How Our Brain Cells Determine Our Talents

What is the difference between the brain of the talented and the less?

Why do the top world athletes or musicians start young?

What is the formula of being a Nobel-prize genius?

In one of my articles, ‘The Scientific Difference between Liking & Wanting’, I have mentioned about brain circuits. In this article, I would expand on them. Specifically, how it determines our talent, and how can we use it to improve our skills. Brain circuits consist of a few ‘wires’ we call neurons, which transmit signals from our senses to our brain. From there, the brain processes the information, decides a response and ‘wires’ back the information through another set of circuits to appropriate parts of the body. Like when you are eating hot dogs when you are supposed to be on a diet, and then your friend suddenly comes up to you and say “Hey, why are you eating? Aren’t you on a diet?” The words made its way from your ears to your brain, processes it, decides a response, and sends back signals to your hand, mouth and tongue muscles, throwing away the hot dog and say “Oh no, no, I was just looking through that hot dog. I think it is really hot…uh…the dog…anyway, why are you here?” Your brain tries to change the topic of hot dog to distract your friend. That is our brain, it is smart.

A neuron is like a wire cut off at both ends where at each end will be the shrub of shiny coppers sprouting out from the plastic insulator at the middle. In neurons, these ends are called dendrites on one end, and synaptic knobs on the other. In between those is the long part of the wire we call axon. Most neuron do not have axons long enough to make it all the way to the brain. So the synaptic knobs connect to the dendrites of another neuron by small divisions called synapse (like soldering ends of wires to make it longer) until it reaches the brain. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer a neuron as a ‘wire’, and synapses as ‘wire connector’.

Unlike fishes or worms, most of our wires cannot be grown again after childhood. Logically, the more wires we have, the faster, the more accurate we respond, right? However, the good news is, we can always add more ‘wire connectors’. We do not really have to grow new wires. These wires form basic function, like lifting your hand, or tilting your head (even a baby can do that). Scientists believe that even if we have the brain of a fish, we can still button our shirts! But that is as long as we add wire connectors. Fishes do not have as much wire connectors as in humans hence they do not wear shirts. Adding more wire connectors will strengthen the connection. In science we call this ‘synaptic plasticity’, the strengthening of synaptic connections. A strengthened connection allows you to respond faster, more accurate, and with less effort.

Now here is how wire connectors work:

  1. The more we use the wire, the more wire connectors are built
  2. The more wire connectors there are, the stronger the wire connections
  3. The stronger the wire connections, the faster and more precise the connection signals
  4. The faster and precise the connection signals, the less aware you are that you are using them

Remember, wires are just parts of a circuit. So when a circuit is used, not only one, but a few bunch of wires gets stronger. The last two points are the most profound. It holds the key to our talents, to being an Olympic athlete, a world-class musician, or a Nobel-prize winner. Now let us go back to the questions:

What is the difference between the brain of the talented and the less?

Why do the top world athletes or musicians start young?

What is the formula of being a Nobel-prize genius?

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