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Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Sunday, 23 March 2008 17:31
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 1 - Basics & Golden Rules
Brains and Networks
The Golden Rules
When Things Go Wrong (Anxiety)
Basics About Intelligence
NHA Guide To Methods and Tech
Hacks and Exercices
All Pages



The Basics About Intelligence

The most popular questions most people ask when beginning NH come in two categories. One is ‘concrete’ and personal, applying only to yourself, such as, “How can I improve my intelligence?" or "How can I tell if my memory's getting worse?" or "How come I always wake up bad-tempered in the mornings?" or "What are my options in neurohacking for treating depression?” 

The other is a more abstract line of enquiry which asks collective questions that apply to everybody, such as: “Do people really make free choices or is their behavior the outcome of predetermined factors?” “Do our genes determine our intelligence?” “What makes people go senile?” and “Do people have to learn a lot of science to do neurohacking?” 

Maybe you have questions of both kinds, so we’ll start by saying that you do need to know a small amount of science if you’re going to go very far in neurohacking, but certainly not loads.

Ultimately all of our questions about intelligence are addressed in some ways by scientific research. Science isn’t our only source of information, obviously, but what it provides for us is explanations of how things work in terms that most of us can relate to and understand. We try not to use too many scientific terms in these tutorials because they are mainly practical and if you want more in-depth facts and theory you can use the library files.

In learning about intelligence itself, the first thing you may have to get used to is a whole new perspective on what intelligence actually IS, and this is because of the current astonishingly rapid rate of discovery in neuroscience. People like us are exploring right at the cutting edge of new research, and it takes months or more usually years for new information to “go public”. We have access to technology that is still experimental and that is going through clinical trials long before it hits the newspapers or hospitals.

This is why the first thing we asked you to do was “forget everything you think you know about intelligence”. When people begin NH, they are usually not up to date with what science actually knows now about the brain. So this next section is to bring you quickly up to date and to help dispel any misinformation you may have heard about the brain and intelligence.

Take your time, because catching up with the basic facts here & now will help you a lot. 




Myth Busting and Updating Your Knowledge - Changes in What We Know

Apart from complete nonsense (such as, “people only use 10% of their brains” –an apocryphal rumor which is probably only spread by those who do), some much older and more widespread beliefs about intelligence have been busted recently. Here’s an update: 

Intelligence is NOT IQ –This fact is going to take a long time to overwrite the old belief. The false belief that intellect equals intelligence is incorporated into everything, from education to personal self esteem and our understanding of ourselves, and it's a belief that has caused a great deal of unconscious anxiety.

IQ is a measure of intellect, which is only one small factor of intelligence. We now know that an optimal intelligence requires the following factors to be developed in the order listed below, to achieve its maximum potential:

  • Your physical senses and the brain’s physical condition [mainly N 1 & 2]
  • Your attention and orientation [mainly N1 & 2]
  • Your imagination and association skills [mainly N3]
  • Your perception [mainly N1, 2 & 3]
  • Your memory [mainly N3]
  • Your emotional stability [mainly N3]
  • Your creativity and ability to use tools [mainly N4]
  • Your intellect / IQ [mainly N5]
  • Your prediction, planning and strategy skills [mainly N6] 


Mimicry, procedural learning, social skills, empathy, decision making and judgment, natural morality and so on are also part of a healthy intelligence, but as we proceed we shall see that they all, without exception, rely on the same set of networks and on the few crucial factors listed above.


People who talk about their IQ are losers”

(Steven Hawking)


In the popular sense, evolutionary psychology often defines intelligence as the general mental ability to learn and apply knowledge to adapt to and creatively manipulate our environment, as well as the ability to reason and have abstract thought. A superior ability to interact with the environment and overcome its challenges is often seen as the most important sign of intelligence.

In this case, 'the environment' does not just refer to your physical landscape (eg. mountains, forests) or your surroundings (eg. home, workspace) but also to new circumstances, social contacts such as colleagues, friends, acquaintances and family, and complete strangers. The capacity to face the unknown in new experiences and learning, without fear and with eagerness to discover, is a hallmark of strong intelligence.

The split brain hypothesis: It is debunked. Basically it wasn’t true. We now know that the brain’s left and right hemispheres actually process different parts of the same tasks, instead of with the sharp specialization that was suspected formerly. The left hemisphere does indeed contain the “language centers” such as Broca's area that we knew of formerly, but the right hemisphere has symmetric language processing areas dedicated to understanding different aspects of language, and so on.

Freuds ‘archetypes’ and other Freudian terms: They are no longer used. Freud is now generally considered ‘pre-scientific’. You will not find any Freudian or Jungian or Pavlovian terms in the neurohacking tutorials or files, such as ‘ego’ or ‘subconscious’’, because they don’t describe in any useful way what is really going on, and they can confuse (like a map where the roads are in the wrong place). We use the word ‘archetypes’ in its original sense, referring to eidetic memory images, and this is unconnected to Freudian, Jungian, magickal, religious or any other systems.


