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You Really Are What You Know

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the i-am-a-kung-fu dept.

Science 188

jd writes "There has been research for some time showing that London cab driver brains differ from other people's, with considerable enlargement of those areas dealing with spacial relationships and navigation. Follow-up work showed it wasn't simply a product of driving a lot (PDF). However, up until now it has been disputed as to whether the brain structure led people to become London cabbies or whether the brain structure changed as a result of their intensive training (which requires rote memorization of essentially the entire street map of one of the largest and least-organized cities in the world). Well, this latest study answers that. MRI scans before and after the training show that the regions of the brain substantially grow as a result of the training, and they're quite normal beforehand. The practical upshot of this research is that — even for adult brains, which aren't supposed to change much — what you learn structurally changes your brain. Significantly."

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You would have to be differently abled (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38319998)

To navigate a city looks like it was planned by throwing spaghetti at a wall and calling it a map.

Re:You would have to be differently abled (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320052)

To navigate a city looks like it was planned by throwing spaghetti at a wall and calling it a map.

And to think, that's after the Great Fire of London in 1666, and the subsequent planned rebuilding strategies to improve it! I'd had to think what it was like before that!

Re:You would have to be differently abled (2)

Jesse_vd (821123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320178)

I watched an episode of The Beauty of Maps last night all about this. They really had a blank slate and still ended up with that!!

Re:You would have to be differently abled (5, Informative)

AaronLS (1804210) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320412)

I think the focus of the rebuilding was on enforcing building codes that would prevent future catastrophic fires.

They did try to improve the city layout, but the actual layout I don't believe was improved significantly because it would have meant buying out many property owners and the city couldn't afford that nor fight against the public outrage of displacing so many people. I seem to also remember from a documentary that so many took the initiative to begin rebuilding their homes and businesses so quickly that there wasn't any proper surveying done, plus the damage was so extensive it was difficult to tell where walls were previously. So property lines moved slightly and made things worse than before in some cases.

Re:You would have to be differently abled (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320478)

Then ofcourse you had the blitz that levelled alot of London again. That just made things worse.

Re:You would have to be differently abled (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321108)

Frankly, in 1666, if they planned for cars...well that would just be magic. Most people didnt travel more than a mile from home.

Re:You would have to be differently abled (5, Interesting)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320448)

iTo navigate a city looks like it was planned by throwing spaghetti at a wall and calling it a map.

Nevertheless, London is pretty understandable if you have to go there more than a few times. While I wouldn't claim to know all of it well, I know certain sections of it fairly well. It's fun to use your mental model of where things are to try and find a new route that brings you out close to your destination (probably best not tried if you are pressed for time). It doesn't always work but can lead to new discoveries.

When I drive in cities that use the grid model, I find myself bored. They are far too predictable and lose the power to surprise and entertain. It also is mildly irritating that there are no true short cuts as there are so few diagonals. The distance between any two points is always an integral multiple of "a block". How is that any fun?

Re:You would have to be differently abled (2)

Gamer_2k4 (1030634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320882)

When I drive in cities that use the grid model, I find myself bored. They are far too predictable and lose the power to surprise and entertain. It also is mildly irritating that there are no true short cuts as there are so few diagonals. The distance between any two points is always an integral multiple of "a block". How is that any fun?

I'd rather drive in a city that was meant to be efficient than one meant to be "fun."

Re:You would have to be differently abled (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320910)

I like fun cities with random winding roads, but I agree, not for driving. If you're going to go for something other than the modernist gridded-boulevards model, might as well go all the way to the winding medieval alleyways model of central europe.

Re:You would have to be differently abled (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322838)

The radial system is also efficient - and, if correctly designed, should actually be better than a grid in some cases.

Re:You would have to be differently abled (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321092)

It's fun to use your mental model of where things are to try and find a new route that brings you out close to your destination

Ok, I'll start. Camden Town!

