How to Be a Genius Your Brain and How to Train It

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How to be a

GENIUS Written by John Woodward Consultants Dr. David Hardman and Phil Chambers Illustrated by Serge Seidlitz and Andy Smith

(c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

CONTENTS 6 Your amazing brain



10 Mapping the brain

60 How you think

12 Left brain, right brain

62 What is memory?

14 Taking sides

64 Improve your memory

16 Nerves and neurons

66 Do you remember?

18 Brain waves

68 Paying attention

20 What is a genius?

70 Making associations 72 Albert Einstein



24 Brain and eyes

76 How you learn

26 Tricky pictures

78 Mastering mazes

28 How you see

80 Puzzling patterns

30 Simple illusions

82 Intelligence types

32 Impossible illusions

84 George Washington Carve er

34 How you hear

86 Logic

36 Sounds like?

88 Illogical thinking

38 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozartt

90 Brainteasers

40 Taste and smell

92 Thinking inside the box

42 Sensitive senses

94 Mathematical thinking

44 How you feel and touch

96 Think of a number

46 Touch and tell tel

98 The magic of math

48 Tricking the e mind

100 Spatial awareness areness

50 Magic tricks

102 Seeing in 2-D

52 2 Sensing your body

104 Thinking in 3-D

54 Body illusions

106 Invention

56 Intuition io

108 Wernher vo on Braun

4 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.



112 Learning to speak

138 Sense of self

114 Having a word

140 Personality types

116 Using language

142 What about you?

118 Words aloud

144 What makes you tick?

120 Reading and writing

146 Mary Anning

122 Jean Franςois Champollion

148 The unconscious 150 Dreams 152 Emotions 154 Mahatma Gandhi 156 Fear 158 Reading emotions 160 Body talk 162 Good and bad habits 164 Winning and losing



126 What is creativity?

168 How we got our brains

128 Are you a creative spark?

170 Charles Darwin

130 Boost your creativity

172 How the brain grows

132 Creative exercises

174 Brain surgery

134 Leonardo da Vinci

176 Animal intelligence 178 Train your pet 180 Can machines think? 182 Program your friend 184 Glossary 186 Answers 190 Index

5 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

Do you remembe remember? Put your brain’s memory sk skills to the e test. Study the picture shown n inside this boy’s busy head forr 45 seconds, then cover it up and try ry to answer the following questions. No peeking! 1. Where W does he like to sing? 2. Name ame three sports that we see the boy do doing. 3. One picture e shows show us inside his body. Which part rt do we see?

4. What color is the terrifyi terrifying monster he e is scared of? 5. Who iss the love of his life? lif 6. What food does the boy really, really hate? 7. How many candles andles are there on the birthday cak cake? 8 Name three different 8. animals that we see. 9. What is the delicious ou smell that we see the boy ssniff? 10. What injury makes m him cry?

How did you do? Turn to page 186 to find out.



Fear, ions an and o ger, joy, lov th seem er emoti e, o resp like auto ns might onse mati c me s, bu our b n t emo rains to c we can u tal tions ontro se if we l want our .

Aut actomat i You ivit c r br y

even ain is It al when y always con so kee ou are active, p t tem rolling s you a asleep . p y live e ou ra and dige ture, b r heart by b r stio eath e n. ing, at,

The brain is the most astonishing part of your body. Its billions of cells control everything you think and do, including on re your actions, senses, emotions, ti ses a in, als p e en ra n memory, and language. The more rc your s your b he sig you e t P l of nto in ows e, you use it, the better it works. Al red i akes d all tast wi ich t d an ell, This book is all about how to wh y sen ar, sm ld. the e, he e wor get your brain cells buzzing and, e h to s feel t d maybe, become a genius. an B

Perfect pair This puzzle tests your spatial awareness—your sense of space. Which two pieces on the far right will fit together to create this hexagon shape?




6 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

Check the puzzle answers on page 186.



ng s so ki lway ng

in is a cti Th brain conne n when n w y r e

You ems b s—ev your o s n f ea bl pro ent id part o huma r t y l e o diff are n ce. On y n is. e e i h t er h exp n do t ca

A human bra brain rain is the most complex ex structure str tru ruct cture re on EEarth. art rth. rt Memory Every event or fact that grabs your attention may be stored in your memory—an amazingly efficient library of information that never runs out of space.


Your b uage ability rain gives y under to commu ou the nicate stand using comp and spe lex learn ech. You c ideas an als by rea o din were writte g words th n long at ago.


Yo ve o ur m so rgan brain en an you izes trig t de ra yo g ha ffici ction ur m ers a pp en nd o s thi ens t. Mo are s veme nk wit s m ing ho t of o nts, ab ut y this oth ou t it ou .

Feel lost? Life is full of puzzling problems—such as how to get to the middle of this tricky maze. It’s your a-maze-ing brain that helps you find the answers. 7 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

(c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

(c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.




Origin of genius Compared to other animals, the human brain has a much bigger cerebrum (shown in orange above). This is what makes uss intelligent, because we use the cerebrum for consscious thought.

Meninges Mening Me es s Th hese ese layers lay ers cu cushion n the th brain ag br aga aga ainst shock.


