Neuroscience of intelligence and how you can go about increasing your intelligence from a theoretical standpoint.
The brain is sort of interconnected web of neurons, which we collectively refer to as your connectome, it is made from billions of connections, each of these neurons represents:
Other neurons have different jobs, for instance, there are those that have the role of storing memories. These light up when we recall things that happened to us in the past. Now, others might make us feel happy or sad. Others might represent aspects of our personality, or ideas.
These are grouped into clusters in the brain, or into regions of the brain, which is why brain damage can end up knocking out very specific abilities, or altering our personalities.
And at any given time, multiple brain areas will be active, represented the way in which your brain is being used. So you might have activity in your visual cortex because you are processing the things around you.
But you might also have activity in your hippocampus relating to memories. These memories are associated with things you’re seen. And you might have activity in your pre frontal cortex as you make plans as to what you are about to do.
So in other words, you might see a duck. And this might register as a representation of a duck in your mind’s eye. That causes a certain pattern of neurons to fire, and those action potentials. That’s the technical term for these electrical charges.
These will then travel down the axons to related concepts that are connected. These include the likes of memories you might have about ducks, opinions about ducks, or even duck facts might even conjure up Donald Duck.
But only when enough activity surrounds your duck cluster of neurons. Will those actually light up and only then will your experience a memory or a thought of the Donald Duck character for instance.
Let’s talk about neural transmitters. So these neurons are connected via long tails and branches called axons and dendrites, they don’t actually come into physical contact with one another.
But rather, they come very close to touching, and leave just a very slight gap called the synapse. When one neuron fires, it causes all of the surrounding neurons to become very excited. And when neurons pass a certain excitement threshold, then they fire to.
Neurons can become excited But they really only have two states, on or off. What’s less binary, though, is the signal that they send and receive. And this is where neural transmitters come in.
Neural transmitters are chemicals that exist in the brain that effectively add colour and nuance to the communications happening across your brain.
These act like hormones in that they are able to change our mood, and change the way we feel about something. The difference is that they have a much shorter lifespan, and that they act on the brain specifically.
An example is dopamine. Dopamine is an stimulatory neurotransmitter, which means that it makes us more aroused and more awake. And it increases the chances of neurons firing.
When dopamine is released in a part of the brain, which causes us to become more focused on whatever is happening right there. Because it tells us that thing is important and worthy of our attention.
At the same time, dopamine increases our likelihood of remembering that event, because it makes connections in the brain more likely to form.
And finally, dopamine makes us more likely to remember things that happened, and more likely to stay motivated.
Dopamine is often described as the reward transmitter. But it would be more accurate to say that it is released in anticipation of a reward.
Other neurotransmitters include the likes of:
All these change the way we subjectively experience the world. And they impact on the nature of the physical change that occurs within the brain.
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