visual area of the brain stay undeveloped. As your brain matures, the nerve fibres are surrounded by a fatty substance called myelin, and they do not function properly until this has taken place. A new-born baby lacks most of its myelin, which is one reason why we cannot remember much that happened before we are two or three years old. Many physiologists believe that intensive exercise of any part of the brain encourages the growth of additional all-important myelin.
Anything you do with your brain exercises it, though obviously there is more exercise in doing something difficult than something easy. The more reasoning you do, the easier it is to go on to new reasoning. The ability to memorize also improves with practice. Every aspect of your personality is stored in your brain. This includes your will power, which is also developed by practice. Each time you exert your will to drive yourself to the completion of an unpleasant or irksome task you make it a little easier next time to do what you need to do.
The brain is the storehouse of the unconscious mind. The most wonderful part of your mind is undoubtedly the unconscious, which lies below the recoverable memory and is thousands of times larger. We don’t know that much about the unconscious mind, but we are learning fast and some day may know how to tap its great powers. Your unconscious mind contains many millions of past experiences that, so far as your conscious mind knows, are lost for ever. By means of several devices we now know how to bring back lost memories. One method is “free association,” used’ by psychiatrists. If a patient lets his mind wander at will, it can give him clues to forgotten things which, if they are skillfully pursued by a practitioner, will bring up whole networks of lost ideas and forgotten terrors. There are certain drugs which also help in this process; hypnotism, too, can be of tremendous value in exploring a person’s unconscious mind.

Many psychologists believe that we can make more use of our unconscious minds. Innumerable people have found that they can profitably “talk to” their unconscious. Some people find that they can bid themselves to wake up at a certain time in the morning. You can sometimes even improve your tomorrow’s mood if you will say to yourself when you go to bed - and believe it - that you will be more cheerful in the morning.
Your brain may be described (with severe over-simplification) as having three parts: the upper, the middle and the lower. The lower section is where the automatic functions of the brain are performed - keeping the blood and lungs functioning, for-instance. The mid-brain participates in these operations but also serves as a bridge, to pass messages on to the upper brain or cerebral cortex, the top part of the brain which holds the single characteristic which most strongly separates man from animal.
The earliest living organisms on the earth had only a trace of the upper brain, or none at all; as we come down through evolution, the proportion steadily increases, which is why the upper is called the “new brain.” Even the highest of the primates, the chimpanzee and the gorilla, have at most only one third as much upper brain as a human. While we have been developing the new brain, we have, of course, retained all the characteristics of the old. When certain areas inside your skull are electrically stimulated, you will bite and scratch like an animal. To some extent, the old brain represents ruthless egotism, while the new is the seat of elaborate abstract concepts like honour, high spirits and beauty. Growing up represents the triumph of the new brain over the old.

 Deep emotion in the old brain can blot out the circuits in the new brain which represent reason and foresight. The man who commits a murder in a sudden rage knows, with his new brain, that he is likely to be caught and punished, but he does not think of these things until his passion has subsided.
We must not, of course, try to live by the intellect alone or reject the legitimate and important demands of the emotions. Pushing down into the unconscious a legitimate emotional impulse can only cause it to fester there. We must, however, try to keep the old brain and the new in proper proportion to each other, remembering that when either gets the upper hand too completely the human being cannot properly fulfill his destiny.
Aren't GOD's creations just absolutely amazing?!!