Nobel prize winner Eric Kandal showed that the brain physically changes when we learn. As we learn, neurons swell, sway, split and after breaking connections in one region, form connections in the neighbouring region. The process is the same for sea slugs, with which he started experimenting, many animals and humans.
Earlier in XVIII century Vincenzo Malacarne did an experiment: trained a group of birds to do complex tricks, killed them, and found out that trained birds had more extensive folding patterns in specific brain regions. Later Charles Darwin discovered the same pattern examining wild animals and domestic animals. The brains of wild animals were 15-30% larger than those of the same kind but domestic animals.
Given all these experiments and results, the brain basically is just another muscle that needs constant training. The more activities we do, the larger and more complex our brains become. Not only that, we are never again the same based on activities we do and learnings we take into.
While the biggest changes in the brain occurs in the childhood up to probably 18 years old, our brains never stop altering. Scientists say that new-born babies have the same number of brain connections as adults, but at the age three children double or triple the connections, then brain starts trimming and organizing itself till it returns back to approximately initial number of connections by the time children are around eight years old. The same process starts again in the teenage years: expanding and trimming. This however does not mean that children mature on the same pace. There is large variety of the development processes, meaning, there is a lot of individuality.
The interesting part is that we are born with some preset brain functions and structure, but intentionally our brain is left to develop further to adapt to the environment we are living in. The brain is exposed for many years to develop to reach its more consolidated structure, but it continues to change all the time. Our brains change based on the experiences we have, thus, culture we are surrounded, influences our behaviour to a very significant extent.
As we are all different and constantly in motion, perhaps we have not one, but multiple intelligences. According to “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences”, written by Howard Gardner, we have seven intelligences:
– verbal and linguistic
– musical and rhythmic
– logical and mathematical
– bodily and kinesthetic
Since we have several intelligences, being excellent in one does not necessarily mean we are good in other intelligences. As with fashion, some intelligences are more praised by society at particular times, but this could mean we are all very complex beings. Some researches say that there are not seven intelligences, but many more, billions of intelligences. Brain surgeon experts say that each individual have critical brain functions in different brain regions, thus, they need to map every single time with every patient, which part of the brain does what.
According to brain surgeon George Ojemann, each brain has functions located in different areas, except language, but once the brain functions are located in the early life, they remain unchanged. What changes is how deep and condensed are these locations/paths. The more the functional area is condensed, the higher is the intelligence.
These findings lead to several conclusions, among one is that every human is very different, thus we should tailor the messages to each individual separately. In schools there should be smaller classes to address variety of needs and intellectual levels, and keep track of individual performances.