Your bra ain is the most complex organ in your body—a a spongy pink mass made up of billions of micro oscopic nerve cells linked togethe er in an electron nic network. Each part has its own n job, but it is the biggest part, the cerebrum, that is responssible for your thoughts and actions. Pituitary glan nd mun f Perga Galen o n named Galen of reek surgeo t people

This releases chemicals calle ed hormones into your blood. The ey control many functions, includin ng growth and body development.

AG the firs was one of Pergamun in was an ra b e that th ntrolled to suspect and that it co an g or t n ta impor Galen lived d emotions. an s ie or mem , in what is 9 and 200 CE between 12 treated the , where he . now Turkey of gladiators gory injuries

Hy ypothala amus Thiis is the part of your brain tha at regulates ssleep, hunger, and body tempe erature.

Thal lamus The thalam mus relays sensoryy signals from your your body to your ce cerebrum, rebrum where they are decoded and analyzed.

Your Yo ur bra raiin is rain i 77 per ppercent errcentt w erc water. wat wate water aater terr.

Brain stem Connected to the spinal cord, the brain stem links the rest of the body to the brain and controls heartbeat and breathing.

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Skull Forms a protective p casing around the brain

Cerebrum The biggest part of the brain controls all our conscious actions and thoughts, analyzes sensory data, and stores memories.

U ttoo 2 pints Up pints ts (1 litr litre litre) tre re) e) of o bloodd flows blood flows ws through thrrough thro ugh you your your bbrrrain bra aain in every eve ver ery ry minute. m minute inutee. Cor orpus s ca ccallo ll sum A band and of ner ervve er ve fibe fibers rs tha thatt link lin nk the the two si sides des of th the e cere cere reb re ebru brum

Sub bara ra achn c oid space sp ce This is fille led d with sho ock-absorb or ing fluid. fluid.



ply The brain needs a c onstant su of oxygen pply to fuel its activities. This is de livered in the blood the body’s via circulatory system of arteries, ve ins, and c apillaries Around on . e fifth of th e body’s entire quo ta of oxyg enated blood is re served for the brain.

Cerebellum This complex folded structure helps control balance and movement.

Parietal lobe Processes inform mation from the senses, especcially from the skin, muscles, and joints

Th outer The T t b ain br T cerebrum is heavilly The folded in order to increase the total surface area, w which iss packed with brain cells. It iss divided into halves, th he left and right hemispheres, and ea ach consists of four lob bes tha at have different functiions.

Frontal lobe Vital to thought, h h personallliity, speech, and emotion

Temporal lobe Mostly concerned d with the recognition n of sound Occipittal lobe Receives nerve signalss from the eyes and interprrets visual information Spinal al cord cord d


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d el l fi ch ua ea eft vis of l d ft de the el Le ht si ees ual fi g s s Ri eye vi

The cerebrum m is divided into o two halves, halve connected by a bridge of nerve rve fibers. For some functions, ns, each half is wired to the opposite side of the body, but other skills and thought processes are controlled d by only one half of the brain. n n.


LEFT BRAIN IN SKILLS The left side de of your brain is responsible b for the more logical, rational a aspects of your thinking, as well ass yyour verbal skills.

Language e Yo ability to express yourself Your in words is usually controlled by the frontal lobe of the left cerebral hemisphere. ce

Sci ientific t thought Logical scientific e ific thinking is the job o of the left side s of the brain, altho ough most science also involvves being creative.

Left op ptic tract Carries data from right vissual field

Rational thought Thinking and reacting acting in a rational way appears ears to be mostly a left-brain leftactivity. It allows you to analyze activ ze a problem to find an answer.

Mathematical them skills Studies es show that the left side of the brain is much better at dealing with b numbers than the right side, and it is responsible for mathematical skills.

Writing skills Like spoken language, age, writing skills ski that involve organizing o ideas and expressing them in words are largely controlled by the left hemisphere.

ds? Two min l activities involve both


ows brain This scan sh areas) in activity (redmisphere. the right he

is Many menta e side that brain, but th o tw se e h sides of the T . ed may vary o most involv activity of tw in ra b e th w e o h T sh s c. n si sca to mu e listening t h g ri ir people whil the left is using one on the , indicating re o m ch u m re e h p hemis , while the ive approach alytical. it tu in re o am ore an n may be m other perso

usician uses A trained misphere more. m he ft the le

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Left visua al cortex Processes da ata from right visual field

R L igh ey eft s t vis e vis se ide ual ua es of fie l fi th ea ld eld e ch rig ht



RI IGHT BRAIN SKI ILLS S The e right side of your ou brain seems s to be the focus of you ur more creati t ve thou t ughts a and emotional, intuitive ressponses. It is also o important nt for spatial awareness.

Spatial skills s Optic nerve Sends visual signals to brain

Your ability to visualize and work with three-dimensional shapes is strongly linked to the right side of your brain. th

Art Vissual art is related to spatial skills, an nd the right side of your brain is prrobably more active when you are drrawing, painting, or looking at art.

Imaginatio agination Right optic tract Carries data a from left visual fi field

Your creative imagination imag is mostlyy directed by the right hemisphere, dir although expressing that imagination n involves left-brain skills. s

Insight h Those mom moments of insight when you connect nne two very different iideas probably ably come from fr the right half of your brain.

Music c Right h visual co ortex Processes data a from left visual field

Like visual art, music involves olves a lot of right-brain activity—but trained ained musicians also use their left brains nss to master musical theory. ry. y.



