To anyone who reads this blog; welcome back to a new series/set of random ideas 🙂
Some of the next few posts I’m doing are going to sound a little bit unusal; so I’ll explain them first. Basically, I’ve got an (admittedly, slightly odd) idea for how the brain might work, or how I’d like it to work anyway, and the next few posts are ideas for how certain weird and interesting things people do would happen in my theory. Unlike the series before, this is really not scientific, and probably nowhere near being right or being useful, but it might be a fun thing to try anyway.
This first post is just the overview of how I’d like the mind to work, as I’ll usually end up referring you (and myself) back to this whenever I explain one of the concepts:
My view of how the brain works (some bits of this are backed up by current psychology, and some are just me thinking a bit too much) is that when we are born we have trillions (or, at least, a really, really big number) of different connections that can be made between specific parts of the brain, and there are many specialised roles these connections will naturally take.
Some of them- such as those forming the basics of movement, balance, and the very first emotional responses such as smiling- are made to be formed very soon after birth. Others-such as language, awareness of other people, and more complicated movement such as walking- develop during the first year but have been primed to be ready since the start.
The problem is that our brains can’t handle of these connections at once; the myths that we only use 10% of our brain are there because it takes so much energy and fuel for our brains to function normally that if we used too much it would have lots of negative effects on us and how we develop. Therefore, while we are developing as babies and children, the energy put into these connections stop being distributed roughly evenly, and starts being focused on the areas we need to be strongest; this is why things like walking, speech, interpreting our senses etc are so effortless for the majority of people, because that’s what is needed the most so developed the most.
Giving more energy to some connections removes the amount that can be given to others, so millions of potential less-important connections will become inactive. This isn’t a problem in childhood, because the mind is so flexible that it can use and activate connections- studies from children with brain injuries show that even damaging one set of important connections won’t be a disaster because the brain can re-route other connections to achieve the same effect.
However, for adults, these unused connections will be left dormant for so long that they can only be re-activated with great difficulty, or even not at all; this is why if adults try to learn, say, a new hobby or a second language, they often find it really difficult. (Unless they already had a talent for that skill or a talent for languages as part of their innate connections, because then it would remain easier to access).
As you can see, my view is kind of a nature-nurture mix; genetics set a blueprint of our potential talents and skills, but our environment, opportunities and choices decide whether we can use that blueprint, and how we develop within it. If anything I’ve said sounds confusing, interesting, or just generally crazy, feel free to ask me about it.