Each chapter deals with a different aspect of your brain's functioning. First the book outlines the most up-to-date information about the brain and then applies this information to the way in which your vision can be best used.
Next, a chapter explains how you can improve memory both during and after learning. In addition a special system is introduced for the perfect memorisation of listed items.
The middle chapters explore the brain's internal 'maps'. This information about how you think is applied to the way in which you can use language, words and imagery for recording, organising, remembering, creative thinking and problem solving.
The last chapters deal with the new Organic Study Method which will enable you to study any subject ranging from English to Higher Mathematics.
In the centre of the book you will find mind maps which you are advised to look at before reading each chapter - they serve as a preview/review summary.
It is essential that you practise ifyou wish to be able to use effectively the methods and information outlined. At various stages in the book there are exercises and suggestions for further activity.
In addition you should work out your own practice and study schedule, keeping to it as firmly as possible.
At the end of each chapter you will find pages for 'Personal Notes'. These are for any odd jottings you might wish to make during reading and can also be used when you discover relevant information after you have 'finished' the book.
On page 152 you will find a special list of books. These are not just books of academic reference, but include books which will help you develop your general knowledge as well as giving you more specialised information concerning some of the areas covered in Useyour head.
The Time-Life books give clear and graphic accounts of such topics as Vision and the Mind, and can be used most effectively for family reading and study.
My own book, Speed memory, is a combination of the special memory techniques for recalling lists, numbers, names and faces, etc. It should be used in conjunction with the information from the Memory chapter.
It is hoped that Useyour head will help you to expand as an individual, and that through an increasing awareness of yourself you will be able to develop your own ways of thinking.
Each person using information from this book starts with different levels of learning ability, and will progress at the pace best suited to him. It is important therefore to measure improvement in relation to yourself and not to others.
Although much of the information has been presented in connection with reading, formal noting and studying, the complete application is much wider. When you have finished and reviewed the book, browse through it again to see in which other areas of your life the information can be helpfully applied.
Yourmind is betterthan you think
Since I wrote the introductory chapter on the brain for the first edition of Use Your Head in 1974, research in that area has been exploding with new and exciting discoveries. Rather than stating, as I did then, that 'only in the last 150 years' has the bulk of progress been made in this area, I can now state that only in the last ten years has the bulk of our knowledge been accumulated. This seems extraordinarily late when you consider that homosapiens appeared on earth 3,500,000 years ago. Bear in mind, however, that mankind has only known the location of its brain for the last 500 years. In some ways this is not surprising. Consider for a moment that you have no idea where your brain is to be found, and a friend asks: 'Where is the centre of your feelings, emotions, thoughts, memories, drives and desires located?'. You, like most others (including Aristotle!) might quite rationally decide that your brain was located in the heart and stomach area, because that is where you experience the direct physical manifestation of mental activity most regularly and dramatically.
If, even now, as we pursue with computers and electron microscopes what must be the most elusive quarry man has ever chased, we must still admit that the sum total of the knowledge we have acquired today is probably less than 1% of what there is to know. Just when tests seem to prove that the mind works in a given way, along comes another test which proves that it doesn't work that way at all, or along comes another human being with a brain which manages to make the test meaningless.
What we are gathering from our efforts at the moment is a knowledge that the mind is infinitely more subtle than we previously thought, and that everyone who has what is ironically called a 'normal' mind has a much larger ability and potential than was previously thought.
Most of the more scientific disciplines, despite their apparent differences of direction, are all being drawn into a whirlpool, the centre of which is the mind. Chemists are now involved with the intricate chemical structures that exist and interact inside our heads; biologists are struggling with the brain's biological functions; physicists are finding parallels with their investigations into the farthest reaches of space; psychologists are trying to pin the mind down and are finding the experience frustratingly like trying to place a finger on a little globule of mercury; and mathematicians who have constructed models for complex computers and even for the Universe itself, still can't come up with a formula for the operations that go on regularly inside each of our heads every day of our lives.
What we have discovered during the last decade is that you have two upper brains rather than one, and that they operate in very different mental areas; that the potential patterns your brain can make is even greater than was thought at the end of the 1960's, and that your brain requires very different kinds of food if it is to survive, see fig. 2.
In Californian laboratories in the late 1960's and early 1970's, research was begun which was to change the history of our
images imagination daydreaming colour dimension rhythm music
Fig2 Front view of the two sides ofyour brain and their functions.
sequence linearity analysis language logic number
Fig2 Front view of the two sides ofyour brain and their functions.
appreciation of the human brain, and which was to eventually win Roger Sperry of the California Institute of Technology a Nobel Prize and Robert Ornstein worldwide fame for his work on brain waves and specialisation of function.
In summary, what Sperry and Ornstein discovered was that the two sides of your brain, or your two brains, which are linked by a fantastically complex network of nerve fibres called the Corpus Collosum, deal with different types of mental activity.
