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For All Worldwide, A Holistic View

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Volume III - Chapter Five

( Last updated  Mar. 17, 2008)


Increasing Brain Power, Intelligence, Creativity, Imagination

"An immense and ever-increasing wealth of knowledge is scattered about the world today; knowledge that would probably suffice to solve all the mighty difficulties of our age, but it is dispersed and unorganized. We need a sort of mental clearing house: a depot where knowledge and ideas are received, sorted, summarized, digested, clarified and compared." --H.G. Wells

The next great leap in understanding the mind will doubtless involve a conceptual and scientific revolution of such magnitude that we cannot at present envisage it. --A. C. Gratling

We are not all the same; we do not all have the same kinds of minds…and education works more effectively if these differences are taken into account. --Howard Gardner

Creating maps of the brain presents a huge challenge, for there may be 100 million or ore neurons and trillions of synapses. --MIT Technology Review, Mar.-Apr. 2008

21st century education should prepare students to be knowledge creators--not just receptacles of existing knowledge.   --Van Weigle 

The development of the whole person should be a primary goal of a global electronic learning system. That begins with; the body of course, since a healthy body (and emotions) is also important for intelligence and learning; as are the human spirit--the arts. <http://itri.loyola.edu/ConvergingTechnologies/>  In this chapter, however, our focus is on the brain/mind, especially research to enhance intelligence, creativity, memory and imagination for the individual and also the collective intelligence and imagination of groups. So It is important to know more about the human brain and to make better use of that knowledge in education. That requires taking note of the differences in brains—and the development of the brain—of unique individuals. (Gardner 1999). Englebart (reported by Rheingold 2003) has been frustrated that increasing the intelligence of individuals gets more attention than "raising the I.Q. of organizations." No one yet really knows enough about how the brain and mind-system works and how everyone's brain has developed in different ways. involving desires, beliefs, goals and intentions. (Fodor 2005)  In writing a poem, Douglas Hofstadter has said, billions of neurons interconnect every few milliseconds. 

Without realizing it, humanity is probably suffering from a failure to find and develop genius among the illiterate and poorly educated of the developing world…and elsewhere, especially among females! Jacobson (1999) reminded us that in the USA alone there are as many as twenty million adults who have special talents and gifts that have not been recognized and developed. She proposes advanced development of `evolutionary intelligence.’ Michael Martinez (1996) of the University of California, Irving, proposed that humanity is at the beginning of `a Copernican Revolution’ in the teaching and learning of intelligence. “Intelligence has been regarded as essentially inherited and unchangeable.” Now, however, it is found to be both modifiable and learnable. Cognitive behavior can be taught and learned and “intelligence can be deliberately enhanced.” For example, researchers at the Australian Center for the Mind, while studying autistic children, developed “the world’s first thinking cap,” technology to “boost the cleverness of workers and ease the decision-making process.” (Edupage 2002). McCrone (2001) tells how `mental exercise’ can increase mental efficiency, as can plenty of sleep, `brain food,’ and software programs.

Educators are increasingly able to use greater knowledge about the brain in research and in developing learning skills; and that will be enhanced because of forthcoming powerful new technologies. Those who work with learners can participate in the research and improve the quality of learning as they take more account of its biological foundation. The extraordinary evolutionary pace of information technology, Duderstadt (2000) pointed out, could well accelerate on a super exponential slope. Educators can in time move from using `giga’ technology (in terms of computer operations per second, storage, or data transmission rates) to `tera’ and then to `peta’ technology (one million-billion or 1015). This means, for example, that by the year 2020, the thousand-dollar notebook computer may have a data processing speed and memory capacity roughly comparable to the human brain. It  may be so tiny as to be almost invisible, and it will communicate with billions of other computers—and thus with other human minds-- through wireless technology. A  goal of education in this context should be more creative people, not just more knowledgeable learners. She finds two stages of creativity and the first is inspiration. Pink (2006) proposes that `left brain' information age is giving way to a more artistic and holistic right brain  with more empathy, creativity, pattern recognition and meaning-making. Holmes (2007) proposes that science may be ale to give mental powers "that are truly mind-boggling."

Although “the brain has become one of science’s final frontiers…we still know only scraps about our own heads.” Kahn (2001) illustrated this by quoting a neuroscientist: “We are like Martians looking at a car.” They can take it apart but still do not know how one part works with another. We human beings now know that the brain is much more complex than previously supposed. With new technologies like `position emissions tomography’ and ‘optical and electromagnetic signal imagers’ scientists have “been able to peer into the brain as it functions.” They see now that understanding the brain involves more than the mapping of an “incredibly complex world, but mapping several billion different worlds, many of whose landmarks are yet to be discovered. (3.5.2.) Connections between millions of nerve cells “produce the rich tapestry of the mind.” (Allman 1989.) Important discoveries in therapy—for example since the brain is electrical “it should be possible to influence the train electrically (Hall 2001)—and experiments with a “brain pacemaker’ suggest implications for enhancing the brain for learning also. See: <http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/primer.html>. "Advanced knowledge of how the brain operates is revolutionizing education" (Tucker 2007)