Re:You would have to be differently abled (1)

Myrddin Wyllt (1188671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321170)

High Street Kensington

Re:You would have to be differently abled (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321292)

Oh. That's one of the Taxi Openings! Are we keeping track of the fare in old or new money?

Re:You would have to be differently abled (1)

Myrddin Wyllt (1188671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321436)

Doesn't any Kensington station automatically mean old money, or does the Cameron Eurodestruction Protocol supersede that?

Re:You would have to be differently abled (2, Funny)

UnoriginalBoringNick (1562311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321574)

Mornington Crescent

Re:You would have to be differently abled (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322288)

C'mon, let's have a challenge here.

Mornington Crescent.

Re:You would have to be differently abled (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38322406)

Surprise and entertain? It would surprise and entertain me if you died slowly and painfully!

Cities should be functional. Fuck fun. Roads should be an intuitive and efficient way for the people to get around. The best road system would probably be set up like a grid, with a few diagonals to make things quicker, following Pythagoras' simple mathematics.

Making roads 'fun' in the way you are describing is basically a waste of time and fuel.

B

Actually (2)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320620)

Maps and boundries were created when beer met felt tipped markers. Look and see !!!

Re:You would have to be differently abled (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320858)

To be fair, back then, maps were harder to create than cities were. You may as well start with the map. Spaghetti is as good a choice as any.

Re:You would have to be differently abled (4, Insightful)

fotoflojoe (982885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320926)

I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. The first time I visited London, I felt right at home.

Changes your brain? (5, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320000)

The practical upshot of this research is that — even for adult brains, which aren't supposed to change much — what you learn structurally changes your brain. Significantly.

Okay. Now I *really* feel sorry for Windows programmers/admins :-)

Re:Changes your brain? (5, Funny)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320030)

I used to blame Bill for all of the ills in the profession I work in, but I've recently had a change of heart...

In the years I've worked I've made about $500,000 in salary. 90% of the time I've worked on Windows machines, and frequently the same Windows machines, year after year, as the problems can't truly be fixed.

I've made half-a-million bucks because of Microsoft! Woohoo!

Re:Changes your brain? (1)

Impie (46586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320304)

+1 on that one .. I laughed my brains out ..

Re:Changes your brain? (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321062)

That makes me wonder.. by learning oneself Basic or Visual Basic one could quickly shrink the size of one's brain mass. Then we could instead start learning something more useful and grow our brains back to original size, just better and stronger. Profit?

Though I think we should take care not to do too much of (Visual) Basic or our brains might fall out of our ears when we sleep.

Re:Changes your brain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38322760)

Why did I waste my cranium space?! (4, Funny)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320008)

Great... I wasted my space in my head on Star Trek...

Good news! (4, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320092)

This is good news for you then, since it means that it's never too late to forget all that junk.

Re:Why did I waste my cranium space?! (5, Funny)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321830)

Waste?

If you have been a real Star Trek fan then there have been significant changes in your brain that allow you to better understand social justice, equality, currency-less societal structures, diplomacy, human-alien sexual congress, and the advisability of wearing red apparel.

Not a waste at all!

" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed to (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320038)

" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed to change much"

How is it that this is still passed around as fact. This idea is incredibly outdated.

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (3, Funny)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320058)

How is it that this is still passed around as fact. This idea is incredibly outdated.

Really? I watched several Republican Primary Debates, and I have to disagree with you...

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (0, Flamebait)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320190)

How is it that this is still passed around as fact. This idea is incredibly outdated.

Really? I watched several Republican Primary Debates, and I have to disagree with you...

Yes, you are the perfect example of someone whose thinking is stuck in the '60s. Good work!

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320354)

He still has a century on the people he's insulting, champ.

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (1)

knarf (34928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321126)

Really? I watched several Republican Primary Debates

I thought you just said you watched Republican Primate Debates... it must be getting late on this side of the Atlantic...

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320156)

Despite all the papers written, tests, experiments etc, the truth is, people know and understand very little about the human brain.

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320358)

Duh, entire generations grew up believing it and we all know adult brains can't change very... wait a minute...

