Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!:
Ok, so some human intelligence researchers at Yale were minding their own business one day comparing our brains to monkeys.
They were trying to figure out what makes ours so great; since primates are so close to us.
And what they found was a bit of a surprise.
You see, many of the 180+ parts of our brains do very different things,
But Science is also finding increasingly-specific and weird bits inside those regions, and it surprises them every time, especially this one…
So first, it turns out that all brain-cells end-up in a completely different place in an adult than where they started out in a child,
But also that Evolution itself has a say in where all those trillions of little things go in an unbelievably-specific way.
And the Yale team found we have some very weird cells called THs in a strangely-coincidental part.
Go Speed-Racer!, Go!:
And those TH-cells do some awesome things.
They produce chemicals that make up the foundations of Reward, Anticipation-based Addiction, and Unbelievable Persistence.
Dopamine, & Human Intelligence; Location, Location, Location!:
And for some incredible evolutionary quirk, humans got them in just about the best place possible.
Now they say that the friskiest survive because they make the most babies.
*But humans are also incredible horn-dogs for something else, too: New Knowledge.
And that’s probably because the scientists found these crackhead TH-cells in the Freaking Smartest Part Of Our Brains!
They are right smack-dab in the newest, most creative, pattern-recognizing, traffic-copping, research-geeking part of the whole noggin:
The Neocortex, and also right next-to the even-fancier prefrontal-cortex.
And for the home-gamers out there, the neocortex is the main part that makes us so much smarter than animals,
Even on a size & weight-based comparison.
More Neocortex = More Smarts.
Sometimes You DO Win The Lottery Of Motivation & Human Intelligence:
So humans won the evolution-lottery by having the most-addiction-producing cells in the smartest area.
And an interesting scientist called Robert Sapolsky frequently lectures on how dopamine from TH-cells gets you absolutely locked-in to goal-oriented behavior.
*And this is the really important point: It’s THE ANTICIPATION that does it.
It’s not even the actual event.
And that means: Planning.
“Maybe” Is Brain-Crack:
And researchers proved the anticipation-thesis bit by experimenting on monkeys to see when their reward + addictive go-go hormone was highest.
1) It happened only when the reward for an action was intermittent; at only 50% of the time.
(which is also what Casinos do with games of chance, btw. & in a slightly different way, Facebook.)
But, the dopamine-rush didn’t happen when the payout occurred.
2) It happened once the monkey knew the game, RIGHT BEFORE he went to play it, based on his past experience.
And That’s One Of The Reasons We’re Great:
The significance is: This is why we’ve achieved so much & become so smart.
Because for some reason, when we get out there & learn something new, part of the process is familiar,
And there is a Massive dopamine release in anticipation of some kind of intellectually-exploratory success.
That creates Persistence.
It’s like having an inborn, chemical addiction that is Caps Lock For Awesome.
And it’s why we learn so much, & grow smarter.
The Endless Pursuit Of Goals:
And if you use what Dr. Sapolsky implies, It doesn’t just make us feel good,
It can & does makes us work FOREVER based on the pleasure of anticipation for a competence or investigation-based task.
And we are even worse at becoming addicted to it than the monkeys.
Many people will plan their ENTIRE LIVES merely in-anticipation of some future-reward.
It is like an entire network of little Sherlock Holmeses, endlessly shooting up a 7% solution of cocaine right in genius-town, just to keep chasing Moriarty.
So, Now You Know Why:
The pursuit of excellence is in the very physical fabric of your mind,
And those mystically-placed TH-cells make it feel FRICKIN’ AWESOME to do it!
So get out there & be great, you dopamine-addicted, intelligent human badass!
JUMP BONUS!: Sapolsky Vid explaining the power of dopamine-based anticipation that makes us such tenacious brain-improvers.
Photo, “Highway Light Show”, by Marlon Gengler
Video, via YT-Joseph Dominguez
• Source: Yale
• Via: Seeker
• Source Study: Science-Molecular and cellular reorganization of neural circuits in the human lineage