Put on your thinking caps... literally!
March 14, 2002 5:33 AM   Subscribe

Put on your thinking caps... literally! How would you like to be able to put on a "thinking cap" to stimulate the the vast, unused, recesses of your mind at will? Such a thing may become a reality sooner rather than later. Welcome to the 21st century! Here is a much more in depth article, and of course the Centre for the Mind website.
posted by eclectic glamazon (9 comments total)
If there's an original thought out there, I could use one right now.

Bob Dylan.

Administrator, Hope Me Please!
posted by y2karl at 5:39 AM on March 14, 2002

. o O (Why is Baz Luhrmann bothering us?)
posted by rodii at 5:58 AM on March 14, 2002

In the meantime, chew gum.
posted by liam at 6:00 AM on March 14, 2002

my subjective understanding of the universe leads me to ask WTF????
More 'objective' people?
I subjectively do not believe in it.
posted by milkman at 6:51 AM on March 14, 2002

Awesome! thanks so much for that link!
posted by charlesw at 7:47 AM on March 14, 2002

Excellent example of an inconclusive study leading to wild arm-waving among journalists.

I especially like the Information Week article, which manages to omit every single relevant detail about what actually was being studied, while still managing to find room for some misleading quotes and tasty sci-fi scenarios.
posted by ook at 8:14 AM on March 14, 2002

milkman, the first article is confusing; look at the second link for a better explanation. I think what he's trying to say is that non-savants have personal reasons to notice or ignore various bits of information thrown at them, and that in turn causes them to miss out on a lot of interesting and useful data in a given situation. The savant looks at a picture or a face or whatever, and views every aspect of it neutrally ("objectively"), and his/her mind is therefore open to storing ALL the information without discriminating.

Then, for me anyway, the question becomes, would this "objectification" of one's brain make it harder for one to later bring back one's subjectivity, if only in order to decide how to use the massive amount of information one has absorbed?
posted by bingo at 10:47 AM on March 14, 2002

This all leads me to wonder; Would it be worth becoming a savant for a few hours to do better work?

As someone who has always been an artistic failure, I think the answer is yes. How about the rest of you?
posted by phalkin at 11:49 AM on March 14, 2002

Depends on your definition of "better work". (And of "savant," for that matter.)

Temporary modification of the brain to achieve greater creativity / focus / whatever is hardly a new idea -- ask anybody who's ever gotten high and played with fingerpaints. Or drunk coffee during a late-night study session, used fasting or endorphins from strenuous physical activity to achieve a spiritual experience, etcetera. I don't see how this 'transcranial magnetic stimulation' is any different.

I'm deeply skeptical of this particular study, partly because the lead researcher seems to be such a publicity hound... see his website; his publications section includes only handful of legit science publications mixed in with the pop-science puff pieces, and even those few seem to skip the research to move straight on to hypothesizing. Also, note that he's only seeing the effects in 30% of the subjects, and never says how strong it is (only that it's "not to savant levels") -- a random sample of people with magnets stuck to their foreheads would give you just about the same results, eh?
posted by ook at 5:32 PM on March 14, 2002

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