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (1, Redundant)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320374)

How is it that this is still passed around as fact. This idea is incredibly outdated.

- it's because adult brains aren't supposed to change much.

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320896)

see how a moderator's brains don't change? Hard to teach the old dogs new tricks.

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321330)

They deteriorate. That's change.

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (3, Informative)

cyachallenge (2521604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320450)

Well, neural plasticity does slow down considerably after early adulthood. I imagine you're responding to the theory that plasticity simply halted after childhood, which has been disproven many times. Neuroscience is a complex field that ties Philosophy of Mind, Psychology, Neurology etc together. It's hard to make any lasting broad statements about the brain and how it works.

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (4, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320550)

" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed to change much"

How is it that this is still passed around as fact. This idea is incredibly outdated.

Absolutely. There's a recent study, done at Mass Gen, that shows adults who practice mindfulness medication, such as tai chi, benefit from measurable physical changes to their brain in as little as 8 weeks of 20min/day meditation. Even older adults. And these changes occur to the regions of the brain that are associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and dealing with stress.

I teach Chinese martial arts, including tai chi chuan, and love to point this out to my students.

By the way, tai chi is really good for tech types like programmers. It's fun and the martial arts aspects are extremely cool. You also get to use swords (long swords (jian) and broadswords (dao)) as well as staffs and spears. Tai chi also puts lead in your pencil, if you catch my drift.

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320872)

Tai chi also puts lead in your pencil, if you catch my drift.

Ah! Nod nod, wink wink! And ink in your pen? Nod nod, wink wink.

I bet Tai Chi would even put butter on my pretzel! Nod nod wink wink.

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321328)

Nudge, you mean, I think.

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320980)

That's pure bullshit if there ever was any. You're an idiot, please castrate yourself you stupid mutt.

Before you ask... (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321094)

Bullshit - Nothing in the article about tai chi. (1)

littlewink (996298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322396)

The article is about f**ing meditation, not tai chi chuan.

Re:Bullshit - Nothing in the article about tai chi (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322664)

The article is about f**ing meditation, not tai chi chuan.

Dummy, half of tai chi is meditation. Anybody who studies tai chi seriously spends as much time in various mindfulness meditations as he does in movement.

The standing meditation, usually in the horse posture, is the quintessential mindfulness meditation, and mindfulness meditation is exactly the kind of meditation that this study showed to have physical effects on the brain.

Yang Lu Chan said that when you look at the tai chi symbol, aka the "yin/yang" symbol, the light half represents the movements of the tai chi form, pushing hands, and weapons forms. The dark half of the symbol represents the tai chi meditation. Together, the represent balance. Together, they represent the whole - the Tao.

Anyone who does tai chi and does not practice meditation daily is not really practicing tai chi.

Now, in the words of the great 12th century master, Zhang San Feng, "Go fuck yourself".

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (2)

zephvark (1812804) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322364)

Mindfulness medication, such as tai chi? Am I to guess this is only legal in California and when prescribed by a registered physician?

Re:" Even for adult brains, which aren't supposed (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322736)

Mindfulness medication, such as tai chi?

Did I say "medication"? Aw geez, it's been a long day. It was our first snow here in Chicago, and my early flight this morning was really taxing.

I'm ready for bed now. Sorry about the "medication". Apparently, the salutary effect of mindfulness meditation on the human brain has not done quite enough for me yet.

The question is how long does it take? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320066)

If you have trained extensively in one area how long would it take to switch to something else?
 

Re:The question is how long does it take? (4, Interesting)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320242)

Along the same lines, do some types of jobs lead to stable equilibrium configurations of some sort (which cannot be easily escaped)? For example, does learning to take orders and being a good employee reconfigure the brain in different ways than being an entrepreneur and making up your own decisions? Is it possible to become the latter if you've already spent 20 years being the former?

Re:The question is how long does it take? (3)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320692)

That's actually a very good question. I'm not sure anyone has done that study, but I'd love to know the results.

