The super brain credo bridges two worlds, biology and experience. Biology is great at explaining physical processes, but it is totally inadequate at telling us about the meaning and purpose of our subjective experience. What does it feel like to be a discouraged child or a paralyzed stroke victim? The story begins with that question, and biology follows second. We need both worlds to understand ourselves. Otherwise, we fall into the biological fallacy, which holds that humans are controlled by their brains. Leaving aside countless arguments between various theories of mind and brain, the goal is clear: We want to use our brains, not have them use us.
We'll expand on these ten principles as the book unfolds. Major breakthroughs in neuroscience are all pointing in the same direction. The human brain can do far more than anyone ever thought. Contrary to outworn beliefs, its limitations are imposed by us, not by its physical shortcomings. For example, when we were getting our medical and scientifi c training, the nature of memory was a complete mystery. Another saying circulated back then: "We know as much about memory as if the brain were fi lled with sawdust." Fortunately, brain scans were on the horizon, and today researchers can watch in real time as areas of the brain "light up," to display the firing of neurons, as subjects remember certain things. The Astrodome's roof is now made of glass, you could say.
But memory remains elusive. It leaves no physical traces in brain cells, and no one really knows how our memories are stored. But that’s no reason to place any limitations on what our brains can remember. A young Indian math prodigy gave a demonstration in which she was asked to multiply two numbers, each thirty- two digits long, in her head. She produced the answer, which was sixty- four or - five digits long, within seconds of her hearing the two numbers. On average, most people can remember only six or seven digits at a glance. So what should be our norm for memory, the average person or the exceptional one? Instead of saying that the math prodigy has better genes or a special gift, ask another question: Did you train your brain to have a super memory? There are training courses for that skill, and average people who take them can perform feats like reciting the King James Bible from memory, using no more than the genes and gifts they were born with. Everything hinges on how you relate to your brain. By setting higher expectations, you enter a phase of higher functioning.
One of the unique things about the human brain is that it can do only what it thinks it can do. The minute you say, "My memory isn’t what it used to be" or "I can’t remember a thing today," you are actually training your brain to live up to your diminished expectations. Low expectations mean low results. The first rule of super brain is that your brain is always eavesdropping on your thoughts. As it listens, it learns. If you teach it about limitation, your brain will become limited. But what if you do the opposite? What if you teach your brain to be unlimited?