Technology with greatly increased power and speed is important for learners because—as one instructor has explained it--each person’s brain contains as many cells as all of the trees in the world and has as many synapses between neurons as all the leaves on all those trees. And powerful digital technology can be used to increase brainpower, speed, and memory. For planning purposes, Duderstadt (2000) has said, educators can now proceed on the assumption that in this 21st century infinite bandwidth and infinite processing power (at least compared to current capabilities) will be available. “We will denominate the number of computer servers in the billions, digital sensors in the tens of billions, and software agents in the trillions. The number of people linked together by digital technology will grow from millions to billions. We will evolve from…“e-learning” to “e-everything”, since digital devices will increasingly become our primary interfaces not only with our environment, but with other people, groups, and social institutions.” This technological power can be used to enlarge present efforts to model the brain and to map its functioning. We will be able to perform—imaginatively, intellectually and creatively “in ways no one in 2001 could imagine.” (Sturnik 2000) On our environment for thinking, see:

What next? Bloom (2003) reported on a research program "to jump start new methods of knowledge gathering, integration and prediction." called TIA (Total Information Awareness.) It should not only make existing web search engines obsolete. It should `make today's web look like a library for the illiterate' as it "knits together all kinds of disparate data" in "a general I.Q. expansion pack capable of plowing through the built in barriers of central nervous system-based software." Alexander (2004) reported on machines that can become prosthetics for information, memory, and creativity." Inman (2005) proposes that human brains are still evolving for faster thinking. Kurzweil (2005) predicts enlargement of technology in the next few years that will provide vast information about the human brain, making possible the enlargement of individual and collective human intelligence. Experimentation with brain development, for example the `brain gym' project to enhance memory of the elderly or to help children with dyslexia, <http://www.braingym.org/BG_research.pdf>.


“Knowing how the brain works is important to building its power” and in this high-tech age we need as much cognition as we can get.” (Restak 2001) When you consider `knowledge,’ he has said, “The brain should be seen as a vast network wherein every neuron is potentially connectable with every other;” the web of knowledge consisting of an ever-enlarging sphere made of millions of interconnecting pathways. He quotes James Burke: “We need to think in a different way about knowledge and how it should be used.” And that “the brain’s vast capacity to form interconnections (is) similar to the …interconnections comprising the World Wide Web.” So instead of seeing intelligence as the ability to memorize and remember things, we should view it as the ability to explore knowledge and make imaginative patterns on the web. Knowledge and intelligence can be seen in “certain patterns which underlie the diversity of our world around us and include our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.” Instead of dividing knowledge up into many disciplines, educators need to bring the entire range of ideas into play, “including those expressed in `languages’ as diverse as music, painting, sculpture, dance, mathematics, and philosophy.” <http://www.nature.com/nrn/

The brain, he says, should therefore be seen as “the creator of incredibly rich and fascinating montages.” The human brain (and we can also learn from some  remarkable animal brains) brings everything in life into a seamless unity. Most education, on the other hand, compartmentalizes, like the artificial boundaries drawn on geography maps. Also the brain does not operate in strictly chronological terms, seeking to impose time boundaries. Actually, the past intermingles with the present in our individual memory as well as in collective memory. Restak also points out that “too much of education is passive and linked to traditional academics.” He shows how learning is closely related to motor activities, as seen in middle schools where it is found that youngsters memorize better when kept on their feet, moving around. Memory is also related to pleasure in learning and to emotions. He shows how learning is closely related to motor activities, as seen in middle schools where it is found that youngsters remember better when kept on their feet, moving around. Memory is also related to pleasure in learning and to emotions. <http://www.phil.mq.edu.au/staff/jsutton/CogSciContinentalPhil.html> Singer (2007) reports on brain studies "that shed light on cognitive capacities."

Greenfield (2002) proposed that the evolving brain connections--that reflect experience--are the process to be called `the mind, which along with consciousness is central in learning. Restak also recommends `mind-mapping,’ (which can be enabled by computer programs <www.mind-map.com,> to “form associations linking one concept with another” and “to study the pattern of links in search of themes.” He quotes William James: “Start from any idea…and the entire range of your ideas is potentially at your disposal.” Benking (2000) discussed the use of maps and models. “When trying to leave the shores and the molds of our thinking, maybe we need other maps, models and even a giro for the third dimension in order to dive…into the information” instead of `surfing on the surface’ where we are subject to many distractions. “Maps make the world comprehensible to us, helping us find our way and not be overwhelmed. And human beings are model-makers who come to understand something when we can visualize it. Engelbart (Rheingold 2000) has proposed “that the overall scope and potential of the digital revolution is far greater than is commonly recognized.” This is especially true for educators as they learn more about the brain.  Roush (2006) an a `hunch engine" that may expand the human mind. 
See: <http://www.mind-map.com/mindmap/DEFINITION.HTM> On Englebart proposals see: <http://www.bootstrap.org/>  .

Think big? Benking (2000) spoke of `a master plan’ for knowledge as an alternative to technology systems that “interpret and digest for us, giving us bits and pieces…too small to see the bigger pictures and explore hidden connections and dimensions.” Knowledge maps which he calls KnowMaps and Knowledge Models which he calls KnowModels, he says, can be used to embody and outline what is known and unknown and enable knowledge scaffolding and architectures. He also speaks of a `cognitive panorama” for an overview. And what about a virtual model?


