How to develop the hidden abilities of the brain?

The Secrets of Thinking: can you train your brain and become a genius?

The human brain – the most complex and perfect mechanism. It turns out that each of us in the head is the real power plant. The energy of the brain is 100 thousand times more energy of the sun in terms of density per kilogram of mass. Scientists have calculated: if all 10 billion neurons of the brain are discharged simultaneously, there will be more than 5 million volts. The brain can create illusions, it deceives vision, the world is not really what it seems. How to use the full potential of the brain? Is it possible to become superhuman or a genius? And how to train the intellect? Experts of the program “How the world works” with Timofey Bazhenov on REN TV told about it.

Secrets of the brain

On July 13, 1978, researcher Anatoly Bugorsky of the Institute of High Energy Physics of the Soviet Union happened to be in the path of the gas pedal’s main proton beam while repairing the synchrophasotron. The protons pierced through the left hemisphere of his brain, causing a real explosion, a flash that was brighter than the sun.

The skin was left with a burnt track from the passage of the proton beam and deep scars forever. What was there to hope for? But Bugorsky didn’t just survive, a true miracle occurred. He fully retained his intelligence. True, after the accident the left side of the poor scientist’s face paralyzed as after a stroke, but the right side not only stopped aging, but even rejuvenated. The flying beam of protons destroyed every nerve in its path.

The brain is 70% water and 15% fat, the rest being salt and protein. The brain is the fattest organ in our body. There is almost a kilogram of fat in the brain. If the brain consisted only of water, we would simply be killed by its own current, because the brain neurons are under constant voltage – about 70 millivolts each. The energy of thought is carried by nerve cells, or neurons. The electricity that all the neurons in the human brain generate could be enough to charge a cell phone.

Why is the brain divided into two halves?

“Everything is a number,” Pythagoras once declared. British experts at Imperial College London determined that the brain counts and adds up numbers. The right hemisphere processes small numbers, and the left hemisphere handles large numbers.

The human brain is divided into two halves for a reason. The right hemisphere is responsible for the left side of the body and the left hemisphere, on the other hand, is responsible for the right side of the body. The brain makes a decision 30 seconds before a person is aware of the decision. But there are phenomenal deviations from the norm, such as photographic memory – the ability to remember tons of information without thinking it through. Or calculate, as one Indian woman did, complex problems literally in seconds. Such people are called geniuses.

The brain feels no pain, which is why no painkillers are taken during brain surgery. However, the head itself feels pain, and to get rid of it, you need to give orders to yourself not to feel the discomfort, but to enjoy it. For example, if a person is afraid of nettle burns, they turn out to be extensive and blisters form, but if he has struggled with this feeling, there will be practically no marks.

How do you become a genius?

Each person’s brain receives the same number of neurons at birth – about 86 billion. So all people are born with the same capabilities. Why, then, are some people smarter than others? It turns out that every brain loves to learn. Every time the brain learns something new, a new neural connection is made. The more we learn about how the world works, the more synapses are formed.

Most people in the world have a brain with an average weight of 1-1.2 kilograms. The smallest brains are endowed with indigenous Australians, the heaviest brain weighed 2.85 kg. A person who carried such a brain in his head, logically, should boast of incredible mental abilities, but in reality he suffered from an extreme form of oligophrenia.

Size does not matter

The famous French writer Anatole France had a brain slightly larger than a kilogram. The brilliant Russian writer Ivan Turgenev surpassed all writers in the world by brain weight, his brain was 2 kilograms 12 grams. As you can see, any size brain is not a hindrance to a great mind.

Proved, all know-how only comes to the mind of prepared minds. Mendeleev’s table was not just a dream. The great scientist worked on this discovery for a long time. Dmitri Ivanovich’s brain kept thinking all the time. It just clicked there one day. According to legend, it happened in his sleep and, most likely, in the morning. At this time, the front lobe of the brain has the highest activity.

“If a person is thinking more, they will have amplification in the front lobes, and it depends on the type of activity. The mind and the brain are two different subjects, two different programs,” noted writer, esotericist Elena Voronova.

Litmus test of intelligence

There is a scientific assumption that the structure of the universe resembles a system of neurons in the brain. Matter from different galaxies in it interacts with each other, evolving and growing. Researchers are confident that the similarity is not accidental, and believe that brain systems and the grand Universe develop according to the same natural laws.

A sense of humor is one indicator of intelligence. Stephen Hawking was one of the most famous scientists of our day, his films about the cosmos are mesmerizing. Stephen explained the most complex theories simply and easily. His sense of humor never left him. Staying in a wheelchair, he joked that paralysis helped him think, and that the disease shackled his body but freed his brain.

“Stephen Hawking always rode in a wheelchair and was silent, and his brain worked the whole time. He spoke instead, which the researchers found out from the recordings of special machines,” said Victor Melentiev, president of the Association of Independent Analysts.

Revealing all the mysteries of the brain, we should not consider its main purpose only to remember information. Of course, the brain performs this function, but its capabilities are much wider than just the ability to put information on a shelf. The brain is the ultimate generator.

