Does the Human Brain Possess Potential “Super Powers”?

« The Voiceless Phone -Silent Calls with Nerve-Reading Technology | Main | The Tangaroa Expedition in Antarctica: New Extreme Species Discovered »

March 25, 2008

Does the Human Brain Possess Potential “Super Powers”?

Brain_power_memory_2_3 A Daily Galaxy post last year, The Importance of Being Forgetful, featured the built-in neural process of forgetting, which discussed why the average human brain is equipped with the ability to filter through seemingly irrelevant details. While the average person may not have vast memory resources, it appears to be an evolutionary trade-off that allows the majority of us to focus on the most relevant facts.

However, some of the most incredible minds on Earth lack this ability to filter irrelevant facts, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that to a savant, the irrelevant IS relevant, and incredibly so. Somehow their brains are able to store and access incredible loads of information, even perceiving and relating to this information in an entirely different way.

Stephen Wiltshire is considered an autistic savant. He has an ability which can certainly be described as a “super power”. Sometimes referred to as the “human camera”, Wilshire has the unnerving ability to draw exact replicas of intricate structures, buildings and landscapes—virtually anything he lays eyes on—after a quick glance. Without taking notes or drawing rough sketches, Wiltshire methodically replicates what his eyes have seen down to the exact number of windows in tall skyscrapers.

While watching a video (see link below) of Stephen drawing Rome, it almost seems as if he is a character straight from NBC’s popular TV series Heroes—born with a superhuman ability. Like many other savants, Wiltshire’s mind is a mystery. He did not speak his first words, “pencil” and “paper” until he was five years old. Savants like Wiltshire seem to have been born fundamentally different.

Imagine being able to learn one of the most difficult languages on Earth, Icelandic, in just 7 days. Well known Savant, Daniel Tammet, makes is look easy. His extraordinary abilities are linked to synesthesia. He “feels” numbers in terms of texture, shape and color. Some scientists believe that the epileptic seizures he suffered as a small child, which nearly ended his life, somehow unlocked the door to an incredible ability that may be inherent in all humans.

Individuals have been known to develop extraordinary abilities much later in life, or after severe brain trauma. Alonzo Clemons, for example, developed an incredible talent, which appears to have emerged directly following a head injury as a child. He can see a fleeting image (on a television screen for example) of any animal, and in less than 20 minutes sculpt a perfect replica of that animal in three-dimensional accuracy. The wax animal is correct in each and every detail, down to each fiber and muscle.

Similarly, Orlando Serrell did not possess any unusual skills until he was struck by a baseball on the left side of his head on August 17, 1979 when he was ten years old. Serrell suffered from a long headache, but after the headache ended, Orlando inexplicably had the ability to perform calendrical calculations of amazing complexity. He can also recall details of his life, like the weather, where he was, and what he was doing every day since the day that baseball hit his head.

Because of cases like these, some scientists believe that the potential to express multiple super-abilities is a universal trait, but is obscured by the normal functioning intellect. In the case of some savants, it is believed that damage to the brain has somehow disrupted normal functioning and therefore allows the brain to express these incredible skills and abilities. Various researchers have noted how many “disabled” individuals are simultaneously “superabled” through some little understood phenomenon. 

Mind expert Allan Snyder of the University of Sydney and director of Centre for the Mind, is certain that all people have these latent super abilities, but only some are able to express them through “malfunctions” of overriding brain functions.

"They are exceptional in that they can tap in and somehow we can't. They have privileged access," said Snyder.

So, if all of us have latent super-abilities, is it possible to activate them permanently, or at least periodically, without compromising normal brain functioning? Probably, say the Australian scientists who used transcranial magnetic stimulation to temporarily switch off the frontal temporal lobe of volunteers.  Afterwards the subjects showed an immediate improvement in calendar calculating, naming the day of the week of any recent history event, and in their artistic abilities. Of course these were just the abilities tested. Scientists do not know all of the latent abilities that humans may possess.

It has been predicted that more advanced neurological studies may someday discover how to allow “Regular” people to tap into the incredible latent powers of their own mind, and thereby unleashing some of the “superhuman” potential in all of us.

