Neuro-sciences: does our brain have superpowers?

Neuroscience: does our brain have superpowers?


Even though it is already very active in our normal activities, our brain can do more, even much more.

Most people know that the human brain is limited. We all have little oversights and moments we would rather forget. However, fewer people know that our brains are hampered or restricted like a scooter with a speed limiter. Its potential is far from being exploited.

Many of us know people who have superpowers like perfect musical pitch, an oversensitive sense of smell, or insensitivity to pain. Others have a photographic memory, dazzling mathematical abilities, giftedness or hypersensitive empathy. There are even people around us who reach states of ecstasy or feel themselves going out of their bodies several times a week without any drugs. And unlike Marvel characters, they really do exist.

All of these people have pretty much the same kind of brains as us. Like us, they have bad days, faults and difficulties to overcome. In fact, their superiority in one area is often accompanied by difficulties in other areas.

Compared to the average brain, their brain cells often have some metabolic differences, much like those who have a digestive system that digests alcohol or fats better. Their brain tends to develop additional or stronger connections between cells at key times like in early childhood or when they are experiencing intense emotions. Their special connections sometimes give them weird sensations like when words or notes light up colors in their head (synesthesias).

Genetics and environment

Before birth and during early childhood, we forge millions of new neural connections every day and these connections are guided by the interactions between our genetics and our environment. 

In some, atypical brain connections will reveal particular traits such as dyslexia, stuttering or hyperactivity. Other people will develop enhanced functions like perfect pitch, math mogul, or superior memory.

Strong emotions and brain disturbances can also rearrange our brain connections. Becoming a parent creates new connections in our attachment systems that help shift our values ​​and become more protective of our offspring. 

Traumas and depressions can also forge new connections that make us hypersensitive. Even brain damage like a concussion or degenerative disease leads to reorganizations of brain connections that sometimes produce bursts of creativity or personality changes.

Both wealth and burden

The diversity of brain connection profiles is both a richness and a burden. Without it, there would be no people with superpowers. There would also be fewer people who have learning or behavioral difficulties. 

Ongoing research is trying to find a way to control the organization of brain connections with electrical or chemical stimulation neurons to compensate for difficulties such as Alzheimer's disease. There is only one step so that this research can one day also allow us to improve our memory, our judgment and our personality. Most of us would like to slow down the dementia of our loved ones, but what about planning a genie baby?

Future generations will have important ethical choices to face.