If we go with current thinking (the Peter Principle, the idea that people generally will have their best ideas when young, the high failure rate of start-ups that appear to be by people moving out of regular industry, the apparent "strangeness" of inventors and innovators to those with a strong work ethic, etc) then the answer would be "almost certainly" for your first question, "quite likely" for your second and "yes but it's unimaginably rare" to your third.

However, you must bear in mind that until there's hard evidence of cause-and-effect, this is all supposition based on anecdotal evidence (which, if you remember your Dilbert videos, is only good for selling books) and apparent correlation. It seems very plausible, but without something a bit more solid I'm not confident anyone can give a real answer.

Re:The question is how long does it take? (2)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322286)

I spent from 15-25 being a retail slave. I design complex horticultural systems and LED lighting to match those systems, now. I'm about to be on the BBC.

I'd say it's not so stuck.

Re:The question is how long does it take? (1)

Optic7 (688717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322580)

That's very interesting. How did you make this change?

Re:The question is how long does it take? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322708)

Like I said, being stuck was supposition. Of course, you might be one of those rare mega-geniuses for whom no normal rules apply.

Re:The question is how long does it take? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320970)

Maybe someone who has a natural propensity for entrepreneurialship is good at taking orders. Maybe someone doesn't. When you start looking at grey areas you find complexity.

Re:The question is how long does it take? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320518)

How long does it take to learn and/or remember anything? That fast.

How quickly can you forget something? That fast.

Your brain literally undergoes physical changes with literally every memory gained or lost.

Re:The question is how long does it take? (1)

cyachallenge (2521604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320712)

If you have trained extensively in one area how long would it take to switch to something else?

I would hope that skills you learn in any given field are complementary to others. Think of the polymaths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymath [wikipedia.org]

Didn't work for me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320174)

My before and after MRI's show shrinking of several parts of my brain after I learned a lot about scotch!

Meditation (4, Interesting)

Laxori666 (748529) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320180)

Anyone who meditates effectively for any length of time can attest to the fact that the brain can change quite dramatically as a result of what you do with it. Things that I did not even know were possible have happened to me as a result of it, and not in a subtle way, either.

Re:Meditation (2)

no1nose (993082) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320416)

I am interested in how you meditate and what results you have observed. I am 36 years old and want to make sure I don't turn old and grumpy before my time.

Re:Meditation (3, Interesting)

Laxori666 (748529) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321076)

I do different things now than when I started. First it was just following the breath 20min/day... then doing a technique called Mahasi-style Noting... at some point a shift occurred which made it far, far easier to concentrate on whatever I wanted and for however long (I basically am never bored anymore as there is always something interesting going on that I can observe). If you'd like to get into it more I invite you to introduce yourself on the Dharma Overground [dharmaoverground.org] .

Re:Meditation (1)

Laxori666 (748529) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321088)

Ah yea results-wise: fascinating altered states of consciousness (while sober). The aforementioned increase in concentration. Also learned a lot about how emotions work (and how suffering in general works) which makes it far easier to deal with stressful stuff. Also really increased sensual clarity (particularly vision).

Re:Meditation (1)

cyachallenge (2521604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321234)

I've noticed I seem to have better control over myself in general since I've began meditating; It's a very rewarding activity. Have you noticed any increase in lucid dreaming by chance?

Re:Meditation (2)

Laxori666 (748529) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321488)

I used to try to lucid dream actively, and had a period of lots of lucid dreams then. I haven't really focused on it since starting to meditate, though they will happen when I think about them sometimes (like I'll remember they exist, then have one that night). When they have happened I've noticed that meditating while in the dream makes it more lucid, and is also actually great meditation - it's easier to do somehow in that state.

Meditating is indeed quite rewarding. I also invite you to post on the Dharma Overground if you like.. lots of experienced meditators there who can help you if you're looking to do something more with it or just refine what you're doing already.