In most people the left side of the brain deals with logic, language, reasoning, number, linearity, and analysis etc, the so-called 'academic' activities. While the left side of the brain is engaged in these activities, the right side is in the 'alpha wave' or resting state. The right side of the brain deals with rhythm, music, images and imagination, colour, parallel processing, daydreaming, face recognition, and pattern or map recognition.
Subsequent researches showed that when people were encouraged to develop a mental area they had previously considered weak, this development, rather than detracting from other areas, seemed to produce a synergetic effect in which all areas of mental performance improved.
At first glance history seemed to deny this finding however, for most of the 'great brains' appeared very lopsided in mental terms: Einstein and other scientists seemed to be predominantly
'left-brain' dominant, while Picasso, Cezanne and other artists and musicians appeared to be 'right-brain' dominant.
A more thorough investigation unearthed some fascinating truths: Einstein failed mathematics at school, numbered among his other activities violin playing, art, sailing, and imagination games!
To his imagination games Einstein gave credit for many of his more significant scientific insights. While daydreaming on a hill on a summer day, he imagined riding sunbeams to the far extremities of the universe, and upon finding himself returned, 'illogi-cally', to the surface of the sun, he realised that the universe must indeed be curved, and that his previous 'logical' training was incomplete. The numbers, formulas, equations and words he wrapped around this new image gave us the theory of relativity - a left and right brain synthesis.
Similarly the great artists turned out to be 'both-brained'. Rather than note books filled with stories of drunken parties, and paint slapped haphazardly to produce masterpieces, entries similar to the following were found:
'Up at 6 am. Spent seventeenth day on painting six of the latest series. Mixed four parts orange with two parts yellow to produce colour combination which I placed in upper left-hand corner of canvas, to act in visual opposition to spiral structures in lower right-hand corner, producing desired balance in eye of perceiver.' - Telling examples ofjust how much left-brain activity goes into what we normally consider right-brain pursuits.
In addition to the researches of Sperry and Ornstein, the experimental evidence of increased overall performance, and the confirming historical fact that many of the 'great brains' were indeed using both ranges of their capacity, one man in the last thousand years stands out as a supreme example of what a single human being can do if both sides of the brain are developed simultaneously: Leonardo da Vinci. In his time he was arguably the most accomplished man in each of the following disciplines: art, sculpture, physiology, general science, architecture, mechanics, anatomy, physics, and invention. Rather than separating these different areas of his latent ability, he combined them. Leonardo's scientific note books are filled with 3-dimensional drawings and images; but perhaps more interestingly, the final plans for his great painting masterpieces often look like architectural plans: straight lines, angles, curves and numbers.
It seems, then, that when we describe ourselves as talented in certain areas and not talented in others, what we are really describing is those areas of our potential that we have successfully developed, and those areas of our potential that still lie dormant, which in reality could, with the right nurturing, flourish.
The right and left brain findings give added support to the work you will be doing on memory systems, on note taking and communication, and on advanced mind mapping techniques, for in each of these areas it is essential to use both sides of your brain.
As an addendum, it is interesting to note that Dr David Samuels of the Weizmann Institute estimated that underlying the brain's basic range of activities, there are between 100,000 and 1,000,000 different chemical reactions taking place every minute!
We also know that in an average brain there are 10,000,000,000 individual neurons or nerve cells. This figure became even more astounding when it was realised that each neuron can interact with other neurons in not just one, but many ways - At the time I was writing the first edition of Use Your Head in 1974, it had been recently estimated that the number of interconnections might be as many as 10 with eight hundred noughts following it. To realise just how enormous this number is, compare it with a mathematical fact about the Universe: one of the smallest items in the Universe is the atom. The biggest thing we know is the Universe itself. The number of atoms in the Universe is predictably enormous: 10 with one hundred noughts after it. The number of interconnections in one brain makes even this number seem tiny. Seefigs3 and 4.
Shortly after the first edition of Use Your Head was published, Dr Pyotra Anokin of Moscow University, who had spent the last few years of his life studying the information processing capabilities of the brain, stated that the number one followed by 800 noughts was a gross under-estimation, that the new number he had calculated was conservative due to the relative clumsiness of our current measuring instruments in comparison to the incredible delicacy of the brain, and that the number was
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Earth-Moon 920,000 miles
Earth 7927 miles
Earth-Moon 920,000 miles
Earth 7927 miles
Inner planets 920,000,000 miles
Nearby galaxies 920,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles
Our galaxy(the Milky Way) 920,000,000,000,000,000 miles
Fig5 The enormous size of the known universe. Each successive black sphere is a thousand million times (1,000,000,000) as big as the one before it. See textpages 16 and20
Fig 6 The atom - one of the tiniest entities known. In the tip of a person's finger there are many billions of atoms, and in the entire universe a number equal to 10 with 100 noughts after it.
