Sunday, October 6, 2013

Connected brilliance

A recent article in the journal of Brain hypothesizes that the unusual level of high connectivity between the left and right hemispheres of Einstein's brain may have contributed to his brilliance. If true, this has implications for many areas including childhood brain exercising and education in general.

Typical designs of the human brain seem to promote hemispherical specialization. This may be an unintentional effect of evolution that may have afforded an advantage to being good in one activity or another. If the objective functions of the individual and society are relatively simple, optimal brain design may be dominated by specialization. After all, it is possible to create an efficient hunting group by assembling spotting, throwing and carrying skills in separate individuals. This seem to have continued in the modern world even in the presence of somewhat more complicated needs.

Education systems that stress focus may create highly specialized individuals, akin to robots that possess a limited, albeit being efficient, skill set. As the information and knowledge needs of society increase, there is a natural push toward specialization. However, education systems that cater to this trend are trading off creating individuals with the ability to transform the world to those who can efficiently work in it.

Education systems providing whole brain content may be able to provide a desirable software connectivity overlay to ordinary brains. It is not realistic to expect another Einstein but perhaps universities can devise ways to incrementally improve what they are provided with.