Wanna be a Genius? Practice, Practice, Practice!

March 7, 2007

It’s always heartening to hear about how genius is within the reach of everyone. I know, I just came off of saying how I need to come more down to earth. And yes, I do. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to slop up all the neuroscience research that I can. Especially when it makes me feel empowered.

Now, you might now expect me to find my inspiration from this source. It’s a NY Times article about how Russia raises its tennis e-hott… er, I mean, elite! I know. Me and tennis balls would be a deadly combination. Namely for me. But just hold on.

The article goes WAY into depth about something that every human being should be interested in: the myelination. Because it might just be the difference between me and, well, to be alliterative, Mozart.

Myelination helps to put myelin around the nerve cells in our brain so that they can carry current better. Better current = faster + stronger connection = better action in the real world [PS – I probably killed some sort of physics term in there somewhere; but damnit, I got the biochemistry right!]. As you use a nerve more, more myelin coats it, and it becomes more efficient at carrying the message.

Or in other words, practice makes perfect. Okay, not exactly new news to just about anyone. But still pretty cool. Because now you know WHY something happens. And for me, the why makes all the difference.

So, what makes Einstein a genius and me a schmoe? Myelination. His ability to visualize, to fantasize, to imaginize comes more or less solely from his myelinations. The difference between him being a patent office clerk and a brilliant physicists? Hours of reading, writing, and ruminating on the subject. In other words, hours of chances to get his brain myelinated.

Brilliant. Literally. I don’t know if this is the be all and end all of talent. Trained talent. Because of course there is some innate talent. Let’s not get too PC and think that “everyone’s equal.” But at the same time, we all have so much [cliche alert!] ‘untapped potential’ that we just aren’t using. And all it would take to get to it is myelination. And in practical terms, practice!

So, if you want to become the next Jimmie Hendrix, whip out that guitar. The next Isaac Newton, start knocking around some of the greatest physical problems of all time. The next George W. Bush, start doing coke off the blade of a knife. Okay, maybe we don’t want to be that last one so much…

I hope this post myelated your brains some!



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