Archives for category: Hearing

Does I.Q. matter when looking at the super-successful in our world?

The recent New York Times article on natural skill, or I.Q., and practice suggests that I.Q. is the determinate factor in success, not practice. i.e. it doesn’t matter how long you keep trying, you’re more unlikely to get there unless you have a high I.Q. to begin with.

The initial evidence from Florida State University found that excellent violin players, by age 20, had slogged at it for over 10,000 hours, compared with just under 8,000 hours for the “good” players and not even 5,000 hours for the least skilled.

However, the working memory capacity (that is, the capacity of your brain to work on various items simultaneously – think of it as a computer “desktop”), which is a key part of intellectual ability, made a statistically significant contribution, i.e. if you took two pianists with the same amount of practice, but different levels of working memory capacity, it’s likely that the one higher with working memory capacity would have performed considerably better.

Michigan State University researchers recently found that compared with participants in the 99.1 percentile for intellectual ability at age 12, those who were in the 99.9 percentile (the profoundly gifted) were between three and five times more likely to go on to earn a doctorate, secure a patent, publish an article in a scientific journal or publish a literary work.

Don’t stop tinkling the ivories though… it may not lead to super-stardom, but it will lead to a lot of fulfilment. 🙂

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Imagine hearing colours, feeling sounds or tasting shapes.

If you look at the letter ‘4’ and see the colour “green” or have a relationship between the sound of a car horn and feel a pain in your right leg, or smell jasmine when you see a triangle, you could be a part of the less than 1% population who experience Synaesthesia.

Synaesthesia is basically a mash up of senses. A synaesthete receives the same sensory information as you or I, but somewhere in their somatosensory cortex (the parts of your brain that receive sensory information from your body parts) and association areas (the part that is involved in complex mental processes eg forming perceptions), they process the information differently and thus they experience an altered perception – or an altered state of consciousness.

Parts of a synaesthete’s brain when looking at a letter register a letter and a colour at once.

Neuroimaging studies using PET and fMRI demonstrate significant differences between the brains of synaesthetes and non-synesthetes. The degree of white matter connectivity (white matter being the fat that coats the grey nerve cells) in the fusiform gyrus correlates with the intensity of the synaesthetic experience. There is some dispute over the functionalities of the fusiform gyrus, but it is generally accepted that it is involved in:

  1. processing color information
  2. face and body recognition (see Fusiform face area)
  3. word recognition
  4. number recognition [questionable: may only be as a result of a global response of any generic recognition tasks, further statistical evidence needed]
  5. within-category identification

Some famous synaesthetes you might know include French poet Baudelaire, Hungarian pianist Franz Liszt and Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, who was said to hear tones and chords as he painted; for example yellow was the colour of middle-C on a piano or a brassy trumpet blast. For him, the combinations and associations of colours produced vibrational frequencies akin to chords played on a piano.

Famous novelist Vladimir Nobokov wrote that he associated the letter ‘r’ with a senstion of ‘a sooty rag being ripped’, while the letter ‘a’ he associated with weathered wood.

Needless to say, it helps in the creative process!

For more information on the sensory clashes go to http://www.uksynaesthesia.com/.

Thank you to Wikipedia, and ‘Psychology 2’ by Burton, Westen and Kowalski.

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