Why highly intelligent people suffer from more mental and physical disorders

Your brain's heightened sensitivity can make you perceptive and creative. But it's a double-edged sword, researchers find.

Image source: Edvard Munch, The Scream c. 1893

People with high IQ are considered to have an advantage in many domains. They are predicted to have higher educational attainment, better jobs, and a higher income level. Yet, it turns out that a high IQ is also associated with various mental and immunological diseases like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD as well as allergies, asthma, and immune disorders. Why is that? A new paper published in the journal Intelligence reviews the literature and explores the mechanisms that possibly underlie this connection.

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UNESCO Preserves the Works of One of the Greatest Minds in Human History

This polymath's papers—full of personal and scientific revelations—have joined the World Register.

A stamp printed in Laos from the "Space Exploration " issue shows Isaac Newton and Lunokhod 2, circa 1984.

The UNESCO International Memory of the World Register has recently added another batch of genius to its collection of documents: the papers, diaries, books, and notes of Sir Isaac Newton, thereby helping to preserve for all time the works of one of the greatest minds in human history.

Wait, who added what?

The UNESCO Memory of the World Program is a programmed dedicated to the preservation of and access to the documentary heritage of the world. The program has existed since 1992 and has discovered, preserved, and exhibited countess documents of vital importance to the heritage of mankind since then, including the papers of Winston Churchill, the telegram Austria-Hungary sent to declare war on Serbia, and The Wizard of Oz.

So, why add Newton’s stuff?

Isaac Newton discovered and formulated the law of gravity, the classical laws of motion, the nature of color and optics, and invented calculus in his spare time. He invented the reflecting telescope, determined why the planets don’t move in perfect circles, and he later went on to invent the little indentations around the side of coins when he was the master of the mint for Great Britain. His contributions to science are nearly impossible to overstate.

And don’t take my word for it; Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson explains here why Newton is the greatest physicist of all time.

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4 geniuses whose brains were studied by science—and what they reveal

Here are four great brains from great minds, and how they differ from yours.

 

A picture shows a picture and model of Albert Einstein's brain on display during a preview of the Wellcome Collection's major new exhibition 'Brains: mind of matter' in London on March 27, 2012. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Many people have wondered about the minds of great thinkers. What must Einstein have been thinking when he sat down at his piano and came to the conclusions that gave us relativity? How does such a fantastic mind work? For neuroscientists, who view mental activity as brain activity, some of their curiosity can be satisfied by studying the brains of great thinkers and seeing how they differ from the normal brain.

Now, brain morphology does not always correlate to behavioral differences. The findings listed below may have little to no meaning at all. Brain shape can be altered by things such as daily motor skill practice or dementia. The current data suggests that brain morphology has at most a modest effect on overall intelligence. In some cases, a larger brain makes for lower functionality. This should be kept in mind when reading about these differences between the brain of these geniuses and the average joe.

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What the early life of Steve Jobs can teach us about success

This infographic, by Anna Vital from Funders and Founders, recaps the significant moments of Steve Jobs’ journey on, and sometimes off, the path of success. 

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is one of the most admired and admonished figures of the technological age. With his razor sharp focus on his work, continuous quest for perfection, unapologetic behavior, selfishness at times, seeming disregard for the feelings of others, and absolute dedication to his life's work, he is like the hero of an Ayn Rand novel. His life, character, achievements and failures are repeatedly debated by admirers and critics alike.

Jobs' path was not straightforward, winding through Indian ashrams, unfinished education, psychedelic experiences, companies found and positions lost. But as Jobs himself says:

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

No matter what Jobs did, however—starting companies, looking for spiritual answers, winning over the woman he loved—he did it fully.

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

"I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what's next." (NBC Nightly News, May 2006.)

And his main approach for doing things well, probably rooted in his affinity for Buddhism, was always looking for simplicity, stripping ideas, problems, products to their core, looking for that one, simple, clean essence of things.

"That's been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."

Finally, we should emphasize over and over again, that probably the biggest common denominator between incredibly successful people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Bill Gates is simply their incredible perseverance and refusal to quit when faced with failure.

"Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.[…] It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith."

The following infographic by Anna Vital from Funders and Founders recaps the significant moments of Steve Jobs' life for a bit of inspiration and insight into his success.

Our Cult of Achievement Is Crushing the Genius Out of People

Humans worship at the altar of excellence, but is our complete obsession with this "quality controlled" mode of intellect holding us back?

We want our surgeons to be excellent. We wants our classical music performers to be excellent. But do we really want excellence everywhere? This is the provocative line of thought economist and mathematician Eric Weinstein is currently chasing. We've figured out how to reliably teach excellence, which is useful — but there is a trade-off. Individuals and education institutions become hyper-focused on cutting variant individuals to a certain shape, pushing them into a mold so they can passably imitate the "excellent" population, but not really perform. "The key question is: who are these high-variance individuals? Why are our schools filled with dyslexics? Why are there so many kids diagnosed with ADHD? My claim is these are giant underserved populations who are not meant for the excellence model." To that end, Weinstein suggests that the label of 'learning disabled' is severely misguided. Perhaps we should call this phenomenon what it more accurately is: a teaching disability. How much genius is squandered by muting the strengths of these populations?