Cro ossed os d wires wi The he le left side s o of each eye is connected nnected to the left side of your brain, but ut it p picks up data a from the right side of your head—the —th right visual field. —the fi Each side of the brain processes ess im iimages from the oth her side of the head. Each side als also so controls the muscless of the opposite hand.

ded wo The left b rld rain contr ols the rig hand, and ht since mos t people a right-han re ded, this s uggests that the le ft brain is usually dominant. So do left -handers use their right-brain skills more? Th ere is no p roof of this and many , left-hande rs have no trouble us ing langua ge and log ic. 13

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TAKING SIDES Most people are either left- or right-handed, but did you know that you can also have a dominant foot and a preferred eye? In both physical and mental tasks, the left and right sides of your brain are far from equal, and it is very rare for someone to be able to use both hands or feet equally well. Try the following tests to find which side you are on on.

Best foot forward The easiest way of finding which of your feet is dominant is to kicck a soccer ball, but you usually ta ake the first step of a flight of stairss with your stronger foot, too. You ur preferred foot may not be on the same side as your dominan nt hand—you y can be left-footed an nd right-handed or vice versa.

Eye-motion Look straight at the nose of the girl in each of these pictures. In which one do you think she looks happier? Most people find that she looks happier in the bottom image, which shows her smiling on the left side of the picture. This is because information from your left visual field gets processed in your brain’s right hemisphere, which is also dominant for interpreting emotions.

Tr oppo y doing t s switc ite hand hings wit hing h to the h normal the your , a suc f n o d r watc h on k with or that you h as pu ho your the oth er ar tting you ld brain m. r of do t ing t o learn n This forc h es ew w more ings the t connecti and crea ays wo s ides ons betw tes of yo e ur br en ain.

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Eye see you

Trick your brain

To o discove er which is your dominant eye, hold up your index finger tto eye level and look past it into the distance. Then close ea ach eye, one at a time. You will see that with your weaker eyye, your finger will appear to ju ump, whereas with your stronger eye, it will stay in place. Your sttronger eye figures out the position n of things, while the weaker eye help ps with depth perception.

This exercise reveals how your brain sometimes tricks you into taking shortcuts. First, draw this upside-down picture of a face. Then turn the face the right way up and draw it again. When you compare the two pictures, you may be surprised to find that the upside-down version is the most accurate.

Havi Having ving one hand as strong str tro rong as the other er can give ve you an advantage adva vantag age in some sports. sport rtts. In baseball, rts baseb eball, for fo example, ex e, an ambidextrous ambidex ext xtr tro rous hitt hitter tter tt er can switch hands ds to strike str tri rike the ball fr fro from rom the bes best est side. es e. Handy test Ambidexterity is the ability to use both hands equally well. To see if you are ambidextrous try the exercise below. Take a pencil in your right hand and ask a friend to time you for 15 seconds. Starting top right, work your way along the line, putting as many dots as you can in the white circles. Then do the same on the other side with your left hand and compare the results.

The left side of your brain assigns simple shapes to common objects—for example, an almond shape for an eye. So if you draw a face the right way up, you probably draw the features based on what you think they look like rather than what you see. When you look at a face upside down, however, the right side of your brain works harder to understand the unfamiliar image and you draw the shapes and lines you actually see.

Left hand start Right hand start

You will get the farthest along the line with your dominant hand, but you may surprise yourself by just how well you did with your weaker hand. If you found that you got just as far with each hand, you are probably ambidextrous.

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Child prodigy Determination Born in Poland in 1867, Marie Curie was determined to be a scientist, even though such a career was not considered suitable for a woman in the 1800s. She fought poverty and prejudice to win two Nobel Prizes for her pioneering work on radioactivity.

Some people just seem to be born geniuses. Garry Kasparov was only 13 when he won the Russian junior chess championship in 1976, and he became the youngest-ever world champion in 1985. He had a natural talent, but he worked hard to make the most of it.


Broad view Some geniuses do one thing extremely well, but others excel at many things. Thomas Jefferson—the main author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776—was a philosopher, archaeologist, architect, and inventor, as well as a politician who became president of the United States.

American sistterrs Venus and Serena Williams are am mong the greatest of all tennis players. They showed amazing talent from a young age, but they owe a lot of their success to their h i parents, who coached and encouraged them to build on their skills.

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(c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

Come to Your

Senses (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

Eye muscle One of six muscles that rotate the eye in its socket Choroid A network of blood vessels spreads through this middle layer of the eye.

Retina The inner lining is a sheet of light-sensitive cells.

We are visual creatures. We identify most things by sight and we think mainly in visual terms. So for most of us, sight is our dominant sense. This means that a lot of the information we commit to memory is in the form of visual images. But how do the brain and eyes work together to create these images? wo Pupil The opening P in the iris alllows llight into the eye.

Image convertor Your eye is a ball of transparent jelly lined with light-sensitive cells. Light rays enter your eye through lenses that focus an upside-down image on the cells. These cells respond by generating tiny electrical signals that pass down a bundle of nerve fibers to your brain. The cells exposed to parts of the image that are light generate bigger signals than cells exposed to dark parts, just like the pixels in a digital camera ra sensor. The cells turn the image into an electronic code that your brain can process.