All children are born geniuses, and we spend the first six years of their lives degeniusing them.” - (Buckminster Fuller)


The “nature or nurture” argument is over. The genome is not “fixed”. The discovery of the brain’s plasticity has shown us that both genes and an appropriately enriched environment are necessary for intelligence to develop and that sections of your genome can be turned on and off by making physical and environmental changes. (This is what “epigenetics” is all about.)

The question, “Are people born with genius or do they acquire it?” has been answered. Regardless of what we are born with, the optimal nurturing of intelligence’s development results in an optimal mind. And optimal development can be achieved at any age.

When Einstein died in 1955, neurologists almost got stuck in the mortuary door in their frantic dash to examine his brain, which he had considerately donated to science. It was found that most features of Einstein’s brain were pretty ordinary, not unusual at all, but that one specific network had much denser connections than do most of us, and this was the area associated with the spatial manipulation of visual imagery.

“Aha!” Cried the researchers, “That’s really important in mathematics! -This denser network must be what gave him his genius, because other people don’t have this!” It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately they were dead wrong. But they didn’t have fMRI in those days so we can forgive them for mistaking a correlation for cause and effect. The reality of the matter turns out to be the other way round; it is mainly what we are doing, experiencing and thinking about that changes the architecture of our brain.

That particular network grew dense connections in Einstein’s brain only because he used it so much for so long. Likewise, a violinist doesn’t take up the violin because s/he has an enlarged section of motor cortex in the brain for the dominant hand; s/he develops an enlarged piece of motor cortex in the brain because of using that network so much. That’s how plasticity works. Deliberate habits of thought and behavior can alter the genome, turning beneficial genes on and ‘rogue’ ones off.

This is a pivotal discovery that will be of vital importance to humanity’s future, and its potential has as yet only been grasped by a few. Fortunately, we are among them.

In the 21st century, the word "habit" carries a negative connotation. We forget that we can also use the word ‘habits’ in the context of things that are good for us. But brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously develop new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths, and even entirely new brain cells, that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks and enable new abilities.

So rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside “the known”— the more intelligent we can become. New habits we deliberately ingrain into ourselves create parallel pathways that can bypass the “old habit” roads.

Even our personality is not ‘fixed’. –Old ‘trait’ theories of personality have been proved inept. There is no such thing as ‘a creative person’ or ‘a bad-tempered person’. Everyone can be creative or bad tempered in different circumstances and with different (accidental or deliberate) development. Human ‘nature’ is malleable by nurture (and by lack of it!)

And now that you’ve read this section, we don’t expect to hear you using outdated terms!


What Can Neuroscientists Do Now that We Couldn’t Before?

We can associate structure with function. Researchers are now able to image and record the activity of networks and relate this to both neurochemistry and behavior, for example recognizing a face or a word, feeling an emotion, remembering a number, planning an interaction, empathizing, learning, or understanding an idea. As a result of all this, biological psychologists have now got a pretty expedient grasp of the links between the brain, the mind, moods and behavior.

We can see that brains and computers have limitations in analogy. People are fond of likening brains to computers and vice-versa. Your brain is organized very differently from your PC, however. Your brain, your mind, your thoughts, your intelligence, your awareness and your consciousness are all different things!

The brain is a self-organizing, general-purpose information processing system far more robust and adaptable than any computer. Most importantly, the brain is dynamic –it can change its own hardware as well as rewrite its own ‘software’. This is 'plasticity'; one of the most important things to know about in neurohacking.

We have a more holistic view: the mind-brain-body link. Many scientists once rejected the idea that the body’s immune system worked closely with the brain and endocrine systems to carry out its tasks. Such a finding would suggest that our mind could influence illness. Now we know that this is true, and an increasing number of studies show that the immune system is tightly connected to the nervous system, as well as to another communication network that uses hormones, known as the endocrine system. It appears that their three-way communication is vital for adequate health and performance of the body and brain.

This has led to further discoveries, for example on how emotions and attitude (and behavior) can influence illness, how toxins in the system lead to disease, and how the whole is influenced by communication between its parts and in relation to the environment.

NH has developed too. For thousands of years humanity has used natural substances and techniques for neurohacking to achieve the enhancement of intelligence or to treat mental problems. Those techniques and methods are equally effective today, but the 21st century neurohacker has a broader choice. Neural implants, pharmacology, biofeedback, neural stimulation, memory wiping, deliberate ‘paranormal’ experiences, sleep avoidance, medications that target transmitters, and even prostheses for parts of the brain are happening now. It’s a very exciting time, so welcome aboard!


Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 17:58