Why does a wounded finger hurt immediately? It has to do with the extremely fast movement of nerve impulses from the brain to parts of the body. Their speed is about 273 kilometers per hour, like a Formula One car.

How do you develop intellectual abilities?

Is it possible to see another person’s consciousness? It turns out it is possible. Siamese twins Hogan connected heads, they have one brain for two, so the sisters can read each other’s thoughts. If one girl closes her eyes and puts an object in front of the other, the sister who has her eyes closed will be able to describe it accurately.

The more a person develops his brain, the less likely he is to get the disease. Any activity stimulates the emergence of new tissue. Can the brain be trained to work until old age?

The capacity of the brain in electronic terms is about 1,000 terabytes, making human memory impressively capacious. Meanwhile, the brain takes about 20% of all energy from the body. That’s a lot, and so working the brain is not just a figure of speech, but really a lot of work.

“These are the cells that are the energy resource. It’s our nuclear reactor, the thermonuclear reactor of our brain that makes everything stir and excite,” said neurophysiologist and psychiatrist Sergei Vladislavov.

Michelangelo depicted the creator in the creation fresco of Adam as the source of the mind literally – in the form of the brain.

“The human body and the brain are one big serious program. Neither can exist without the other. Improving the brain is useless if you don’t improve your skills and capabilities, you need to improve the professional basis of your life. The more powerfully we participate in the life of the body, the better our brain will work”, – said Elena Voronova.

Man’s master.

The brain embeds us in the world around us, and we only guess about it. Think back to your childhood – you leave your room and all the toys come to life. Or the inexplicable fear of the dark – you never know what’s going on when you can’t see anything. The brain jokes with us, deceives us, proves its superiority, and as if to emphasize that it exists separately from the person.

Each person’s brain creates its own author’s version of the world around us. Will we ever see the world as it really is? And is the brain ready to accept it? It controls all of our lives and loves to learn. No modern scientist can unravel all its possibilities, which is why there are so many myths and hypotheses surrounding it.

More about how the world works, the most interesting facts and stories in the program “How the world works” with Timofey Bazhenov.

Cognitive abilities: how and why to train your brain permanently

The fact that the brain is a “muscle” that also needs to be trained has long been known. It is proved [1] that people who have been actively engaged in mental work during their life, for example, when teaching at the university, face dementia less often or it comes to them much later. Special attention to the “pumping” of cognitive abilities began to be paid [2] after the first waves of the pandemic, when it was discovered that coronavirus infection affects attention and memory, reduces mental alertness and provokes Alzheimer’s disease.

Neuroplasticity allows us to develop the cognitive functions of the brain both when we are young and in adulthood or even old age. This allows us to learn continuously, master languages, excel at work, and simply live our daily lives full of challenges and puzzles.

What is cognitive ability

Cognitive abilities are the skills of the brain to assimilate and process information about the world around us. They include memory, attention, cognitive flexibility, imagination, speech, reasoning ability, and sensory perception. Cognitive abilities distinguish humans from animals; they are necessary for survival and development. They allow us to remember the way from home to work, to read documents thoughtfully, to cook dinner at the same time, and to communicate with family members.


Attention is the ability to concentrate on a task for a long time, even if there are distractions around or if you are doing several tasks at once. This skill is especially valued by employers, who often look for multi-taskers who are productive in a hectic environment.

Distributed attention is responsible for the ability to concentrate on different things, such as listening to a teacher, looking at the blackboard and taking notes on a lecture at the same time. Focused attention allows you to concentrate on only one stimulus or action.

Inhibition or inhibitory control helps us keep our concentration on something by ignoring or suppressing external factors. Inhibition ensures that we are not distracted by the phone while we are studying important material, that we do not get up in the middle of a meeting because our feet are stiff, and that we do not suddenly interrupt a speaker if a question arises.

Attention is directly related to our memory. If you can’t concentrate properly on information, you can’t remember it and you can’t reproduce it. Problems with concentration lead to frequent mistakes, untimely completion of projects, conflicts in the team, if you do not listen attentively to the interlocutor and did not show proper participation.


Memory allows us to reproduce experiences and impressions from the past, recalling signs of objects and phenomena, poems, formulas, recipes, birthdays and other information that goes to the brain.

Imagine riding your bicycle past people, signs, houses, and cars. You fixate on these objects, but you forget about them in half a second because you don’t need that information. That’s how instant memory works. And if you can hold an image of a passerby in your mind for 30 seconds, then your working memory is short-term. It’s what helps us keep up a conversation without losing the essence of it, and it helps us read a book without losing the plot.

Short-term memory gives us access to long-term memory. That same passerby may enter its abodes if he surprised you, caused bright associations and emotions. The likelihood that you will remember this person for a long time will increase if every day you will meet him on your route.

Memory affects our ability to navigate space, ride a bike years later without practice, drive a car, keep the names of co-workers in mind, and nostalgia for the old days decades later.

Cognitive Flexibility

Cognitive flexibility allows you to adapt to new conditions, quickly change strategy, and look for alternative solutions to a problem. Cognitive flexibility comes in handy when you need to think of a non-standard way out of a situation, switch from one activity to another, endure failure and work through mistakes.