Lens The ellastic lens L cchanges sha ape to fine-focus the image. fi

ew r vi m Cleareflected fro is focused Reflected light Visible objects reflect refle ect light into o your eyes..

u see lens to Light ing yo anyth cornea and image. al by the lear optic ide c a ps form rojected u he eye. t p o is ck f This the ba n o n dow Iris Muscles in n the e iris change c the he si size ze of the centr tral al pupil. upil

Cornea The “wind “ dow” at the front of the e eye e partly focuses tth the image.

rol Automatic cont. The cornea at the


Dilated pupil

Contracted pupil

Each eye has two lenses hind this is another front forms one lens. Be nt jelly, suspended lens made of transpare cally change its ati by muscles that autom distant objects. or se clo shape to focus on ls the light entering The colored iris contro ly dilating (widening) the eye by automatical at the centre. or contracting the pupil

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Sclera The white of the eye forms a tough outer layer.



The tal c con ells of imag vert th e ligh e retin sign t int a a l s visu . Th oe whi al cor ese pa lectric t c al ss e h x t upr ight urns th of the to the b me nta em into rain, l im age an .

in c The cone cells in th olor e retina re different strength s of basic spond to as red, g color ree send to th n, and blue. The s s such ign e brain re present m als they dots of th ese color illions of s. The br the dots ain to create all the oth combines the spec e trum, as in this sim r colors of plified dia gram. Visual cortex The part of the brain that processes visual data

Dark adaptation When you turn the light off in your room at night, you can’t see much. However, as the minutes tick by, you yo u ar are e ab able le to to se see e mo more re a and nd mor more e. This is because the sensory cells in your eyes can adapt to the low light level—but it takes time. If you turn the light back on, you get dazzled because your eyes have adapted to the dark. They must readapt to the light, but they do this much more quickly.

Opt p ic nerve Bundle of nerve fibers linked to the sensory cells


T e s he n ca hee im so ce lled t of age ry lls li is t to (ro he r ght- foc ce dim ds eti se us l (co li ) ar na. nsi ed ls ne gh e v So tive on a s) t, w ery m e ce de h tec ile sen of t lls t c oth siti he olo er ve r. s

There There Ther erre are re aro around round 126 million sensory sen ensory ry cel cells ells ls in each ea eye— eye— 120 million ro rods ds and six million co cones. cones es. es

Strange effects Bright lights and contrasting patterns can cause strange optical effects. For example, if you stare at something for a minute and then close your eyes, you see a negative afterimage. Each color is replaced by its opposite, so the yellow and red flowers shown below appear blue and cyan. This is a side effect of the way your brain processes color.

Blind spot The point where the optic nerve leaves the eye cannot detect light, but your brain invents information to fill the gap. You can test this using the diagram above. Hold the book at arm’s length, close your right eye, and focus on the cross. Slowly move the book toward you. The center of the wheel will disappear when it falls on your blind spot— but your brain will fill the gap with spokes of the wheel. 25 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.




The optical illusions in this gallery all play tricks on what your eyes and brain think they are seeing. They stimulate the eyes in such a way that still images seem to move, colors change, and things appear where they shouldn’t.

Is it straight? The horizontal lines in this illusion appear to be wavy, but they are all perfectly straight—use a ruler and see for yourself! Our brains interpret the lines as being wavy owing to the disjointed black-and-white lines running from top to bottom, which can also make some horizontal bands look closer than others.

Did that move? The patterns in this picture appear to be moving, but not if you stare at any spot for a few seconds. This demonstrates what is called peripheral vision drift. Our brains perceive the colors and contrasts as moving when we are not looking directly at them, but the effect ends when we train our eyes on one spot.

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Ouch! If you move your eyes around d this pattern, called the Ouchi illusion, the circle in the middle seems to move or separate from the rectangular background, and even hovers in front of itt. This illusion is not fully understood, but it probably arises from the brain being unsure of where the ciircle ends when you are not looking directly at it.

Jumping goldfish Stare at the pink dot in the centre of the goldfish’s head for 15 seconds and then look at the black dot in the empty bowl. You should see the goldfish in its new home. This happens because an impression of the goldfish, called an afterimage, is still left on the back of your eye.

Seeing spots This picture is called a scintillating grid because when you look at it, dark spots seem to flash (scintillate) in the intersections between the squares. The reason for this is yet to be explained, but if you tilt your head to either side, it seems to lessen the effect.

Color contrasts Which of these green crosses is lighter? Most people would say the cross on the right. It might seem strange, but there is actually no difference between them. This illusion is known as simultaneous contrast, and it shows that the way we perceive colors is based on their surroundings.

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Binocular vision Each eye sees a slightly different image of the world. Try closing one eye and framing a distant object with your hands. Then open that eye and close the other. You will find that your hands are framing a different view. The images below show the different views of the same setting seen by each eye. eye The left eye can see the palm trees behind the boat, while the right eye sees the flowering trees. You might expect this to confuse your brain, but it combines the images to create a 3-D view.

Your eyes turn visual images into o an electronic code that can be processed and stored in your brain. It is thiss mental processing that determines how w you see the world. Without it, you could not make sense of all the shapess and colors. Your brain also responds to some visual effects by translating them into other types of information. This enable es you to judge things like depth, shape, and distance.


