The bottle of wine you and your partner shared last night didn't kill a single neuron in your head and, contrary to what you've been told, you are always using more than 10 percent of your brain. The prevalence of these myths, debunked by Princeton neuroscientist Sam Wang in the video below, prove that though we may be using our minds all the time, the public's understanding of the spongy organ between our ears is still far from complete.
Therefore, in an effort to showcase all that cutting-edge science has discovered about the brain—and all that continues to confound—Big Think is proud to present The Month of Going Mental. Throughout September, Big Think will travel inside our heads, presenting a different feature on the brain each weekday in our new blog called Going Mental. These features will take us from unsolved mental mysteries to the latest breakthroughs in brain research. Every idea in the series will be supported by contributions from leading experts, including neuroscience giants like Antonio Damasio, Jospeh LeDoux, Oliver Sacks, and Stephen Pinker, and every week will focus on a new topic within the expansive field.
WEEK 1: The Brain’s Biggest Mysteries
Neurologists and neuroscientists alike continue to ponder age-old questions about the mind and brain. What is consciousness? What is intelligence? Why do we sleep and dream? To kick off the first week of The Month of Going Mental, Big Think will examine these three greatest mysteries of the mind.
WEEK 2: Abnormal Minds
Before neuroscientists had sophisticated brain-imaging technology, the only way they could learn about the healthy brain was to study damaged or abnormal brains. So aside from being inherently titillating, abnormal psychology has been fundamental to scientists' understanding about the brain. Beginning with the iconic case of Phineas Gage, the second week of The Month of Going Mental will delve into the fascinating world of abnormal psychology, including schizophrenia, psychopathy, and other bizarre disorders of the mind.
WEEK 3: Sex, Drugs, and Neuroscience
This is your brain under the influence—of love, lust, drugs, and religion. The third week of Big Think's The Month of Going Mental will reveal the way the brain's functioning perpetuates religion; the way falling in love amounts to a series of chemical reactions inside our head; and the way that mind-altering substances distort our perception of reality.
WEEK 4: Brainstorms
The fourth week of Big Think's The Month of Going Mental will focus on five of the most fundamental mechanisms of the brain: emotion, memory, decision-making, attention, and language. How do the different areas of the brain give rise to these fascinatingly complex phenomena? This week we will discuss what neuroscientists know up to this point about these mechanisms and also what direction the cutting-edge research is heading.
WEEK 5: Enhancing Your Brain
Modern life taxes the brain in ways it was not taxed mere decades ago. In the final week of The Month of Going Mental we will examine how our brain is coping with the changes of the digital age and what you can do to enhance your mind now and for the future.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.
- Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
- Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
- If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.
- Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
- Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
- The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.