Posted by Rebecca Sato.

If you liked this article, please give it a quick review on Digg, Reddit, or StumbleUpon.Thanks!


Stephen Wiltshire draws Rome

Stephen draws Tokyo

David Tammet
Video: Tammet demonstrates his mathematical genius

David Tammet interview with David Letterman

related post: The Importance of Being Forgetful


Icelandic is NOT one of the most difficult languages in the world, it is on par with the other Scandinavian languages and far simpler than any of the languages that use cases, such as Finnish.

How difficult a language is depends also on what your native tongue is. Obviously, a language with a different written alphabet than your own is going to be more difficult for you.

synesthesia is a disorder of sensory organs than a super natual ability (some time it generates creative outputs like in the case of Valdimar Nabokov) .Intutive powers of Mind can be fine tuned because of conditioning .The part of Phantom brains as proposed by VS.RAMACHANDRAN (Neurologist MIT)
is in resonance with Super power concept and both are only illusions not hardwired to reality . Unlike the brains of Einstein or Erwin Schrowdinger
which has the ability to wonder about and under stand the cosmic dance of Universe

Yeah! Icelandic is sooooo easy. Lets see this Tament guy tackle Finnish in a week. Forget it - might take him 10 days. Bah!

If this is true, it leads to an interesting question of why, from a sociological and evolutionary perspective, these abilities are latent. That might be something to look into before we all start whacking our heads with bats.

I don't care if Icelandic isn't one of the hardest languages, anyone learning a language in seven days is pretty phenomenal.
Also, I did a great deal of research on synesthesia, and it often helps those who "suffer" from it remember things a great deal better than normal people would.

These so-called "super powers" of these men are nothing new...

My girlfriend can remember word-for-word what I said, what I didn't say, how much I drank (which is always 6 more cocktails than I can remember), how much of a fool I made of myself, and what day it happened.

The only reasonable explanation is that men must hit themselves in the head with a baseball to catch up to women.

I also have superpowers: in screwing up with women. I can get rejected by thirty or more women in just 7 days. top this, Daniel Tammet.

Finnish is NOT a scandinavian language, and Finland is NOT part of Scandinavia, thank you very much.

Ok, then use Nordic. That applies, right?

What? Geographically, Finland is most definitely a part of Scandinavia irrespective of the fact that the Finnish language is unrelated to the other Scandinavian languages. Whilst Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Faroese and Icelandic are related and have similar roots, Finnish is a member of the Uralic family of languages and completely different. Icelandic isn't as difficult as they make it sound here. I think the reason why Daniel Tammet's testers chose the Icelandic language is because it's very isolated and the risk of him being previously exposed to the language would be very low. It only has around 300 000 speakers and 280 000 live in Iceland. I agree that Finnish would have presented a greater challenge.

It appears of Daniel Tammet already speaks Finnish, as well as English, French, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Romanian, Estonian, Icelandic, Welsh and Esperanto. Personally, I'd like to see him get dirty with Chinese, Japanese and Korean next.

Being from Iceland i can say that Icelandic is pretty damn hard, even for a native. I've learned Danish and English in school and both were very easy for me to learn, compared to learning my own language.

To say that Finland is one of the Scandinavian countries is a very common misconception. The Finns are not Scandinavians, and not only because of their language. Their history, culture and sociological background is not connected to Norway, Denmark, Sweden... or Iceland.Want confirmation? Look up "Scandinavia" in any good encyclopedia.

most of us agree that finland is not part of scandinavia. that was misinterpreted - never implied by lyle.

"Super powers." Give me a call when people engage abilities like telepathy and telekinesis.

(On a side note, I've almost died several times in my life. I was a very difficult birth, and I had a number of near-drowning experiences. I wouldn't say I'm telepathic, but I have a pretty uncanny and sometimes scary intuition level.)

I am sorry, but what has the location of Finland to do with this article, please take your I know better than you discussion somewhere else .. thanks

Yes, enough of this Finland nonsense which has nothing to do with the article.

More importantly, how quickly could he learn French? 6 days? 8 days?