Parallax If you close one eye and look at a scene without moving your head, it looks flat like a picture. But if you move your head from side to side, you get an impression of depth. This is because objects that are closer to your eye seem to move more than objects that are farther away, and your brain translates the difference into a perception of depth. This parallax effect is obvious if you look out of the side window of a moving car—nearby objects like these pillars zip past, but distant objects like the trees move hardly at all.

A oth An ther way your brain jud ges distance is by decod ing perspective. This is the effect you ge t when you look up at a tall building and the walls seem to lean toward one another—eve n though you know they are vertical. Your brain makes an autom atic calculation based on this knowledge and turns it into a percepti on of height.

28 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

ive Aerial perspect another clue ws, your brain can use g vie In landscapes with lon describes the d aerial perspective, it lle Ca ce. to assess distan moisture or dust t objects is affected by way the color of distan in this picture, n in hilly regions, as see in the air. It is obvious n those closer tha er blu look paler and where the distant hills on, which has ronauts visited the Mo to the camera. When ast that distant ef ect made them think this eff no air, the absence of re. we than they actually hills were much closer

nt n dififfere e t o t p u istance We use i g dis gin d u j ju f o s how way showiing . , h t p e d us and t it is to mportan iim

Light and s ha

de Objects are usually lit from above, casting sh a adows that vary according to their a shape. Your brain uses this to b judge shapes, enabling you to te e ll the difference between a ball an b d a flat disk. The reaction is so T instinctive that it even works with 2-D images. Th hese shapes look like a dent su urrounded by bum ps, but if yo ou turn the page upside down, they look like a sin gle bump su urrounded by de nts.

e sense llusions Optical ied in your memory hellps yoouu makplying ap or st by rmation use you Info so conf e blue e. But it can al of what you se sert mirage, th les. In this de ru e wrong of t th se in s ng ar ro the w sky. It appe e th t of rt pa ly layer of very ho “water” is real distorted by a is e ew m vi e su th as e u yo place becaus n’t be the sky, know that it ca er. at w of ol air. Since you po a n of the sky in it is a reflectio

An average ave ver errage era ag person per errson can tell ers tel ell the difference diff fffer ffe ere ren ence between bet etwe wee een en 200 colors, colors co rs,s, all forming form fo rming part rt of the visible vi light lig ight spectrum spec ect cttru ctr rum from fro fr rom red reed to t violet. violet vi et.t. 29 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.


Big and sm

all Psychologist Edward Bradf ord Titchener our judgment discovered th about the size at of something the size of othe is affected by r things around it. The red circ picture here an le ess in the d the one belo l w are the sa one here look me size, but th s biggerr beca e use it is surrou circles. Movie nded by smal makers use th ler is simple effe monsters appe ct to make ar mucch bigg er than they ac tually are.


The ng di M into üller-Ly recti think er ill on us in on th e lef g that th ion misl t is l This eads e mid on is t beyo becaus ger than dle sect he brain ion o e the nd th t h e f of le o e ngth line, pl open arr ne on th the line aying owh e and right ea dept with h. our p ds exten . d erce ption

Some of the most effective optical illusions can be produced with simple lines and shapes. Such illusions play with our perceptions off angles, size, and shape, causing us to make unconsccious assumptions about what we see. Even when we e know how they work, the illusions are difficult to shake off. 30 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

Is it square? The concentric circles in this picture trick our brains into thinking that the image has depth. It also makes the perfectlyy straight p g lines of the blue square appear to bend inward.

nes ed li s s o r C ion was

s This illu erman ed by G r e v o disc ohann J ysicist h p o tr s a llner. drich Zö Karl Frie rallel r pa The fou pear lines ap l a c ti r ve cannot ts s cienti S . d e lt ti see why we explain they es when ht! tilted lin ig a tr ctly s are perfe

A little bit t dotty Dots appear to join the crosses in this image, but the dots don’t actually exist—they’re simply gaps in the lines. Scientists disagree on an explanation. Do we see dots because the brain figures out the boundaries of shapes from little bits of information? Or do we see the illusio on before the brain has processed exactly whatt it is we are looking at?

The ns. tching o i s e u o ill , str n s tw pective illusio e n i n a t d s o n r n o e o e in mage c se of p s a sec rs to b Twosimple i ive a senis createop appeahey are, This lines g nce. Th at the t ttom. T k a o blac he dist red line t the b t a e o e t h n t in o the hich e. in w r than me siz e a g s n he lo ct, t in fa

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The water cycle


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American illustrator Charles Allan Gilbert created this famous optical illusion. What do you ou see s in the picture? A pretty woman admiring herself lf in a mirror or a scary grinning skull?

Deathly beauty

The Dutch artist M. C. Escher was inspired by optical illusions. This picture shows a circuit of water that seems to flow impossibly uphill before tumbling down to start its journey all over again. If you look closely, you can see that the technique used is the same as that in the Penrose triangle, below.



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This illusion was crreated by matthematician Roger Penrosse. All three straigh ht beam ms of the tria angle appear in fron nt and behind d one another at the same time, and they me eet at right an ngles to one anothe er. It would be imposssible fo or this object to exisst in 3--D.

Tric cky triangle

When the eyes and brain focus on an object, they separate it from its background, but it’s not clear which is the object in this illusion. Some people see a white vase on a black background, while others see two black people looking at each other on a white background.