For the relationship between these facts and the brain's interconnecting networks, see Figs 3 and and text pages 16 and 20.
not one, followed by 800 noughts, but that the pattern-making capability of the brain, or 'degrees of freedom' throughout the brain is 'so great that writing it would take a line of figures, in normal manuscript characters, more than 10.5 million kilometres in length! With such a number of possibilities, the brain is a keyboard on which hundreds of millions of different melodies - acts of behaviour or intelligence - can be played.'
Other examples of the mind's abilities abound - examples of extraordinary memory feats, feats of super-strength, and unusual control of body functions defying the 'laws of science', are becoming more widespread. They are now fortunately more documented, generally recognised and usefully applied.
Even with the mounting evidence a number of people still remain sceptical, pointing to the performance of most of us as a contradiction of that evidence. In response to this objection a questionnaire was given to people from all areas of life to determine why this amazing organ is so under-used. The questions are noted below, and underneath each question is noted the reply given by at least 95 per cent. As you read ask yourself the questions.
• In school were you taught anything about your brain and how understanding its functions could help you learn, memorise, think, etc?
•Were you taught anything about how your memory functions?
♦ Were you taught anything about special and advanced memory techniques?
♦ Anything about how your eye functions when you are learning, and about how you can use this knowledge to your advantage?
♦ Anything about the ranges of study techniques and how they can be applied to different disciplines?
♦ Anything about the nature of concentration and how to maintain it when necessary?
♦ Anything about motivation, how it effects your abilities, and how you can use it to your advantage?
♦ Anything about the nature of key words and key concepts and how they relate to note taking and imagination etc?
♦ Anything about thinking?
♦ Anything about creativity?
By now the answer to the original objection should be clear: the reasons why our performances do not match even our minimum potentials is that we are given no information about what we are, or about how we can best utilise our inherent capacities.
A similar reply can be given to those who say that IQ tests measure our 'absolute intelligence' so therefore they must be right.
Apart from the fact that an IQ score can be significantly changed by even a small amount of well-directed practice, there are other arguments against these tests:
First the Berkeley Study on Creativity showed that a person whose IQ assessment was high was not necessarily independent in thought; independent in action; either possessed of or able to value a good sense of humour; appreciative of beauty; reasonable; relativistic; able to enjoy complexity and novelty; original; comprehensively knowledgeable; fluent; flexible; or astute.
Secondly, those who argue that IQ. does measure a wide and absolute range of human abilities have failed to consider that the test should be concerned with three major areas: 1: the brain being tested; 2: the test itself; 3: the results. Unfortunately the IQ protagonists have become too obsessed with the test and the results and have neglected the real nature of the brain being tested.
They have failed to realise that their tests do not test basic human ability, but measure untrained and undeveloped human performance. Their claims are much like those of an imaginary surveyor of women's feet sizes in the Orient at the time when their feet were restricted to make them small. From the crib the foot was placed in bandages until the woman was nearly full grown. This was done to stunt the growth and to produce 'dainty' feet.
To assume, however, as the surveyor might have done, that these measurements represent natural and fully developed bodily dimensions is as absurd as it is to assume that intelligence tests measure the natural dimensions of our minds. Our minds, like the women's feet, have been 'bound' by the way we have misjudged and mistrained them, and are therefore not naturally developed.
Another most convincing case for the excellence of the human brain, is the functioning and development of the human baby. Far from being the 'helpless and incapable little thing' that many people assume it to be, it is the most extraordinary learning, remembering and intellectually advanced being - even in its most early stages it surpasses the performance of the most sophisticated computers.
With very few exceptions, all babies learn to speak by the time they are two, and many even earlier. Because this is so universal it is taken for granted, but if the process is examined more closely it is seen to be extremely complex.
Try listening to someone speaking while pretending that you have no knowledge of language and very little knowledge of the objects and ideas the language discusses. Not only will this task be difficult, but because of the way sounds run into each other the distinction between different words will often be totally unclear. Every baby who has learned to talk has overcome not only these difficulties but also the difficulties of sorting out what makes sense and what doesn't. When he is confronted with sounds like 'koooochiekooochiekoooooooooaahhhhisn'tealove-lelyli'ldarling!' one wonders how he ever manages to make sense of us at all!
The young child's ability to learn language involves him in processes which include a subtle control of, and an inherent understanding of, rhythm, mathematics, music, physics, linguistics, spatial relations, memory, integration, creativity, logical reasoning and thinking - left and right brains working from the word go.
The reader who still doubts his own abilities has himself learned to talk and to read. He should therefore find it difficult to attack a position of which he himself is evidence for the defence.
There really is no doubt that the brain is capable of infinitely more complex tasks than has been thought. The remainder of this book will attempt to shed light on a number of the areas in which performance and self-realisation can be achieved.
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