Re:Meditation (1)

cyachallenge (2521604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320570)

Anyone who meditates effectively for any length of time can attest to the fact that the brain can change quite dramatically as a result of what you do with it. Things that I did not even know were possible have happened to me as a result of it, and not in a subtle way, either.

It can be said certainly that your mind changes. How that is shown in neuroscience may be altogether different. Scanning techniques really aren't sufficient to create a complete Physicalist explanation (if there is one). For now we have to rely on MRI/fMRI blood flow and indirect methods. I imagine there will be much interesting philosophical and theoretical debate after better scanners arise.

Re:Meditation (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320682)

The big factor here is stress. Meditation is a good method for reducing stress substantially as it's well know how it effects the brain physically.

Re:Meditation (1)

robi5 (1261542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322070)

citation needed

Jarhead Syndrome (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320182)

I think most of us know some nice, normal kid who has gone off to basic training and come back a different person. It's not just the steroids they inject them with either - military training has been perfected over the centuries to achieve this end.

Usually the change isn't temporary - I'd like to see a study of retired London cabbies; I bet they're good with navigation into old age.

Re:Jarhead Syndrome (1)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320720)

With all of the chemicals in nearly every product today, Alzheimer's takes care of their brains long before old age comes.

Re:Jarhead Syndrome (1)

PintoPiman (648009) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321264)

oh noes... not CHEMICALS! That sounds pretty evil to me. On the other hand.... [Citation Needed]...

Re:Jarhead Syndrome (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321978)

[quote]
It's not just the steroids they inject them with either
[/quote]
In what alternate universe do you live?

Oh no (2)

Tigersmind (1549183) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320360)

I have memorised a significant collection of porn sites over the years for "research". What happened to my brain?

Re:Oh no (3, Funny)

sedman (210394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320426)

Your vision center has shrunk. Careful or it will disappear all together.

Re:Oh no (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320500)

In the words of Grace (Sigourney Weaver) to Jake. "Don't play with that you'll go blind".

Porn (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321702)

I can just feel my head getting bigger.

No, the other one.

But? (3, Funny)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320390)

The question is: How is the Brain of the people that study the Brain?

Re:But? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320906)

They can't study the brain anymore. It said something about being the greetest, and then it left forever for no raisin.

Not what you know (3, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320434)

but what you exercise. Probably there are (maybe in different areas) brain improvements too for piano players, people that speak in several languages or players of some games. The brain is a muscle that grows with training.

Related with the title, not the content of the article, probably there is very little of what is "you" that wasnt what you know or what you lived. Someone else that looked essentially like me (to not have different experiences based on looks) living exactly what i lived would probably think like me.

Re:Not what you know (5, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320916)

The following is what I could dig up on the effects of multi-lingualism. It does impact the brain in many different areas and there appears to be a growing belief that learning a new language at any age will have a pronounced impact on your ability to think and reason, but that if taught young the improvements are far more dramatic still. I didn't want to clutter the submission with this stuff, especially as these studies don't have nearly the same level of rigour as the MRI scans of the taxi drivers (where a whole host of variables can now be examined directly versus the somewhat more indirect studies done on polyglots). They're also a bit more controversial, with opposing studies claiming that the benefits either don't exist or don't exist in the way that is claimed.

http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/0012brain.html [cal.org]
http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=brainbriefings_thebilingualbrain [sfn.org]
http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/11/10/cognitive-ability-improved-when-bilingual/20740.html [psychcentral.com]

(Press coverage adds yet another level of indirectness and potential sources of errors, but there's still some useful info here)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/31/science/31conversation.html [nytimes.com]
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3739690.stm [bbc.co.uk]
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/feb/18/bilingual-alzheimers-brain-power-multitasking [guardian.co.uk]

The impact of music on learning is also not very well studied - I can find press links that talk about the research, but not much actual research.

http://www.livescience.com/5327-music-memory-connection-brain.html [livescience.com]
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070801122226.htm [sciencedaily.com]
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3095807.stm [bbc.co.uk]
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12135590 [bbc.co.uk]

However, the story gets MUCH more complicated...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15791973 [bbc.co.uk]
http://www.mymultiplesclerosis.co.uk/misc/amnesia.html [mymultiple...osis.co.uk]

There IS a fascinating "reverse" case, where alteration of the brain resulted in a remarkable alteration in musical ability, but as far as I know there has been no real work done on what changes the brain has undergone as a consequence of the new obsession.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Cicoria [wikipedia.org]

If anyone can add to the list, that would be great, especially for the different areas you were mentioning.