Man must grow his knowledge and the time has arrived to awaken the sleeping parts of the brain on new Earth. This ability will be available to all inhabitants on New Earth and man will be able to use 100% of his brain. Man’s brain has the capability to store infinite knowledge on the New Earth inhabitants will be taught this wisdom, so man can realize his true potential. On new Earth inhabitants will learn how to use the telepathy and telekinesis powers this-- knowledge is essential. These dormant gifts man already have but they just need to be awakened. Once you master these powers you will realize what kind of possibility you will have that is much easier can be accomplished by using the powers of your mind. Every individual has to learn how to receive and send own thought telepathically and learn how to use telekinetic power to move objects without hands.

Well, it's the third article about mental extra capacities of the brain, thanks for not mention Uri Geller or the russian that made the women to orgasm all together. Can you make an artice of the most famous fakes of the world. Thanks.


Your claim that Finland has no sociological, cultural or historical connections with Sweden is ridiculously false.

Finland was a part of Sweden from 1250 until 1809, and the swedish speaking part of the population in Finland continued to constitute the ruling upper class until Finland became an independent nation in 1917.

Although the Finns don't speak a scandinavian language, Sweden actually has much stronger historical ties with Finland than with any other nordic country.

Ah, by the way, well, all of us had read about the computer with the mental-thinking control but maybe you can make a history of how they developed it, well, i've seen at least two programs in tv about mental control of a pointer or visual control of a pointer.

Nedo wrote ...Man must grow his knowledge and the time has arrived to awaken the sleeping parts of the brain on new Earth.....

Geez, There's 15 seconds I'll never get back. The mind has no mechanism for telepathy; the ability to send or receive the thoughts of other minds (despite how I wonder how my wife sometimes 'knows' what I'm thinking). And the mind has no mechanism for interacting with the physical world other than using the body it inhabits. Telekinesis is a fantasy.

As for the article, I imagine of those with such 'ability's' that understand what is happening to them, most would give anything to be 'normal'. Nonetheless, the article is implying that perhaps we can tap into these abilities, and that would indeed be interesting.

I will clarify my post a bit, in that we have machines that are capable of sensing the small electrical currents of nerve impulses and therefore we could say that the mind is being used to control these machines, but only in so much that the mind controls the biological machinery it was born with. We are merely at the first stages of 'cyborg' technology... to coin an oft misused term. This isn't telekinesis.

I once bragged that I could lift a full glass of water using just the power of my mind. Naturally, no one believed me, so I reached out my hand and lifted the thing.

It's easy to forget that everyday life is a miracle, and we use the amazing powers of our minds all the time; it's called living in reality.

stupid question. why? imagine you get a huge pile of printout containing all the positions of every atom of a certain object. only a genius could read all that data and figure out what kind of object it is. when this very information is differenty presented, lets say as photons reflected by the molecules of the object hitting the retina of a human, the brain can immedeatly categorize "oh, this is a car" even if the specific human in question has never before seen this type of car.

Two comments:

First, although we may not have unlocked the total potential of our brains, our brains are incredibly proficient at what they do (even when we forget where we left our car keys). The myth that we only use 10% of our brain is just that - a myth. Brain imaging experiments demonstrate that the areas of the brain act as networks.

Second, these "superpowers" have all come at a substantial "cost". Yes, the individuals described have incredibly abilities but they also have extensive disabilities. I wouldn't view it as "normal cognitive functioning" preventing superpowers; rather normal cognitive functioning requires substantial cooperation/coordination across brain regions. When specific skills or traits are (over)developed, the balance of functioning is disrupted and other cognitive functions suffer as a result.

In my 70 plus years on this planet I have not observed even the slightest hint that man posses a superior brain, in fact many do not appear to posses any brain at all. Einstein is quoted as saying he could not bring himself to believe he was a member of the human race and he came to this conclusion without the aid if the internet and the ability to read some of the posts available here.

