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Prof. Duch: we can not use one hundred percent of the brain

05.03.2012 History&Culture

The human brain can not be used in one hundred percent. But the potential of this organ can be increased, especially during the time when the brain develops most intensively, in the first year of life - said Prof. Włodzisław Duch at TEDx conference in Poznań.
Prof. Włodzisław Duch is an expert in cybernetics at the Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. His lecture was titled "How to fully develop human potential? Time to deal with brains".

"There is a widespread belief that we use only 5 or 10 percent of our brain. Some, for example Scientologists, say: + (...) we will teach you how to use 100 percent of the brain+. If you meet these people, you should run!" - joked Prof. Duch.

He explained that our brain generates about 20 watts of power, equivalent of a small light bulb. He said that when we focus our attention, only 1 percent of our neurons become highly active. If instead of 1 percent nerve cells all the neurons would activate, the power would be not 20 but 200 watts. "What happens to the water when turn on a 200 W heater? Water quickly evaporates, it begins to boil. If we used 100 percent of the brain we would cook it" - noted Duch.

Can science can help the brain develop more efficiently? According to Prof. Duch, has the greatest potential lies in improving learning during the time of life when the brain develops most intensively. "The brain of a baby is the most flexible. 1 million connections are formed every second. Therefore, the greatest change and transformation in the brain we can affect occurs during the first year of life" - he noted.

The researcher pointed out that intelligence tests should be constantly modified, because children become more and more intelligent. "Perhaps this is due to a greater amount of stimulation infants receive" - said the lecturer. "Childhood is a relatively young invention" - he stressed and added that the it had been relatively not long ago when people started to play with a children, give them attention, give them toys, and this positively affecting the development of the young brain.

However, the development of the brain is inhibited over time: the organ becomes specialised. "But is specialization still good? It used to be. People lived in villages and would not leave them. They specialized in the assimilation of culture, language, things that helped survive in the village. But now we live in a global village" - said Duch, and explained that our needs were changing.

He noted that today, for example, knowledge of many languages is valuable. Baby specializes only in listening to the language, in which its caregivers speak to it, and foreign phonemes are at a disadvantage in the brain development process. Meanwhile, if the child heard foreign languages already in the cradle, later it could speak those languages without an accent.

The problem is that passive learning doesn’t do the trick with teaching languages to babies: they do not learn from foreign languages spoken, for example, on television. A child needs interaction to learn. The best form is contact with another person, but Prof. Duch expects that interactive toys could also have positive effects.

These toys could recognize the child's responses and reward it accordingly. This way, already in the cradle the child would learn to recognize tones necessary not only in musical education, but also in learning the Chinese language, the language of tonality. The researcher also gave another example: the Japanese have difficulty with distinguishing sounds "l" and "r" in the English language. A child could develop this ability in the cradle, using toys.

According to Duch, new generation of children, who would learn with the use of such toys, could be more likely to be more musical, develop their intelligence and working memory. Interactive aids, children could help children become more interested in exploring the world, have intrinsic motivation, and learn to speak foreign languages without an accent. In addition, if the toys helped detected hearing and speech problems earlier, these problems could be better addressed.

Prof. Duch wants to soon begin testing the effectiveness of such interactive toys. If tests are successful, the researcher intends to begin production of such aids for babies.

TEDx is an interdisciplinary conference organized in different cities around the world. Following the conference is often possible online. The purpose is to enable local communities to meet with people whose lives and achievements are characterized by commitment, innovation and uncompromising in the pursuit of objectives. TEDx in Poznań took place under the motto "4 x M, the City, the Weight, the Machines and the Brain".

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland

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