Friday, July 23, 2010

The Amazing Shrinking Brain

The most interesting part of the Strengths book may have been the chapter that links human talent to brain development. Or, perhaps I should say, deconstruction. Maybe someone with more of a science background could let me know if this rings true? Here's a slice:
"The brain is an odd organ in that it seems to grow backward... [It] gets very big very quickly and then shrinks and shrinks into adulthood. Most bizarre of all, as your brain becomes smaller and smaller, you become smarter and smarter."
"By the age of three each of your hundred billion neurons has formed fifteen thousand synaptic connections with other neurons."
"But then something strange happens. For some reason nature now prompts you to ignore a lot of your carefully woven threads... By the time you wake up on your sixteenth birthday, half your network is gone."
"It is not true that the more synaptic connections you have the smarter you are or the more effective. Rather, your smartness and effectiveness depend on how well you capitalize on your strongest connections. Nature forces you to shut down billions of connections so that you can be freed up to exploit the ones remaining."
"For example, if you end up with a T1 line for competitiveness, when you see numbers, you can't help using them to compare your performance to other people's. Or if you end up with a T1 line for inquisitiveness you are the kind of person who can't help asking why."
"Or perhaps you have no connection for empathy. Rationally, you understand that empathy is important, but moment by moment you just can't seem to pick up the signals that other people are sending...
"[This] explains why certain behaviors and reactions 'just feel right' to you, while others, no matter how hard you practice, always seem stilted and forced."
From Now, Discover Your Strengths, pp. 51-53

1 comment:

Paul Merrill said...

My *very* ignorant way of stating some of the last part of what you quoted is like this: We are all different. All of our strengths and weaknesses are on spectrums (spectra). Some of our weaknesses are so far down the scale that we have almost no ability to function as "normal" in those areas. But God uses us for His glory anyhow. (And I'm thankful for that.)

The movie "Temple Grandin" - which is not out yet on Netflix - is excellent. Dr. Grandin is autistic but has some outstanding areas in her thought processes - and as a result has contributed to animal science in some truly ground-breaking ways.