Run out of oatmeal for breakfast? Cognitive flexibility will keep you from going to work hungry and help you come up with another meal. Accident and traffic jam on your usual route? A person with flexible thinking will find a new route and make it to an important meeting. A colleague argues and holds an opinion different from yours? A flexible mind has made you tolerant, agile, and now you can stand in the place of your opponent, learn new information for yourself and find a compromise.

If a person has difficulty adapting to a new environment and cannot move away from the way he is used to, this indicates cognitive regicide. Such a person will look for oatmeal until he or she realizes that he or she is late, stays in traffic, and argues with a co-worker, vehemently defending his or her point of view. Cognitive regidency tends to take over, as the human brain seeks stability, certainty, and security. That is why it is easier to stick to an established model of behavior than to recalibrate a strategy and step into the unknown. But it is worth remembering that running away from any changes and otherness is fraught with unpleasant consequences – inefficiency at work, frequent stresses and low living standards.

Auditory and Visual Processing

Auditory and visual processing allows you to interpret any information you receive through images or sounds. The brain processes such signals at lightning speed. The sound of an ambulance siren is easily recognized and triggers an alarm. A red traffic light calls you to slow down at an intersection. A rapidly approaching car hints at the same thing.

The world around us is filled with audible and visual signals, and if a person loses the ability to perceive them, the brain loses some of its information about the world. A visually impaired child cannot see from the blackboard and does not understand some of the material, a hearing impaired person cannot hear the bell of a cyclist approaching from behind. The appearance of the interlocutor, his facial expressions, gestures, manner of speech and voice can tell a lot about him without words. A frowning eyebrow, jerking movements and loud remarks of the boss will certainly adjust your plan of action if you came in to ask for a raise.

Speed of information processing

It takes time to grasp and process information. Some solve problems faster, some slower – and that doesn’t say anything about a person’s mental capacity, but it does set a certain pace in their life. A person who needs more time to read, calculate, reason logically, and make a decision simply takes longer, but no less quality. The speed of information perception, if necessary, can be “pumped up” and make the computational processes in the head easier, freer, which certainly helps us in learning and work.

How cognitive skills change

As a rule, cognitive skills are most active in childhood, when the brain is more malleable and effortlessly builds new pathways in neural networks. That’s why it’s so often said that it’s easy to learn new things in childhood. But this is not a verdict for adults at all.

Yes, as people get older their memory deteriorates [3] and their information processing speed slows down [4]. After 30 years old people become more conservative, their worldview is formed, the experience protects them from mistakes, and without them there is almost no development.

Nevertheless, constant learning and openness to new horizons, according to the report of the International Economic Forum “The Future of Jobs”. [5], remain the most in-demand skills these days.

The natural decline in cognitive abilities can be controlled through education. The University of California conducted an experiment [6] – they offered older subjects 15 hours a week (bachelor’s load) to learn Spanish, photography, drawing, music and iPad functions. Over the course of three months, the older students’ short-term memory and mental flexibility improved to the level of 30-year-olds and younger participants in the experiment.

It turns out that learning is especially useful as we get older. Education allows you to develop cognitive skills, and cognitive skills help you learn more effectively.

How to improve your cognitive skills

1. Engage in physical activity.

Scientists have proven [7] that 30 minutes of aerobic and strength training a day improves brain function by 5-10%. Sports oxygenate the blood and make your heart beat faster, which increases activity of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Good old-fashioned physical activity is good for your body, your mind, and your mental faculties.

2. Get enough sleep

Before an exam or any other important event, we are often advised to get a good night’s sleep, and for good reason. When we sleep, our brain recovers and in the morning we are ready for intellectual exploits again. Lack of sleep, in turn, causes loss of concentration and attention. Sleep 7-9 hours every day and try to go to bed at least until midnight to get the most benefit from a night’s rest.

3. Reduce your stress levels.

When you’re stressed, it’s hard to concentrate on a task, remember important information, and fixate on new information. Under chronic, constant stress, cognitive abilities decline even faster. Try to eliminate sources of tension and anxiety, meditate, take up breathing practices, or see a psychologist to achieve mental balance and make progress in your studies or work.

4. Maintain and develop social connections

In The Resilient Brain, Sanjay Gupta, M.D. and neurosurgeon, notes that people with a tight social circle are more likely to have sleep and immune system disorders, and loneliness in old age leads to dementia faster. People who lead an active social life, on the contrary, note an improvement in their cognitive abilities.

Especially important is not the number of friends and acquaintances, but the quality of communication with them. Close relationships and a strong emotional connection help reduce stress levels and improve mental skills. Researchers recommend playing team games, meeting more often with loved ones, attending hobby clubs, volunteering, and getting a pet.

5. Play intellectual games

Games for the brain – not a panacea, but they can help keep your memory, perception, thinking, speed and quality of information processing. There are many exercises and techniques on the web that you can practice for a few minutes every day. Puzzles, mnemotechniques, and attention tasks are a great way to pass the time on the bus or on a break at work or to relax with friends or family. Such games are offered by NeuroNation [8], Wikium [9], BrainApps [10] and Cognifit [11].

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