How does the brain work and how does it makes sense of the world? The history of human intelligence can be seen as the brain’s search for ways of communicating effectively with itself and outside of itself.

The simple line, drawn by the first humans on a river bank or on the cave wall for the first time, represented a revolution in human consciousness which precipitated language, communication and learning.

As soon as human beings realized that they could express their internal “mental pictures”, development was fast. The first marks evolved into pictures, beginning with the early Australian Aboriginal cave paintings. As ancient society became more sophisticated, pictures became symbols and later into alphabets and scripts, such as Chinese characters or Egyptian hieroglyphics. With the advent of Western thought and the spreading influence of the Roman Empire, the transition from picture to letter was complete. For the next 2000 years, the spread of the letter-powered civilization, its technology and economy, was at a level that its predecessor, the humble image, could not sustain.

When the first marks were etched on sand or walls, it started the momentous leap in the evolution of intelligence, for they were externalising the first traces of the mental world. In so doing, they were fixing their thoughts in time and space, and also enabling their thoughts to span those same dimensions. Human intelligence could now communicate with itself across the infinite reaches of time and space.

Writing owed its existence to symbols, images and ancient codes, and it was writing that was responsible for the emergence and development of large-scale civilization such as those in Mesopotamia and China. The people in these societies had an obvious advantages over those who had yet to develop writing, and therefore did not benefit from the transference of the wisdom and knowledge derived from great minds of the past.

Like a stream that trickled from a melting glacier, the transmittal of information soon became a raging river once the ice melted over the centuries, forming the ‘information flood’ we have today. In recent times this ‘flood’ has been partly caused by the assumption that writing is the only correct vehicle for the learning analysis and dissemination of information.

How do we deal with this flood of information that we face today? We are so inundated with the constant flow of information that we need a new ‘software’ for the brain to cope. The answer may lie with the predecessor of the written language itself, images.

This amazing machine, your brain, has five major functions – Input, retention, thinking, outputting and controlling, explained as follows ;

1. Input
Anything received by any of your senses.

2. Retention
Your memory, including storing (the ability to retain information) and recall (the ability to access that stored information).

3. Thinking
Recognising patterns, making sense of what you received and information processing.

4. Expression
Speaking, acting or drawing. Any form of communication or creative act, including thinking.

5. Controlling
Referring to all mental and physical functions.

The five categories all act in synergy with each other. For instance, it’s easier to receive data if you are interested and motivated, and if the receiving process is compatible with brain functions. If you have effectively received the information, you will find it easier to remember and make sense (analyse) it. Conversely, effective retention and making sense of the information will increase your ability to take in information.

Similarly, analysis, which involves a complex juggling of information-processing tasks, requires an ability to hold (retain and associate) that which has been received. The quality of the analysis will obviously be affected by your ability to receive and hold the information.

The first three functions mentioned above leads us into the fourth – the outputting or expression by a controlled process, speech, gesture, etc, of that which has been taken in, retained and analysed.

The fifth category, controlling refers to the brain’s general monitoring of all your mental and physical functions, including general health, attitude and environmental conditions. This category is particularly important because a healthy mind and a healthy body are essential if the other four functions of taking in , retention, analysing and expressing are to operate at their at their full potential.

If writing is indeed the best way of taking in, analyzing and passing on information, why are so many people having problems in the fields of learning, thinking, creativity and memory? Why do they complain of basic inability, stress, loss of self-confidence, loss of interest, and reduced powers of concentration, memory and thinking?

Different response come from different people and the most common responses to these problems include self-deprecation, low motivation, apathy and the use of acceptance of stiff and inefficient rules, all of which further slow down the natural functioning of the brain. We have taken the written word, the sentence, logic and number as the foundation stones of our civilisation which we assume are the only correct ones.

Why do we keep doing this? Because it has served us well in the past, but we must remember that there were no precedent for a more effective way, until now. It is therefore understandable that we have ‘experimented ourselves’ into the momentarily uncomfortable position which served us well in the past but is not efficient in the age of information explosion.

Research and the physiological and psychological evidence gathered have shown us that the brain contains vast power waiting to be harnessed. To find out more about the brain’s true potential and how to utilize it, we need to look at those brains historically considered to be ‘genius’.

From the notes of the ‘great brains; of the past, we now know that they remembered information, analysed data and conceptualized ground-breaking ideas in the form of images and key words. The brain thinks at the speed of light and to slow it down with chunks of written word is like putting speed bumps in front of a Ferrari. So the next time you need to brainstorm an idea or difficult problem, consider doodling. The next time you need to remember a speech or memorise large chunks of information, consider using images and emotions.

Author's Bio: 

Martin Mak is a memory and learning expert and has developed a new program to immediately help you to improve your memory and accelerate your learning. Subscribe to his popular FREE ecourse at =>