I do not agree that this is priviledged access. Just like everything in life humans LACK HABIT of thinking or testing themselves in certain STEPS. Lack of BEING CHALANGED is like a retiree trying to solve differential equation. I think that TAPPING into "unknown" brain powers has ONLY to do with habit of challanging OUR BRAINS like, play SUDOKU one day, second day play CHESS, next day try learning Chinese,.... you get the POINT....So all of this is TOO SIMPLE for any human to comprehend....JUST DO IT and stop making us "little GODS" since we are NOT.

On old the earth man’s knowledge has been restricted and he was only able to use less 10% of his brain. People have an argument about something what they do not understand. You should know that ET uses the planet Earth as a laboratory for experiment of “Free Will” where humans were allowed to do anything they wished and man must live like mice in this laboratory. The closest star to the Earth is 4 light years, and humans have to live in isolation from the rest of intelligent life in space.

there "cost" of such abilities seems negligable if a "long headache"is the only payment required from the baseball in the head incident.
Sure, there are others who have had disabilities which prompted the body to compensate for,like a blind persons hearing increase ETC.
But some of these cases simply required a switch being thrown ih their heads....(in this case their frontal lobe being turned off temporarily)
These being the price of some super ability being generated it seems rather cheap and simple after all....
The mind is basically electro chemical in operation, one would expect that it may be susceptible to stimulation by these forces....
Perhaps a drug, and therapy combination could unlock the power of mind permanently someday.....
For now it would be nice just to remember names, and phone settle for thaT

there "cost" of such abilities seems negligable if a "long headache"is the only payment required from the baseball in the head incident.
Sure, there are others who have had disabilities which prompted the body to compensate for,like a blind persons hearing increase ETC.
But some of these cases simply required a switch being thrown ih their heads....(in this case their frontal lobe being turned off temporarily)
These being the price of some super ability being generated it seems rather cheap and simple after all....
The mind is basically electro chemical in operation, one would expect that it may be susceptible to stimulation by these forces....
Perhaps a drug, and therapy combination could unlock the power of mind permanently someday.....
For now it would be nice just to remember names, and phone settle for thaT

The internet is full of idiots...

Do you people hear yourself? Self-boasting, hate spouting, crap.

"I almost died and I'm spooky"
"x fact is wrong, but i have no evidence to link"
"this is dumb, I thought they ment super powers like the comics"

Do you read this before you post it?

There are people here posting well, adding to the pool of thought and analizing the data avalible and producing new ideas and opinions. To them I say thank you.

The rest of you though, please, go back to your AoL chat rooms.

I realize the hypocrisy of this post, but I'm too tired of seeing this nonsense go unanswered.

Yes, the most important question is, why sociologically and evolutionarily, these powers are latent till now, whereas evidently these are plus points for any human who possesses these. This certainly contradicts the intuition of Survival of the Fittest. It is indeed surprising that this kind of mutation has not swept over the human species till now. Acute sense of smell has become latent because humans stopped using it for survival. A pair of large feet has not developed because it is useless in human evolution. But super brain powers? Oh God, come on, this is indeed very very useful! Why the rare cases of mutations have not accumulated through inheritance?

That is the real question and research should follow this track. Hope the "new earth", as mentioned by one of the posts, will indeed be a truth in future!

Quite interesting story.

I think that everyone (except the ones, who argue about the hardest language in world) have their point. Yet I found most interesting the last comment. It is quite logical question - why we haven't evolved to "super-brain" level? I think that answer is closer than it looks like - we haven't had enough time. But evolution is happening - consider, for example, what humans knew about nature laws and processes some 50 or 60 years ago, and what we know now. Progress is huge. And not only in science. Sport, medicine, military, IT... It seems more probable that we haven't utilized our present brain capacity, yet we want more. Humanity, be patient.

I believe that when there will be need, we will continue our evolution journey. Just my thoughts.

[Btw, sorry if my grammar is not so good - haven't practiced written English for quite a while]

Re: Survival of the Fittest

I'm no so certain that it quite works that way. I believe that Darwin's notion of Survival of the Fittest was expressed in the context of survival of a species. Although certainly within the members of the species, it makes sense that the "stronger" ones survive, the phrase refers to "fittest" and not "strongest".