Like e Penro ose’s triangle e, this object cannott be created d in 3-D. You see tw wo diffe erent perrspectivves at once, yet it’s imposssible to fit them m togetther. Th hree ro ound prongs at one end d become a rectang gular shape at the other. Nob body iss reallyy sure who first creatted thiss illusion—it’’s a puzzle from m startt to finish!

Tw wo or three e?

Look at these pictures and objects. What do you see? Is there one image or two? Is the water really flowing uphill? Illusions are not always as they seem at first glance. The brain can flip between two options as it tries to make sense of the impossible.



You u can see th his sha ape in n two ways— —as a small cube sitting g on th he inside of a bigger cube or as a sing gle larrge cu ube with a sm mall cube-ssize ch hunk missin ng from its bottom m corner. This de esign first app peared d in a floor mosaic found in the anccient Roman ruin ns of Pompe eii, Italy.

Cr razy y cu ube

Can you hear something? From whispering voices to a phone ringing, yours ears pick up all sorts of sounds. Try the following activities and find out how much information we process through our ears.

What was that? Test your hearing ability by identifying these challenging sounds.


Yo cannot hear You hea ear any sounds ds in space. space e. This Th is bec because ecause sound needs need eds ds a medium med edium to travel tra tr ravvel through, thro rough, such as air or w water. ater er.r.

Noisy bottles ([SHULPHQWZLWK high- and lowpitched sounds when you do this activity.

You will need: ǩ7KUHHHPSW\ glass bottles ǩ3LWFKHURIZDWHU

ep 1 Ste Fill each bottle with a diffferent amount of water, eaving one empty. If le you blow across the top of the empty bottle, it makes a low-pitched m ound. If you add a little so quid and then blow, the liq pitcch is higher—the more liquid, the higher the pitch. liquid

ep 1 Ste Filll each bottle with a different material—the d uncooked rice, dried beans, and uncooked pasta. Let the participants hear each shaken bottle once. Then wrap them in paper before placing tthem in the bag.

Step 2 If you tap the sides of the same bottles, you get the opposite effect: the empty bottle has the highest pitch, while the fullest bottle has the lowest pitch.

Step 2 Ask your volunteerss to close their eyes and pick the bottles out, ey one by one. Can the identify what is inside the bottles by shaking them?

How good is your sense of hearing? Throughout your life, your brain stores information it encounters, enabling you to identify the sounds you come across.

There is less air when the bottle is half full, so the air vibrates faster, with higher pitch. When the bottle is empty, the vibration is slower and the pitch lower. But when you tap the bottle, it is the glass and water that are vibrating to create the sound. The greater the amount of water, the lower the pitch.

37 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

Wolfgang Amadeus

Mozart Wolfgang at th sister, Nanner e age of six, performing wi their first trip i, and their father, Leopol th his d, to Paris, Fran ce, in 1762. during

Child prodigy zart was the son of rn in Austria in 1756, Mo

Bo , so he was in the right a professional musician He could read music family to learn his art. rds, and began playing before he could read wo at the age of five. His and composing music g ian, and when Wolfgan sister was also a music e rop Eu d un aro m k the was six, their father too prodigies. ld chi as off m the w to sho

Some people seem to have a genius for music and can play it superbly when they are very young. A few are even able to compose complex orchestral music when they are only children— something that most people would find impossible. The most celebrated of these musical geniuses is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the greatest composers who ever lived.

ent g taling n i s i m prov at drea


rific heme was ter usical t m a Mozart g n o tions ccordin up varia as playing. A perform im ew while h ss who saw h ise e improv n ld it u w o w e to a with h r, enager, e than an hou as a te ed r h o s li m for omp like this that even acc d. But to ill de l astoun such sk s were fitting musica n ia ic s r mu fo y t t talen t a par him this ther was jus was to e g e o g t ideas hallen ic, e real c exciting mus h T . k l, tric a in er. se orig compo k a little long o o t which This portrait of Mozart at the age of around 26 shows his love for fine clothing.

young w, the ick pillohis skill at the th a n s . do Perche demonstrate tic audience Mozartto an aristocra organ

Fun and games

In 1787, Em Emper Emperor ero rorr Josep JJoseph eph II of Austr Austria tri ria made Moz Mozart ozart rt his court rt composer composer. er.r.

Despite his musical genius, Mozart did not have a one-track mind. He enjoyed horse riding, dancing, and billiards. When he started earning serious money in Vienna, he bought a billiard table as well as a new piano. He was well known for his sense of humor, partly because he enjoyed practical jokes. He also liked showy clothes and was once decribed as appearing onstage “with his crimson pelisse and gold-laced cocked hat.”

38 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

Cerebral cortex Analyzes and relates smells and tastes

Olffactory bulb Ga athers scent signals and passes them to the brain

Your senses of taste and smell are closely connected, and they both help you enjoy your food. But yourr sense e of smell is vital in other ways. It alerts you to danger and helps you recognize familiar places, things, and evven ven people. Your brain reacts surprisingly strongly to smelll, especially smells that you memorized long ago.