A great deal is now known about the brain, much as a .great deal is now known about outer space, the stars, the universe; yet like the universe much of what we need to know about the brain is yet to be learned, especially that which can help education.  However much is being learned about the brain's astonishing ability to change its function and structure continually, for example through research in molecular biology, genetics and artificial intelligence. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is used to see which parts of the brain are active during different kinds of functioning. Maps of neural activity help researchers find which parts of the brain are used for speech, vision, hearing and motor skills. As fMRI improves, much more may be learned that will be helpful to educators. Researchers have already been able to “view brains down to their synapses…and tease out the connections between different parts of the organ: how we remember, make associations, concentrate.” (Kahn 2001).

Genetic research may also in time help educators find out if certain ways of learning are built into the brain. “Behavioral neurogenetics studies the inheritance of characteristics of the brain and their resulting influences on behavior” (IBANGS 2001). The International Behavioral and Neural Genetics Society now brings together scientists from those two fields and the establishment of the Genes, Brain and Behavior journal which will report on “the genetic approach as a tool” to understand a wide range of problems. Foreman (2004) has pointed out that video games are a most engaging intellectual enterprise make a better use of what is being learned about the brain than most conventional learning programs do.

Cognitive research has been moving away from viewing the brain as like a computer (Edelman 2000) and from seeing human brains as coming into the world as a blank slate waiting to be influenced by environment. Did Einstein have a higher I.Q. because his genes gave him a better capacity for brain connections? Or was his genius a product of his environment; as youngsters who grow up in the homes of professional musicians are generally more musical because of an environment that stimulated their neurons from an early age? Available research finds that “the brain comes into the world with much more structure, behavioral and anatomical, than had been thought.” (Gilman 1997). The brain is able to analyze information it receives and “different parts of the brain…think in different ways.” Also memory turns out to be more mysterious than had been supposed. The brain arrives with built in patterns and programs. Gilman also reports that education has neglected some parts of the brain and where “attempts have been made to `educate the whole brain’ the speed of learning and the level of achievement are often astounding.” He stresses the importance of the brain’s ability to combine “imagination (especially the ability to plan) with feeling (for both empathy and motivation.)”

Edelman (2001) reported on his use of the largest computer model of the brain that had yet been constructed to explore neural activity across many many different regions of the brain, to seek to learn how consciously learned processes—such as playing the piano—become unconscious, and among other things “to explore the problem of `qualia;’ that is why certain experiences have qualities such as color, warmth and loudness.”

Much is being learned about the brain through research into disabilities. The disabled, (Hockenberry 2001) are “on the leading edge” of discovery, as illustrated in using electrodes surgically implanted in the brain to enable a person to use brain waves to control a computer. Researchers use fMRI to see changes inside the brain of a paralyzed stroke victim as he thinks about various movements and, in time, programming a computer so that the user can use thoughts to “move a cursor and even generate musical tones…His brain had tapped into capabilities rendered dormant by the stroke. His thoughts about motion were triggering clusters of motor neurons.” The patient’s brain was “demonstrating a flexibility worthy of Java or Linux.” The process soon became unconscious, much as a violinist or athlete do not need to think about what they are doing. These researchers have discovered that this kind of brain functioning is “as distinctive as fingerprints. Each person solves problems in his or her own way, with a mix of technology and body improvisatio. The variables are cultural and psychological.” This kind of research moves beyond help to the handicapped, “raising the possibility of alternative brain outlets to the world;” using `deep brain stimulation.’ Perhaps in time this can help a teacher see the world as a unique learner does. “Designers need to think in the broadest possible terms when they approach human-interface technology.” The existing technology is far from being refined alternative brain outlets to the world;” using `deep brain stimulation.’ 

Matt Savage, in the December 2003 issue of WIRED, reports on a rare kind of disability--now being studied with MRI and in genetic research--that suggests that every human being may have the capacity for profound powers and skills--for example in math, art or music and so forth--that are almost unbelievable.

In 1992 the `Human Brain Project’ was launched by government agencies “to build an omni-dimensional, computerized data base that synthesizes all the subspecialties of neurological research.” As part of this project, researchers at UCLA haves worked to build a map of aspects of the brain that may determine whether people think differently. When finished, perhaps by 2004, “the UCLA brain map will represent the most comprehensive picture ever produced” of the normal, healthy human brain. Researchers will be able to access it online “to call up 3-D images” to compare with someone’s brain. First, using 7,000 volunteers, the researchers looked at brain anatomy and next planned to map brain function. The amount of data being collected for a `brain atlas,’ is five times more than the contents of all books in the Library of Congress. “Ultimately, the atlas will be wedded to the even larger Human Brain Project and other studies.” (Kahn 2001) Ultimately the brain map may “sort out the nature/nurture debate.” Maybe it will then be found that it was neither genes nor environment that enhanced Einstein’s brain power, but it was a widening of his brain lobes “through heavy use, the way a weight-lifter builds muscle.” The focus now is on mending damaged brains, but ahead “is a whole untapped world” of trying to make normal brains really good; for example, helping them “think faster, more clearly, more consistently” and perhaps then to collaborate more effectively in collective which brings many minds together, <http://www.brainmapping.org> (UCLA Brain Mapping Center)