Re:Not what you know (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321074)

This is untrue. There is certainly a nature aspect to it all. For starters, since everybody learns differently, if someone else were to be taught exactly the same way you were taught, they'd most likely either know less, or more than you.

And that's not even talking about genetic dispositions caused by chemical differences.

Obviously, the important thing to remember is that dispositions is not guaranteed. Everyone can be trained to behave in the same manner. It's just that the training is different for everyone, usually subtly, but sometimes drastically.

pr0n? (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320458)

Wonder what before/after images of view a substantial amount of pr0n would reveal, besides over-development of the preferred wrist?

Re:pr0n? (3, Funny)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320532)

"Sir your visual cortex is extremely complex. At these percentages of activity and size, you should be able to spot perfect-10 curves from 5000 feet in the air. Of course someday you'll just magically go blind, with no medical explanation, so there's that."

Well of course. (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320790)

I am pretty sure Humans do not have the equivalent of software that works on generic brain hardware. Skills come about by the brain being hard wired to do certain tasks and this has been known for a long time.

The real question here is why do cabby's still have to go though such a intensive training regiment when you could just install a GPS.

Re:Well of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321114)

The real question here is why do cabby's still have to go though such a intensive training regiment when you could just install a GPS.

Right.. because people love it when they give the cabby an address 3 blocks away and he takes 5 minutes to type it in to his GPS

Re:Well of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321732)

Just because they have a GPS doesn't mean they have to so fucking mentally challenged that it takes 10 years to type in the address.

Re:Well of course. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321912)

The real question here is why do cabby's still have to go though such a intensive training regiment when you could just install a GPS.

At least two reasons. Canyoning - lots of tall buildings and the occasional tunnel aren't good for seeing satellites. Also, people don't always get in to a cab and ask to be taken to an address. A place, a rough description, a cabbie should be able to get you there(*).

(* OK so it doesn't always work but not far off. And by stereotype, you don't want to ask them to go the other side of the river.)

Re:Well of course. (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322824)

Have you ever tried to use a GPS in London?

It's like trying to navigate the Pacific Ocean when the most accurate details you can give to the computer are "I can see water" and "I'm in a boat".

Even if the GPS has a decent fix, so many of the streets are at random angles, with really narrow winding side streets that it easily gets confused. There's no substitute for a driver who knows the layout.

Re:Well of course. (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322942)

"It's like trying to navigate the Pacific Ocean when the most accurate details you can give to the computer are "I can see water" and "I'm in a boat"."

You must not know how GPSes work. It does not require the user to know where they are. It used satellites to do that for you.
And it does not matter if current GPSes do not like London or if the streets are not all at 90 degree angels or not.
With a relatively small amount of work (making sure the internal map is right, punching in the general traffic details) then it would work exactly as a normal cabby would but be better at cost/benefit analysis of a longer route vs high traffic areas reducing speed.
These people are not doing anything a computer cannot be programmed to do (Ie pattern recognition), all they are doing is remembering large amounts of spacial data.

Isn't that what dreams are? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320928)

Isn't that what dreams are? That is, while you sleep, you brain breaks down synapses covering information/skills you don't use, and builds synapses to cover new information/skills you are using, and during that renovating synapses get fired, resulting in dreams. No?

Rote memorization? (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321112)

From the summary:

"... or whether the brain structure changed as a result of their intensive training (which requires rote memorization of essentially the entire street map of one of the largest and least-organized cities in the world)."