Taste bud

Most of the re Taste pore ceptor cells th at detect tast concentrated e are on the tongue in clusters ca taste buds. Th lled ere are around 10,000 of thes each containi e, ng 50 to 100 ba nana-shaped cells with tiny “taste hairs” at the top. Whe you eat, saliva n and dissolved food seep into each taste bu d through a tin y pore. The ce react to chem lls icals in the fo od by sending nerve impuls es to the brai n.

Taste hair

Olfactory receptors Detect scent molecu mol molecules ecules les in the air

Nerve fiber Taste receptor cell Nasal chamber

Simple tastes


Your taste buds can distinguish between only five taste sensations: salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umani (savory). This combination is too limited to account for all the different li tastes that you experience, and this is because your sense of smell also plays an important role in “tasting” your food. Infections such as colds and the flu can make you temporarily lose your sense of smell— l and then you find that you cannot taste much either.

SOUR R Tongue



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Nerve fibers Gather data from taste buds

Scent si ignals The hum man sense of smell is poor compared to that of many animals, but it is much more refined th than t you ur sense of taste, enabling you to detect thousands of sscents. Scent molecules are carried in the air, and when yo ou breatthe in, they are detected by two patches of recep ptor cellls located high up in your nasal cavity. Nerve fi fibers frrom these cells pass through the skull to the olfactorry bulb, where more nerve cells transfer th he coded d scent signals to the brain.

Wee all hav W have ve our own unique smel smell ell identity. Th This is determined det eter erm rmined ed by fa fact factors cto tors rs such as genes genes, ess, diet diet, ett, and skin type. typee. tion tinctive reac limbic system at Inst the of rt pa is actory bulb

The olf tem is an stem. The limbic sys the top of the brain role in nt rta po im an t plays area of the brain tha ents sc . This explains why memoryy and emotion m rmant do en ak s and aw ger powerful emotion an trigg cortex ca the to es ss pa o mation als es emoriess. Scent infor me tak this zed consciously, but t brain to be analy of the instinctive reaction. a lot longer than the

Thalamus Receives taste signa als from the medulla and sends them to the cortex Medulla Receives taste signa als and relays them to the thalamus Brain n stem

Professional senses Some people earn a living by their noses. They include the makers of perfumes and, not so obviously, wine tasters and tea blenders. The blenders of fine teas, for example, m may “taste” the teas, but their taste buds can barely identify them. Theyy use th heir refined sense of smell to decide w which combinations have the best fla avor.

41 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.



SENSES ENSES Unlike the other senses, smell and taste function by detecting chemical substances. Our sense of smell enables us to distinguish up to 10,000 different scents, and there are people who have an extra-sensitive sense of smell and taste. Try these activities and find out more about your senses of smell and taste.

A blocked nose Can a blocked nose affect your sense of taste? Follow the steps below and find out.

You will need: ǩ6HOHFWLRQRIIRRGV with varying degrees of taste and flavor ǩ*ODVVRIZDWHU ǩ7ZRIULHQGV

In th the we wei weightless eig ightltles ess es enviro environment envi ronmen ent of space, e, food aro fo aromas romas as do don’t often oft ftten fte ten re rea reach eachh th the nose, e, so astronauts astr as trronauts tro ts miss mis iss out on a lot of food flavo fo flavors. vors rss. rs.

Seeing is believing! You will need: How good are you at ǩ6HOHFWLRQRIȍDYRUHG identifying what you Jell-O are eating? ǩ6RPHSODWHVDQGVSRRQV ǩ%OLQGIROG ǩ7ZRIULHQGV ǩ3HQDQGSDSHU

Step 1 Ask the first volunteer to o sample the food, rinsing his or her mouth out with water in between tastes. Record the responses.

Step 1

Step 2

Ask an adult to help you make the Jell-O. When they have set, place them on a plate.

Put a blindfold on the first person, making sure he or she does not see the Jell-O beforehand. Then ask your f i d to taste and friend d id identify if the h flavors. Record the results.

Step 2 Repeat Step 1 with the second volunteer, but this time ask your friend to hold his or her nose closed.. Who had a better sense of ta aste?

When you can’t sme ell what you are eating, it is harrder to recognize food flavors s. So if your nose is blocked be ecause you have a cold, for exa ample, food often tastes bla and.

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Smell S Try this test and find out how good your sense of smell is.

Step 1 For each item, put two samples of it in two different bowls. Mix the bowls around.

Step 2 %OLQGIROG\RXUIULHQG and ask him or her to identify which two items smell the same. How good was your friend’s sense of smell?

You will need: ǩ%OLQGIROG ǩ$WOHDVWVL[ERZOVDQG three items with strong smells such as a banana, coffee grounds, flowers, or soap ǩ$IULHQG

T The chemical factor You will need: Find out if saliva ǩ3DSHUWRZHO helps you when ǩ6HOHFWLRQRIGU\IRRGV it comes to such as cookies, cakes, tasting food. or crackers ǩ7ZRIULHQGV

Our sense of smell is much more sensitive than our sense of taste—around 10,000 times more sensitive. It alerts us to danger by detecting poisonous odors and we can even identify whether food is ripe p or rotten byy smell alone.

Step 3 Ask the second person to identify the flavors. This volunteer should not be blindfolded. Record his or her answers, too.

Step 1

Step 2

Pat the tongue of one of your volunteers dry with the paper towel so that no part of the tongue’s top side has saliva on it. The second person can taste the food as normal.