Howard Gardner (1999) in Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences has presumed that while “intelligence testing will remain with us indefinitely…intelligence is much too important to be left with the intelligence testers.” With what we now know about the human mind and brain, he says, “in the light of scientific and technological changes, the needs and desires of cultures all over the world have undergone equally dramatic shifts.” So educators need a better way of conceptualizing the human intellect. In efforts to `develop’ a person, more attention must be paid to “the skills and capacities of painters, writers, musicians, dancers and other artists.” As Gardner began to discover multiple intelligences he saw that a healthy body is also important for learning, intelligence defined as “the ability to solve problems or to create products valued within one or more cultural settings.” Later he conceptualized an intelligence as a biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture.” What is important for education? As part of our human birthright no two people have exactly the same intelligences in the same combinations. Intelligences, he reminds us, “are not created equal.” Also more knowledge about intelligences does not necessarily help educators solve some of their most fundamental problems. What is important is for teachers to know individual students well, their minds, their needs, their gifts and talents. Emerging new technologies increase the possibility of “individually configured education,” (3.3) an approach that “promises to be enhanced significantly by technology…that should allow for a quantum leap in the delivery of individualized services for both students and teachers.” It is already possible, Gardner says, “to create software that addresses the different intelligences, provides a range of entry points,” and that allows students to exhibit their own understandings in diverse symbol systems (linguistic, numerical, musical, graphic and more.). Software that can provide feedback and allow teachers to examine individual work flexibly and rapidly, even at a distance for Internet instruction. While much can be automated, new technologies will fail--as many old ones did--if not interactive with teachers and other learners. 

Gardner has proposed parallels with and differences between creativity and intelligence. People are creative when they can solve problems and can create something new or meaningful. Both creativity and intelligence involve problem solving. Creative persons ask new questions and “function within a domain or discipline or craft.” Becoming fully literate—not to mention other essential aspects of education--involves massive brain reconstruction on a continuing basis. Just being able to read involves `complex neural components of vocabulary and habits of formal thinking. (Donald 2001) Brain circuits are rewired through of intensive schooling and learning. The process is enhanced with experience in rich and stimulating environments where the functional architecture of human though is developed. “Multi-lingual people might have hundreds of thousands of lexical items, linked to a variety of grammars,” not to mention the impact on neural resources of “literacy in several different technical, mathematical, scientific and musical skills.” Together they involve large neural networks that are so complex that they might be called a `literacy brain.’

Donald has also pointed out that this is a cultural addition to the brain that determines to a great extent the operations of the conscious mind and “affects…the synaptic richness of certain regions and structures of the brain.” (He also discusses reading and writing disabilities.) Both creativity and intelligence involve problem solving. Creative persons ask new questions and “function within a domain or discipline or craft.” Becoming fully literate—not to mention other essential aspects of education--involves massive brain reconstruction on a continuing basis. Just being able to read involves `complex neural components of vocabulary and habits of formal thinking. (Donald 2001) Brain circuits are rewired through of intensive schooling and learning. The process is enhanced with experience in rich and stimulating environments where the functional architecture of human though is developed. “Multi-lingual people might have hundreds of thousands of lexical items, linked to a variety of grammars,” not to mention the impact on neural resources of “literacy in several different technical, mathematical, scientific and musical skills.” Together they involve large neural networks that are so complex that they might be called a `literacy brain.’ Donald also points out that this is a cultural addition to the brain that determines to a great extent the operations of the conscious mind and “affects…the synaptic richness of certain regions and structures of the brain.” (He also discusses reading and writing disabilities.)

These brain processes, Donald said, have not evolved in the Darwinian sense but are entirely cultural in origin. “Once they are fully automatic, they constitute a fast-track neural pathway by which verbal symbols can access the highest representative networks of the mind.” Literate culture “ has capitalized on untapped cerebral potential and reprogrammed the human brain in its own image.” This did not stop with the reorganization of the individual brain but transformed the collective architecture of cognition and changed how the larger human community thinks and remembers. says, have not evolved in the Darwinian sense but are entirely cultural in origin. “Once they are fully automatic, they constitute a fast-track neural pathway by which verbal symbols can access the highest representative networks of the mind.” Literate culture “ has capitalized on untapped cerebral potential and reprogrammed the human brain in its own image.” This did not stop with the reorganization of the individual brain but transformed the collective architecture of cognition and changed how the larger human community thinks and remembers.


More Englebart on augmented intelligence; <http://bootstrap.org/institute/bibliography.html>. 

Bill Joy (2005) has said that "we are not taking full advantage of the power of computers to augment our intellects." Restak (2001) discussed how technology can be used to augment brain functioning. Although experience has always been the driving force for brain development, he says, “Culture rather than biology is now the preeminent influence on brain development.” And today, that culture is inseparable from powerful new technologies. So educators should take account of the potential of `brain boosting’ technology. He quotes Clark’s Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together on technological aids that can offset “cognitive limitations built” into the human brain and “capable of enhancing” the brain’s performance. The power of the brain, Restak said, has increased by the advent of the computer chip and the technologies it can empower. Innovative software “can help…enhance different aspects of” the brain’s performance “such as speed of response, working memory, imagining ability, reasoning, calculation, abstraction and mental endurance.” This, he says, involves far more than a computer providing more information. Computers are changing the structure and functioning of human brains, as did pencil and paper. He describes his own use of a laptop to cross correlate each day’s entries with a record of the lifetime productions of his own brain. Within seconds he “can access any personal of professional information” entered at any previous time of his life including texts of all of the books he has written. He describes his own methods of using it that fit his own unique needs. However it is a mistake just to imagine augmenting one’s intelligence by using an individual computer. Rather, Intelligence Amplification (IA rather at AI, artificial intelligence), both for individuals and for collective intelligence, can be empowered by the Web as shared information network and support system.. Intelligence is currently defined in different ways. Information technology “is going to make us change the way we assess intelligence, the way we describe intelligence in order to assess it.” (Burke 1997) There has been a reductionist view of knowledge, Burke said, that thought that the more you know about less, the more intelligent you are.