I don't know that rote memorization plays that big a part in it, rather I think it's more learning by doing thing. I would dare say that it's impossible to memorize a map of London without actually doing some driving and combining that map knowledge with other visuals such as landmarks, familiar sounds, etc.

I also think that alertness - not necessarily to the task of memorization, at least in the beginning of any learning stage, plays a part in it. When you're driving AND learning your way through streets, map knowledge is only one part of it. If you're alert, you're relying on other senses too.

When I was in university (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321134)

When I was in university taking CS, I took a number of Psych courses (liberal arts university). They taught quite a bit about neural plasticity (the brain changes to its environment/conditions), so be careful what you read, be careful what you think, because you are changing your brain. They had demos of people who lost balance due to inner ear damage, and how they used a mild electrical stimulus on the tongue (taste and balance are neighbors in the brain), to 're-wire' a persons brain to balance. A lady had suffered an accident several years before, was bed ridden, threw up if she ate too much, and her world was usually spinning (as if she was falling), due to the inner ear damage, but was otherwise normal. She came into the lab. Mild electrode/sensor on tongue, she stood up. They turned it on. Immediately the 'noise' in her ears went away, for the first time in 6 years. She could stand on her own to feet without holding onto something (again first time in 6 years). They kept it going for about 30 minutes. It lasted 4 hours after they stopped it. She begged them to return the next day. They insisted. The next day it lasted about 6 hours. Rinse, repeat. After 2 more weeks, she didn't need to go back at all for 3 months, and after the next time in the lab, they determined that 'she had her life back'. The brain re-wires itself on a moment by moment basis. Who you talk to, what you do, where you eat, what friends you have, where you work, holiday, drink, how you drive, school, your brain is a product of that.

wat (2)

tryptogryphic (1985608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321240)

This is old news and has been known by Neuroscience for a long time now...neurons move closer to other neurons based on how often certain movements and memories / thoughts are used so of course the makeup of your brain is going to be dependent on what you know and do on a consistent basis. There is nothing new about this discovery.

How old... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321480)

is Neuroscience? Pretty much it's all new. How do you feel about that?

--

Re:How old... (1)

tryptogryphic (1985608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322748)

My point is, this is being touted as some fantastic new pioneering discovery...when, at this point in neurological research...this aspect simply is not.

Read a book..... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321326)

..... this is a really already know among memory athletes and is also told about in books about memory palaces!
one of them in a review where it is mentioned in:
http://www.forward.com/articles/136210/

I would advice a lot of people here to actualy (buy?) read that book! It is a nice start off!

Suspicious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321688)

These types of results have dubious statistical significance. I await the Journal of Irreproducible Results article.

This is what I think of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321826)

Especially 4 Geeks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HofoK_QQxGc [youtube.com]

They also found this in the case of Eintstein (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322258)

A completely normal brain, except extremely hypertrophied in the areas associated with logical thought and reasoning.

He himself said that he had to struggle to a degree that he found hard to believe in the years he was at the patent office. and working on his theory.

Same thing with Hawking. He was a bright student, but not exceptional. Then he got ALS. He himself has said that the net effect of his disease has been to make his life immensely richer and he doubted that he would have achieved what he achieved if it had not happened.

Lots of anecdotal evidence of people coming back from strokes which left them paralyzed and unable to speak after very very much effort. Could that really all be the migration of functions to undamaged parts of the brain?

All thought is subtended by some biochemical process. It's not that surprising that along with changes located in the synapses and the density of the interconnectedness between neurons there are gross morphological ones in the form of either head count or size of neurons, or both.

You know if you've ever spent every day for years studying hard that you're in a place that other people just aren't, and problem solving- not to say specific problems- that seemed hard to you now seems like a walk in the park.

You also know that if you leave that behind and later look back at your work, it's shocking and depressing to see what you had once been capable of.

What does the song say?

When you're up, looks like a longs ways down..

When you're down, looks like a long way up...

It's all the same thing..No new tale to tell...

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