In that context, perhaps for a species to survive, it needs "weak" members as well. Likewise, having "super" abilities probably doesn't really help us in our quest for world domination. Humans are doing that perfectly fine on their own whether they are smart or dumb. Our abilities to use tools and shape our environment to our liking has put us on the forefront of the evolutionary ladder -- to the point where we are our own greatest enemy.

(In fact, one might point out that dumbness seems to prevail...)

Until we see another mighty struggle, whether we "fit" or not is not really a question that needs to be answered. However, if evolution didn't produce (by chance) these differences, then at the time of crisis there'll be nothing to set us apart.

Have you ever heard of giving someone a placebo and then their brains release chemicals? Is that legal? Or even ethical?

Interesting report. It seems to me that the human brain has extraordinary powers which we aren't using.

Our forefathers may have relied on intuition, internal perception and instincts much more than we do today. As our conscious, intellectual and logical minds have developed, perhaps our other awareness skills and internal intelligence have declined and atrophied.

Animals may have anomalous cognition abilities that are superior to that of humans in many ways.

Future generations need to learn about the remarkable abilities of perception we all can tap into, in order to succeed in attaining knowledge and understanding.

Such knowledge and understanding would be very useful in ongoing human development and in achieving a very bright future for all of us, and the future generations.

According to me the peice of article displayed is a wonderful one.infact after reading this piece of article i have started getting confidence in brain.This has actually unleashed the unknown capacities of my brain.

Isaac Asimov wrote a story titled "Sucker Bait" where young children with certain mental talents were sent to schools where they were trained to memorize huge data sets and correlate between them. This also had the side effect of giving them personalities like someone with Asperger's or high-functioning autism (or perhaps enhancing a personality that was already like that).

It's really striking considering how long ago the story was written - 1954 - and that people only recently have started regarding autism as potentially useful and not solely dysfunctional.

The memories were probably latent to help deal with emotional damage. If you remember a tragedy vividly you are less likely to recover or go near similar situations again. With how many people died on an average basis that people knew up until recent years it was probably for the best. My problem is not with memory but if I go to draw something or make a sculpture of something or ext, my hands can't keep up. I see it in my brain very clearly and have ever since I was 3 and can describe something in exact detail but I just can't put it in art form.

I haven't tried to remember stuff like calculus but I hate math anyway and do what I can to avoid math problems. I hit my head, still have the scar 14 years later, when I was 3. Ever since I can remember more then the normal amount of details of past memories and I've never forgotten where I was and when since then. However I've also had splitting headaches for as far back as I can remember. It aches in my forehead and it takes really strong medication to get it to stop.

Whenever I'm off the meds my head throbs in pain and it's been getting worse as I get older, but whenever I'm on it I'm not as attentive and I miss little things that I don't normally miss. I've been taking the meds for a year to keep the headaches away and I still get them badly but not nearly as often.

Anyway, point is if it comes at such a cost I don't think it's worth it.

I have something weird going on with me at the moment and to be honest i do not like it. Il give you some examples With my right ear i can like focus on a sound really well i can just like feel it its hard to explain. I can be in my home with my music on full blast, there is a car outside i can hear that it is turned on i can feel that its turned on i can hear all the parts of the car working. I do not know how to control this though , it has only happend to me today i can hear anything out of my right ear that makes a vibration like a street light turn on , people walking. i can mainly hear cars because they vibrate more.

In my left ear i just have a silent ringing but i can still hear normally out of it, i just woke up like this and dont know what is wrong with my ears, can someone help, shed any light on what they think is wrong with me ?