It is reported (Learning 1996) that I.Q. levels in the USA rose 34 points between 1918 and the 1990's.  One classic way to assess intelligence has been to test the ability to use “logic and numeracy to split up the universe into smaller and smaller bits, without any clear way to fit them back together to understand the whole. Now information technology, he says, can make it possible “to see large scale patterns simultaneously with small-scale detail” and “see how knowledge interacts with knowledge.” Then, rather than seeing intelligence in terms of the ability to memorize something, educators “will start thinking of intelligence as the way people make imaginative links among data.” Because when we learn how the brain actually works we see that it is best at intuition and “we will assess people’s intelligence in terms of imagination rather than memory.”

The images of human brains, engaged in various tasks, projected in psychedelic colors show different parts of the brain lighting up as people read, listen, speak or think as technology made it possible to the biological topography, for example, underlying language use. (Montgomery 1989) And most important for educators, has been the confirmation by such research that everyone is an individual, that everyone’s brain is a bit different. Also, this research finds “that our emotions are absolutely critical.” And most important for educators, has been the confirmation by such research that everyone is an individual, that everyone’s brain is a bit different. Also, this research finds “that our emotions are absolutely critical.” 

Some instructors who take account of this research in their teaching have use much of what is reported about the brain in this chapter. They tell their students that the brain is `a social brain’ that searches for meaning through patterning or making connections. Learners therefore learn best when they are `immersed’ in complex, interactive experiences, when analysis is required for the student to grain insight about a problem and about how learning takes place, when intensive analysis is required and ”when feedback comes from reality, rather than an authority figure.”

In time, intelligence can perhaps be enhanced with brain implants or by the use of drugs. (See Osborn 2003)  Greengard (1977) described the work of Neuroscientist Thomas Berger and a team of seven scientists who were researching how to implant microchips in the human brain. That interdisciplinary team has sought “to unlock the brain’s complex mathematical model so they could bridge the gap between silicon and cerebrum” and “speak to the brain in its own language.” Their aim was to “create a parallel-processing network that could function as a brain implant” to help people who suffer from Alzheimer’s, stroke, epilepsy and so forth. Perhaps then the release of chemical reactions in the brain could bridge the gap between neurons in a way that might help augment intelligence also. Implants in rat brains have increased their pleasure, and Professor J. M. R .Delgado used “stereotactic instruments to implant microelectrodes in precisely targeted areas of the brain” of a bull, whose behavior in a bull ring could then be controlled by activating electrodes with a radio transmitter.” Subsequent research suggested to Berger “that he did not need to unlock the vast secrets of the brain to make an implant work.” 

“New research shows that aging brains are far more vigorous…than previously thought.” (Restak 2002). Brain functioning can be improved through body exercise (fresh blood and oxygen to the brain), through adequate sleep, better diet and in some cases use of vitamin E. Also noting the lightning-fast intellectual skills that some brain-damaged savants have, some research is investigating the possibility that all brains may have this ability, so savant research may uncover ways to enhance everyone’s cognitive abilities. Such long-range ideas, however, at this time take a back seat to exploring technology to augment memory. (Adams 2001) focuses on what goes on in the mind when one gets ideas. More important for education is how to help the brain retain important ideas and information. take a back seat to exploring technology to augment memory. (Adams 2001) focuses on what goes on in the mind when one gets ideas. More important for education is how to help the brain retain important ideas and information.

Future research may learn more about vibrations from rhythmic sounds that appear to have a profound effect on brain activity, such as the effect of  a steady  drum beat at certain rate and certain religious chants that appear to affect concentration, focus, alertness and creativity. There are brain wave frequencies that appear to heighten the mind. For example,  Beta waves aid concentration; Alpha waves, creativity; Theta waves, aid access to information from the subconscious and appears to awaken intuition; and Delta brain waves, associated with deep sleep, may be help the brain reorganize all the experiences of the previous day. (For more, see Oster 1973.) The Foundation for the Future (2002) discusses the possibility of increasing intelligence.

