A December article in Scientific American by Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, "Get Better at Math by Disrupting Your Brain," makes some fascinating observations about brain function. It is short and worth reading. A few excerpts:
We tend to believe that our brains work as well as they can.
Being better in math does not mean being smarter at everything. But we assume that, at least within a given domain, better behavioral performance implies superior brains, because we take it for granted that the brain is working as well as it can to optimize behavior.
However, a growing number of instances in clinical neurology and a growing body of research in cognitive neuroscience reveal that this assumption is incorrect. . . . For example, if the brain optimizes behavior, disruption of normal brain activity ought to lead to a loss of function, and never to enhancement. And yet, in some instances, disruption of brain activity . . . can result in a paradoxical behavioral improvement.
Behavior after damage, or after the modulation of activity in a given brain area, reflects the capacity of the brain and its networks to adapt to the disruption. The final behavioral consequence of a brain injury may be worsened performance, but also, paradoxically, improved performance, or even recovery from the deleterious consequences of a pre-existing insult or disease.
Read the article to understand the title of this blog post!