What does bioelectricity have to do with IQ?
Brain scans show that thoughts, mental calculations, dreams and other brain activity is composed primarily of massively complex electrical activity firing in various areas between billions of cells. IQ is therefore directly affected by the neural pathways that these electrical signals follow, the ease and accuracy by which they flow, and the ability to form new neural pathways.
So one might say that bioelectricity has everything to do with IQ. Bioelectricity refers to all electrical energy produced by the body, so the IQ portion of bioelectricity is a very small part of the subject that we are dealing with here. What we can say unequivocally though, is that without bioelectricity, IQ is not possible in the human brain at all.
Can you increase IQ with bioelectricity?
One particular study has shown that a pair of “mildly developmentally delayed” twins were able to improve IQ scores by up to 23 points and hold on to the improvements using biofeedback gleaned from EEG measurements.
Using the technique laid out in the referenced paper, we could say that an increase in IQ was achieved with bioelectricity. That is quite a broad statement though because we don’t know exactly what was done to change the “biofeedback” results to get an improvement. We can assume that they did not directly manipulate the bioelectric signals that were occurring in the brains of the identical twin test subjects. It’s more likely to have been the case that they varied the input parameters and saw how the EEG output changed and then made adjustments accordingly.
So we know at least one way to increase IQ through the use, or measurement in this case, of bioelectricity. More traditional methods to increase IQ, such as study, practice, mental exercises, etc, are all also altering the bioelectricity that determines individual IQ. Except in these cases, there is no direct interaction with bioelectricity. It is something that we have been abstracted away from until now.
How to optimize brain signals
A healthy brain will usually perform better than an unhealthy one. Fortunately there are steps we can take to keep the brain healthy. The general advice to maintain brain health is to take regular physical exercise, do things that challenge the intellect such as learning a new language or two, eat a healthy diet and engage in social activities.
Okay so that’s a good start, but is there a way to specifically enhance the flow of bioelectricity through the neural pathways?
In order to answer that question, we need to know the processes by which neurons fire their signals in the brain. Let me try to sum it up as simply as possible.
The firing of a neuron happens in several stages. Electrical activity happens along its length but not in the way that you might expect. It is not quite the same as sending an electrical pulse along a length of conductive wire.
A neuron, being a living cell, is surrounded by a membrane which contains the internal components of the cell. We are concerned here with the ions that are in solution both inside and outside the cell membrane.
As my artistic image shows, the potassium and sodium are positively charged, while chlorine and anions are negatively charged. The anions are more complex proteins. You can see that concentrations of ions in solution are different inside the cell membrane to that outside. The anions cannot cross the membrane and the potassium and chlorine ions reach a state of equilibrium called the resting potential.
The neuron “fires” when a change in this resting potential reaches a certain voltage threshold. At this point, positive sodium ions can pass through the membrane which causes “depolarization” at that point at the start of the neuron. This means that the charge is more or less equal inside and outside the cell membrane at that point.
Once depolarization has moved to the next section of membrane, immediately behind it, “hyperpolarization” occurs. Sodium is blocked, potassium exits the cell and chlorine rushes in. Further sodium is flushed out of the cell. So the potential difference (voltage) is restored across the cell wall or membrane, back to resting potential. This is actual bioelectricity in action.
The same process happens in a wave-like fashion along the entire length of the neuron and once it reaches the end, we can say that the neuron has fired.
This means that as long as we are getting enough, potassium, sodium, chloride and proteins in our diet, our neurons are able to fire as intended. This article contains a list of foods that contain all the nutrients required for optimal bioelectrical health within the human body.
Another more obvious way to optimize brain signals is to practice and repeat any activity, physical or mental, that you want to improve. Repetition has always been known to improve skill levels, but it was not always known that neural pathways were being established with bioelectricity after every pass of a practice session. In fact the same neural pathways can fire just by imagining going through the desired action.
Bioelectricity in brain development and repair
As I was researching the relationship between bioelectricity and IQ, I came across this article on sciencedaily.com which I find relevant to mention here.
To summarize, biology researchers at Tufts University found that cells in an embryo utilize bioelectricity to develop the brain and control its growth. It is possible to manipulate these signals to prevent genetic defects in the brain.
To be more clear, the bioelectric signals are firing all over the embryo to instruct all the cells how and where to grow. The signals act as a sort of biological “software” to control stem cell transformation into various organs of the proper size and shape.
These cells are signalling in the same manner as described above; across the cell membrane with a fluctuating resting potential.
The interesting thing about this research is the potential for health benefits in many different areas. If it’s possible to manipulate cell signals and even turn adult cells back into stem cells, then who knows where this science could lead?
I speculate regeneration of the entire body with enhanced physical and mental abilities, eventually. We are not there yet, but maybe someday we will be able to boost IQ by directly manipulating bioelectricity within the human brain.
In this article, we have seen how bioelectricity forms a fundamental part of brain function and by extension IQ. Without bioelectricity, all the magnificent abilities of the brain are not possible. It’s a bit like plugging a supercomputer into a power source. Without that, it’s just a collection of materials.
We delved a little bit into the mechanics of neuron firing and in so doing hopefully gleaned some insight into how to optimize one’s own IQ potential.
The future in this area is quite exciting and we may even be witnessing the next stage of human evolution. This is where we direct it ourselves.
Good luck in all your endeavours.