The ability to enhance the brain might also become a threat. Boire (2003) has warned that governments use drugs to "to manipulate the electronic state" of the brain as a "plethora of new drugs and technologies " make iit possible to augment, modulate and survey thinking."  Sherry Turkle (2004, surveying not only "what computers do for us" but also what they do to us, suggests that they are changing how we think and "different habits of mine,' not necessarily for the better. However, Luis Macado, former Venezuelan cabinet minister "for the development of human intelligence' asked in  2005: When everyone on the planet has the capacity has the right ability to use all of scientific knowledge it will `democratize intelligence.' Brain research see: <http:/www.technologyreview.com/blog>


Most people know much more more than they know that they know, and certainly more than they can remember when they need to know. Memories have long been enhanced by external technology such as manuscripts and books. Now computers with software help us do a better job of recording ideas, examining them, classifying and comparing just as physical objects are examined in a laboratory. We are helped to assemble ideas into “complex arguments much more easily than in biological memory.” (Donald 2001) Images in the mind can be fleeting and easily lost where images kept in computerized storage can be kept visible, searched and continually refined. They may be indexed and easily recalled. “They can revolutionize what a conscious mind can achieve.”

Donald was speaking of more than using `aids to memory’ to increase brainpower. The `external memory' can tap into neural networks “that are distinct from those of working memory.” Conscious working memory and external memory complement each other. This can give “awareness a much richer structure…which “can work wonders.” We are helped to assemble ideas into “complex arguments much more easily than in biological memory. ”The external memory can tap into neural networks “that are distinct from those of working memory.” Conscious working memory and external memory complement each other. This can give “awareness a much richer structure…which “can work wonders.”

 Huang 2003) reported on brain-computer linking research that "may make you smarter." Motluk (2000) pointed out that the ability to forget is essential for a healthy brain. Research is underway to find drugs that can boost the failing memories of elderly persons. Recent research find (Houston 2002) that "dopaminergic drugs can make it easier to encode things into the long term memory." This can be aided by research on how memories form in the brain and which are rejected. Memory, Motluk says, is like “code woven into cloth” which is remembered if neural networks in the brain are frequently renewed, but which may otherwise may be forgotten through decay or stored just outside of reach.

Donald (2001) further discussed how `thinking actively' links two memory locations and, he says, “These two classes of memory media, biological and external, are also parallel in their long-term storage functions.” Forgetting is essential for creative thinking and remembering too much detail can limit the brain’s capacity to see patterns that are essential for creative thought. At the same time, Motluk has reported, the average person spends the equivalent of 40 working days a year trying to remember things. Much time can thus be saved through the use of large-capacity external computer memory. It can facilitate reflecting upon thought and the products of thought and therefore can empower active, critical and creative thinking. “The external memory field provides a fast channel from the cultural universe to the control centers of the brain.” External memory can soon be instantly available through the use of memory chips being developed in 2002. 

Johnson (2003) proposed that we can soon preserve electronically our entire memory. Ten years of memory can now be preserved, he has said, on an "80-gigabyte drive that now sells for approximately $100." Within a decade one should be able to buy a drive that will give 60 years of storage for a penny a day. Even in 1997 we could already “keep in our notebook computers 10 years of the text of everything we have ever read and everything we have ever written,” a vice-president of Xerox said (Spinrad 1997) So It is now possible for all persons to have an accessible electronic record of everything they have learned, organized around their own interests, goals, professional plans.

Those educated in the 20th century should envy the secondary school and university students who in the 21st can begin to keep an electronic, readily assessable record of all they learn and know. Their own personal `Knowledge Construct’ (KC) can help them organize and define themselves at a deeper level as it includes and cross indexes all class notes, personal essays and research papers, reading notes, ideas, lectures, journals. Learners can then at any time trace the roots and beginning of ideas that are important to them as well as the ideas and experiences that later led to vocational and other major decisions. Software can make this process cumulative as each new study project is added to and becomes part of what some call the student’s enlarging “knowledge construct” (Wojciechowski 1986). All students can keep a computer record of every significant book and article they read, not only a bibliography but also their reading notes and their own personal ideas sug­gested by that reading. A laptop computer can be used then at any time to search through all that one has written or read, by author, title, or subject, or from word indexes and cross-indexes organized around current study projects and/or long-range interests and needs. All the information that students record can thus be preserved in three ways:

  • as the lecturer or electronic textbook presents and organizes it;

  • as learners reorganize the material in their own notes, as a way to understand it;

  • and as the student’s  software automatically places various kinds of information where it belongs in that learner’s “body of organized knowledge;” for example, including problem-solving cases, stories, immersion experiences. Critical thinking software may in time help a reader or listener to ask thoughtful questions about each line read. Links from each new idea considered can be created to related data when the software senses some new interest or curiosity.

Already the use of word processing in preparing term papers and research reports makes it possible for software programs to add all of such creative and scholarly work to the learner s personal knowledge base automatically. The written work can be preserved in its original form and, at the same time, can be taken apart or indexed so that ideas and information can also be deposited automatically along with a learner’s other information on the same topic, according to the personal knowledge base index. Each new paper or project can thus build upon, improve, and enlarge existing papers and knowledge-base sections. Duplication can be eliminated, reducing the volume of information in the electronic memory.

Creating `KC memory banks' should perhaps begin at puberty, the period of transformation to more active partnership and participation in learning. Pupils that age easily become bored and disruptive unless they are treated as individuals with differing interests and learning skills. This requires interactive learning devices that students can use at their own pace and that present information in a variety of ways. It then becomes possible to teach the student, holistically, rather than just the subject matter. Then the learner becomes part of the process. The tools not only transform and empower the learning environment, they transform and empower the learner. Conveniently retrievable, this personal Life-File can also maintain pointers to the Web, enabling an ongoing `personalization of the global.’ Then each learner’s unique characterization of needs and interests can facilitate searches, communications with others, professional activities and more. Thus there will be two quite different kinds of digital storage, the personal and the global, both alive and growing each day. Data is dead until it is organized into and connected with knowledge (and wisdom.)