Ask the two subjects to taste the dry food and then record their responses as t how to h much hfl flavor th they can taste.

Step 4 Compare the differences between the two experiments. Did the blindfolded person make any mistakes or take longer in identifying the flavors?

We are used to seeing foods in certain colors, and this helps identify their flavors.

Chemicals from food can reach your taste buds only if they have been dissolved in saliva.

A child has around aro round 10,000 taste buds, buds ds,s, while wh an adult may have ve only 5,000.

43 3 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.


Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It ha as many functions, including acting as a protective e barrier against infection, but it also provides yo ou with vital information about your environment. It does this by using millions of sensory recepto or cells that detect different types of stimuli—from m the most delicate tap to the sharp shock of pain n.

Free nerve endings Sense touch, pressure, pain, and tem mperature Thalamus

Sensitive e skin Human skin has at leastt six types of sensory receptors. Some arre branched nerve endings, while others are nerve fibers that end in tiny disks or cap psules that psules detect different types of pressure, vibration, stretching, temp perature change, and physical damag ge. Some nerve endings are wrapped aro ound the roots of hairs and sense their response to touch and air mo ovement. Merkell’s disk Responds to light touch and pre essure

There There Ther re are re aro around round 18 million skin sensors rs altogether, alto tog oget ether er,r, constantly constanttly sending info information form rmation to the bra brain. rain.

Hair i root sensors Detect hair movement

Signal network Sensoryy signals from the skin are sent through the bran nching nerves of the peripheral nervous system to the spinal cord and then to the thalamus. The thalamus passes them on to the somatic ssensory cortex, which is located in the brain. The thalamus acts as a relay station, as it does forr all sensory information except smell. 44 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.



contro Some part l s of your s kin are m more sen uch sitive than others. If somethin g touches your leg, you can ce rtainly fee l it, but th sensation e is not very precise. By contra st, your fin gertips are highly sen sit sense of to ive, giving you the uch that a llows you to feel tex tures and , in the ca of blind pe se ople, to re ad Braille .

Sensory map

Hair shaft Proje ects above skin surfface and reacts to to ouch and air moveme ent

This odd-looking figure shows how your brain reacts to touch on various parts of your body. It looks strange because the size of each body part is related to the num mber of touch sensors that it has ratther than its physical size. Your han nds are shown much bigger than your feet because they are much more sensitive.

Epidermis Outer layer of skin

Thhe lea T The least leas le ea t sensit east sens en ittive ivvee iv part aart rt of rt of yo yoour ur bo ur boody dy dy is the is the mi miiddle ddle of ddle of your back. your ackk.

Habituation Dermis Containss blood vessels, glands, and nerve endings

Meissner’s corpu uscle A touch receptor found in sensitive e areas of skin

Although your brain reacts strongly to new sensory information from your skin, it adapts to some constant or repetitive messages to make them less distracting. This effect happens with all the senses but is most easily tested using touch. If you put a pencil in the palm of your hand, for example, you get an instant sensation, but within seconds this wears off to leave just a low-key awareness. This is because some skin sensors soon stop sending signals, but others don’t.

Pacinian corp puscle Sensitive to pressure and vibrations

Feeling g pain Nerve endings throughoutt your skin register pain by reacting to cchemicals called prostaglandins and histam mines that are released from damaged ce ells. There are two types of pain responsses. One is short and sharp to make you u jerk your hand away from a candle flame in a reflex action. The other is slower and d starts after the reflex, giving more persistent pain and warning us of possib ble long-term harm. (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.




Grab bag +RZJRRGLV\RXUVHQVH of touch in helping you identify objects?


You will need: ǩ%R[ZLWKWZRKROHVFXWRXW RUDSLOORZFDVH ǩ6HOHFWLRQRILWHPVLQDOOVL]HVVXFK as a cup, spoon, ball, apple, sponge, rock, pinecone, and d feather ǩ6RFNVRUUXEEHUJORYHV ǩ$IULHQG

Step 2 1RZDVN\RXUIULHQG 1 to o put socks or rubber gloves on his or her hands and touch the LWHPV+RZGRHVWKLV ch hange the success rate?

Step 1

By covering your hands, itt is harde er to tell what you are touching. This iis because you are reducing the am mount of tactile informatio on being sent to your brain.

Step 2

Have your friend place a hand inside the box DQGSLFNDQLWHP

With eyes closed, ask your friend to feel the object and then sketch WKHVKDSHDQGGLPHQVLRQV RIWKHLWHP$VNKLPRU her to describe the texture of the object, too.

We have different types of receptors under our skin. These enable us to find out a lot about an object just by touch alone—whether an object is soft or hard, its shape, and how big it is.

46 (c) 2011 Dorling Kindersley. All Rights Reserved.

ywhere else on the body. than an fingers

Step 1


n o ur


Step 3

e p t o rs i

Artist at work! You will need: Can you judge the ǩ%R[ZLWKDKROH size, texture, and ǩ6RPHREMHFWVVXFK shape of an object by as a feather, apple, touch alone? Try this ERRNDQGZDOOHW activity and find out. ǩ3HQFLODQGSDSHU

c We have more touch re

3ODFHDIHZ LWHPVLQWKHE ER[ RUSLOORZFDVH H$VN your friend to o put his or her hands inside the boxx and try to identify the e objects IURPWRXFKDORQH

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