Nothing can exist if we cannot imagine it. More people know the full life history of Harry Potter, the “boy who lived” than that of Alexander Graham Bell. Yet one is fictional while the other is the inventor of the telephone. What makes the former as ‘real’ as the latter is the fact that we can all agree on the knowledge we have of him, the attributes that make him into a person and the things he accomplished.
All of this is exists in the shared mental model we hold of the world.
A recent study carried out by researchers at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands explained that:
Mental models are the mechanisms whereby humans are able to generate descriptions of system purpose and form, explanations of system functioning and observed system states, and predictions of future system states.
What we are learning through neuroscience is that the when the brain is considering true and not-true complex entities it utilizes a core network of connections that allows it to make a judgement between the ‘existence’ of something false (like Harry Potter) and a totally fake, made-up character that really doesn’t exist.
This theory of mind then finds practical applications in real-world problems like picking basketball players or enabling the mapping of a pretend-reality onto the accepted reality (like in role-play). This enables the development and practice of critical skills which via a phenomenon known as isomorphism can then be transferred into the real world.
Using tools which we didn’t have a decade ago we can now go into the mind and ask questions like “What makes one baseball player, really differ from another?”, “How is critical decision making different from one person to the next?”, “Why do some people thrive under pressure while others, of equal skill, cave in?”
The idea that there was talent married to practice (Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule) is undergoing a radical transformation. ‘Talent’ is now seen as a headstart brought about by specific circumstances and environmental conditions that have contributed to the creation of neural networks in the brain that allow specific modelling to take place. Practice without mindful awareness will bring about only incremental improvements even if the requisite 10,000 hours are put in.
The mind, it would seem, is key to everything. It is needed to model the world, guide perception, shape reality and bring about awareness of specific actions without which those actions lose a lot of their efficacy.
We are at the cusp of a new era driven by an ever-developing technology and a growing awareness. It is an era in which we realize that we can train our brains to perform better. We can develop talent even if we haven’t got it to begin with. And we can significantly increase our performance in pretty much anything, provided we can understand how something is done.
Brain analytics is central to all of this. If you can analyze something you can measure it. If you can measure it you can improve it.
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