Im not a college grad or even a high school grad but i do know things i have learned and the human brain to me isnt that hard to understand its an ai it learns as you go. things you do has an affect on the brain im not saying that people gets headachs from being hit in the head but that might not be the reason for it it might be that your brain is storing too much information all at once with out you knowing it and concentrating on one thing anyone will tell you that it will give you a headach but as for all the so called famous scientists and all the acheivments they so called made i wouldnt put that down as any good achevement look at albert eistien he invented the most pwerful weapon of massdistruction
and he hated himself for it i do know that so where has humans gone any farther than our forfathers we just know how to kill more afficently our brains isnt evolving we are just useing them if they were evolving then we would have the forsight to see that creating all these mechins are killing this world to me the greatest achevement of the mind would be farming cause after the economy falls due to the war where will all our achievments ean anything cause we want be able to use them or aford the nessary equipment to opperat them people how taken the brain for granted and all the money they use on the study of it needs to go to the problems of the world and let these powers stay in comic books not in everyday life and im not saying that i dont apreciate the things we have today im just saying we done better without them there was less to worry about and ill give you an example 911 if we hadnt invented plain would that have happened maybe but it would have been har for it to and all the car accidents if cars were not made to go so fast or made at all would there be loved ones out there morning the loss of there loved ones what i am saying the proposal of a new world and useing more than what we need is rediculos cause if we go any further than where we are now then we have sealed our fait cause we are killing ourselve by evolving things that doesnt matter cause befor we had all this stuff we had families that cared and people who knew what it ment to be alive now all we know is wasting our time wundering what could happen if we were smarter people use to be close you know the cavemen had it right hunt as one and live as one eat as one now we bearly can be in the same room with people due to progrss now someone tell me im wronge for posting ths and if so e-mail me your thaughts on this and if your able to convince me other wise i will change my points of views about it. my e-mail is{} and take into consideration that im not meaning to make anyone mad but if oyu agree please send me your e-mails to

iwant to know alot

Holy shit Troy. You not only defeated yourself in your logic; but you did so with flying colors and wonderously bad grammar.

So, that said anything can be taught to the brain.
Why are we acting like this is new shit. Would you REALLY want to remember every damn detail of everything, all the time? Sometimes I LIKE to forget.

Yea, the brain has potential, sure its capable of storing masses of info. But, um, it's still only so big; so without bigger skulls and more surface area, the trade off is always going to be in another area of the brain.

Even Einstein's brain was less developed in one area that made a larger area for his math processing center to fill. So if you want to be a veggie just to do what we invented computers to do... go for it. Ironically stupid now that I mention it no?

I say that evolution gave us progress not vice versa. e.g. Progress is not evolution to counter one poster. We are able to create and envision things to make simpler the tasks of our minds. The mind loves to wander and do things at its leisure.

So we have contraptions to make life easy for our minds. More time to do what fulfills it. People not good with math use calculators. Some people's hobbies are what enrich their brain.

Also what would we need telekenesis for? We have hands. Sure you THINK it would be useful and cool. But then evolution pretty much made sure we could only take what we got our filthy mits on. And isn't that damn lucky for you and your hard earned money?

Telepathy? What for? Maybe we had these abilities but our brains filtered them for privacy and peace. You want to be infiltrated constantly in your head? Whacko.

So the trade-off is made already. Dumb is evolution. Survival is key... not intelligence. Bacteria are not quite the intellectuals are they?

Those people who's brains were "unlocked" certainly have to compensate by losing out in other areas. We can't all be omniscient. Jesus.

Funny right?


the possibilities for the human mind are indeed vast. i just wish we could focus more on cell degeneration and find a way to slow it down greatly or even possibly stop it all together. that way we will have time to study the many things we as normal humans won't have time to do because of our fragile life span

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Does the Human Brain Possess Potential “Super Powers”?:

» Does the Human Brain Possess Potential Super Powers? from
A Daily Galaxy post last year, The Importance of Being Forgetful, featured the built-in neural process of forgetting, which discussed why the average human brain is equipped with the ability to filter through seemingly irrelevant details. [Read More]

» Does the Human Brain Possess Potential Super Powers? from
A Daily Galaxy post last year, The Importance of Being Forgetful, featured the built-in neural process of forgetting, which discussed why the average human brain is equipped with the ability to filter through seemingly irrelevant details. [Read More]

» Does the Human Brain Possess Potential Super Powers? from
A Daily Galaxy post last year, The Importance of Being Forgetful, featured the built-in neural process of forgetting, which discussed why the average human brain is equipped with the ability to filter through seemingly irrelevant details. [Read More]