This is not some futuristic dream. One student already in 1998 told of attending a lecture during which others around her were all connected to the Web. Some were taking notes on the lecture with a system that automatically stored, cross-references and indexed the notes in a database which held all their other information on that and related topics. In a sense these tools were creating for them a second brain that knew where and when to access and use parts of the lecture. Another student in 2002 told of a lecture during which several "were typing their impressions into personal `web logs,' online diaries that are available on the Internet. (See Lamb 2004 on many educational uses of blogging.)  One `blogger' (defined in 3.5.5) found evidence that the lecturer was not being honest in what he was saying about himself, and as the new spread electronically around the room the audience "palpably chilled...a danger...for public speakers everywhere!" (Houston 2002) Blogs by 2003 offered a vast number of photos and were being used for scholarly discourse (Glenn  2003) in disciplines as divergent as law and philosophy.<http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/whatMakesAWeblogAWeblog >.

One approach to memory enhancement is seen in IBM's "Total Recall' project, software Olsen (2003) described as "almost like memory, only better." Note also: <http://www.integrative-thinking.com/> from Austrailia.

Next, many kinds of personal electronic memories can be interconnected to empower individuals and research.


Connecting brains can next enhance intelligence. (2.4) It is not merely individual intelligence that is to be amplified, but `collective IQ’ should also be vigorously pursued. We have elsewhere (3.2) spoken of linking `electronic memories,’ first perhaps for coping with larger Problems. Integrating individuals into a Super-Brain has been discussed at a Global Brain workshop in these terms: Interaction between one’s own brain and humanity’s `collective brain’ can go two ways. The Web can learn from one’s pattern of browsing and in time will learn by directly asking questions. A smart web would continuously check the coherency and completeness of the knowledge it contains and thus assist the human brain to do so also. Using `knowledge acquisition’ and `knowledge elicitation’ techniques the computer-empowered Web would learn implicitly and explicitly from its users, while the users would learn from the Web. Thus, in a sense, the brains of the users would become nodes in the Web, stores of knowledge directly linked to the rest of the Web.

William Colvin (1999), at a Center for Human Evolution Workshop on the future of human intelligence, defined CI as the ability to find solutions to a problem or the logic of an argument, to discern an appropriate analogy, to create a pleasurable harmony, or to guess what is likely to occur next. Some of the characteristics of intelligence, he said, are skills at language, music, foresight, cleverness, versatility, and the ability to plan and to build narratives. These can be augmented when humans and the computerized web harmoniously work together. Groups of users could become so strongly integrated with the Web that the Web could literally become a `brain of brains’: a super-brain. Thoughts would run from one user via the Web to another user, from there back to the Web, and so on. Thus, billions of thoughts would run in parallel over the super-brain, creating ever more knowledge and collective intelligence in the process." '

One instrument, just mentioned above, is "an interesting development on the web of collective intelligence." (Houston 2002) A `blog'  might be called an individual's public diary for it allows others to read and add comments. It is often used  as a way to pass along information or to coordinate projects.  Lessig (2003)  has pointed out that the blog,  "where people gab," is a tool that creates community and where "a million ideas can form." A community of bloggers at work on a project can "cross reference each other, promote community and probably enhance overall collective intelligence." (On the use of blogs in  education see: <http://www.schoolblogs.com/> Many aspects of intelligence are highly correlated with each other, so, Houston says, there may be some common structures that many different kinds of intelligence share. "This commonality is what Spearman referred to as a `g,' or general intelligence.' It seems to be related to  to working memory performance that is in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and is under the control of a few major major neuromodulators, including dopamine and and epinephrine. So "(1) there exists evidence for the localization of  the ``g' factor component of intelligence in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and (2) the `g' factor is most likely realized as the psychological construct of working memory. (See earlier reference to dopamine research.)    

However, Restak has said, to “become a metasystem, thinking in the super-brain must not be just quantitatively, but qualitatively different from human thinking. The continuous reorganization and improvement of the super-brain's knowledge” comes through analyzing and synthesizing knowledge from individuals, and eliciting more knowledge from those individuals in order to fill gaps or inconsistencies is a meta-level process. Thus it not only uses existing, individual knowledge but actively creates new knowledge. “This controlled development of knowledge requires a metamodel: a model of how new models are created and evolve. Such a metamodel can be based on an analysis of the building blocks of knowledge, of the mechanisms that combine and recombine building blocks to generate new knowledge systems, and of a list of values or selection criteria, which distinguish `good’ or `fit’ knowledge from `unfit’ knowledge.”

So Bertman (2001) worried about `collective memory’ in this 21st century when there is so much ‘civic ignorance.’ Our culture’s `dumbing down,’ he says, “must be recognized as the loss of a longer-term set of historical memories without which no civilization can prosper or long endure. Among the five `memory killers’ that he describes, are the popular science and technologies that value whatever is new. Using electronic technologies that increasingly operate at the speed of light, people `go with the flow’ and lose sight of history. Events move by so quickly, he has said, that the past becomes a blur.” Stress has a great effect on brain functioning. Perhaps the antidote to that can be reminders in our personal electronic memories that regularly connect current ideas and projects to historical experience, but also crucial is the wholeness of education in the formation of the individual, of consciousness and of the unconscious.


