How the brain works - Your brain is a massively powerful organ that we’re only just beginning to understand. These days we’re want to compare the brain to a computer, but there’s really no comparison.
How Does the Brain Work Anyway?
The most powerful computer in the world as of late 2011 had all the computing power of the brain of a flatworm. And you and I are a little more advanced than that flatworm, right?
But there’s an even larger difference between the brain and a computer, and that’s the way the brain "links" up together. You see, your brain has between 15 billion and 33 billion neurons (brain cells) in it – and each of those neurons has connections to its neighbors.
Through the splitting of its axon and dendrites, a neuron may have over 1000 branches reaching out of it – including some up to 3 feet in length, believe it or not – and tens of thousands of connections with other neurons. Even neurons that have only a pair of dendrites will still tend to have thousands of connections, simply from other neurons connecting with them.
Your brain works by forming and strengthening neural pathways. The more often a pathway is used, the more connections the neurons along that pathway create, and the stronger the tendency for the brain to use that pathway becomes.
Pathways that are largely unused, conversely, undergo a process called “pruning” – this is where connections are
sheared away from lack of use.
As an analogy, think of a path in the forest. The one that’s tread more often gets worn and easy to follow; the one that’s tread far less so grows over and eventually effectively disappears.
What happens to most people’s minds as they grow up? Well, for most, they:
- Learn how they think the world works, and stop questioning it
- Learn what their place in the world is, and stop trying to define it
- Learn who and what they are, and stop wondering about that
- Learn everything they think they need to know, and largely stop learning
Now imagine the impact this has on the brain’s ability to solve new problems and crack tough cases usually. It isn't pretty.
Writers, prophets, and inventors disagree on a lot of things, but one of the few things they all agree on universally is that one should retain the mind of a child.
What does this mean?
It means that people should stay curious, and stay trying to figure things out.
The reason why is because it is the curious among us who determine how others should think the world works, who open up new places in the world for others to inhabit, who define who and what people can be, and who reveal the new information that others incorporate into their understanding.
In other words, if you want success, and you want to be at the forefront of anything, you need to be the one figuring things out, solving problems, and deconstructing mysteries – not one of the ones waiting around for someone else to do that for him.
And if you’re not, the ability dries up fast.
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