If there is `collective intelligence’ and `emotional intelligence’ can there be `collective emotional intelligence?' Nobel Laureate Gerald Edelman (2000) has been using computer modeling in an effort to understand human consciousness by studying brain activity during conscious and unconscious states. He also underscores the complexity and uniqueness of each individual. “In higher organisms every act perception is, to some degree, an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.” Biological memory is one of the essential bases of consciousness. On learning to think: <http://www.learndev.org/LLT.html>. The future of humanity may depend on education that develops critical  thinking and imagination. Tailored learning programs will involve many disciplines.

Arguing for better learning experiences for students, Smith (2002) points out that "memory is a complex of associations ranging from intellectual, to emotional, to sensory impressions: the more associations, the deeper the memory is embedded." Johnson (2003) has proposed that he Web will be organized around minds, not just pages, as new architectures are developed so that wisdom as well as information can be present..

It is often asserted that television and films are reducing the human capacity for imagination and creative memory, which grew when people read, even when they listened to the radio. Some experimentation has shown that the capacity for creative imagination is increased through involvement with the arts. However, the physical body is not developed much through a passive watching of sports. Also, creative imagination grows as people actively interact with the arts; for example, dancing instead of watching dance; writing and producing plays, acting on stage instead of watching drama; playing an instrument rather than just listening to recorded music. This quality of education must in time be added to global distance education through holography and virtual reality developments.

Meanwhile, other voices (i.e., Harmon 1998) suggest that a major goal of international education must be a `global mind change’ by “expanding knowledge of the nature and potentials of the mind, and applying that knowledge to the advancement of health and well-being of humankind and the planet.” In a foreword to Harmon (1999) Hazel Henderson has insisted that human beings are “evolving, creative beings with powerful minds, loving hearts and the vision to see vast visas of opportunities and possibilities that beckon us towards a future of our own choosing.” Howard Gardner, too, has spoken of the importance of “moral intelligence,” reminding us of highly educated people of genius who have done terribly evil things. Neuroscience already by 1988 involved twenty or more disciplines in order to deal with every aspect of the brain. (Hellerstein 1988,) “The cell-to-cell connections in the brain are too numerous and variable to be specified in detail in a person’s genetic blueprint…every experience in an individual’s life alters and shapes that individual’s brain.” Indeed, human society and its social systems are `crippled by genetic tuning’ that only permits people to review and anticipate change over short periods ahead. The exponential rate of change `is outstripping’ education’s ability to adapt. Perhaps the holistic approach that sees the brain/mind as throughout the body, not just in the head, is perhaps a clue also for education to see that its `global mind’ and collective intelligence is distributed throughout human society and not just in the head.

As the Internet expands into whatever it will be, Sturnik (2000) said,  the capacity of the human brain can expand. New parts of the brain will be used and people will be able “to perform—imaginatively, intellectually and creatively—in ways no one in 2001 could envision.” People, “at the edges of their minds” will be able to explore new ways of thinking and being…as learning opens up every aspect of our lives.” And education for all? She says that “isolated rural communities can already connect” to others to discuss similar problems and needs. These “problem-solving communities” will naturally become global and multicultural as people in Minnesota connect with people in Egypt to discuss water conservation. But “throughout the world…there must be a collective will to bring about the transformation of whole systems based on the new understandings of the brain/mind/ and how it learns.” So it is not merely the individual brain that can be enhanced, but –more importantly—the collective imagination and intelligence. Freeman Dyson, according to Kelly (2002) "sees minds--amplified by computers--expanding into the cosmos `infinite in all directions." Philip Robin of the National Science Foundation (2002) has pointed to the urgency of tackling the difficult problems related to cognition on a very large scale. Osborn (2003) reports that "phenomenal abilities" re buried in human brains.

David Scott (2002) proposed that "the greatest challenge for learning is how we educate for a world that is a living, breathing organism rather than a hierarchical machine....The problem of learning may reside in our theories of the mind, but it is also possible that the mind has not been allowed to play with all the cards that the evolution of the universe has built in." He foresaw  a new theory of a holistic universe emerging.  Instead of focusing almost on cognitive, rational intelligence, new insights into learning may come from "exploring the full potential  of a  human being,' including kinesthetic, aesthetic, emotional and spiritual intelligence as well as the cognitive. "There may be a deep relation between the structures of the mind and of Universe,  he says. And learning research may progress to more integral levels of consciousness, "to more integrated human beings, and to a more just, caring and connected world.

So what about an `ethical/moral brain? <http://mattersofconsequence.com/MOCfig2.html>. Benking (2001) said that “there was hope in the past decades that the computer might become the new magnifying glass for the human intellect, but we really have to do the thinking ourselves, cultivating our imagination and creativity” and finding ‘ a new quality by combining the human intuition with machine precision and repeatability…We work on self models and extension systems.” He quotes Friedrich Ruckert: “Maps make the world comprehensible to us. We are still waiting for the star-maps of the spirit.”

Return to Chapter 3.4  |  Go to Chapter 3.6

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