Now the thing is when I first started out, I’d go to the AG engineering meeting and they thought I was really weird. No one wanted to talk to me. And then I whipped out a big foldout drawing. Then I started to get respect. That’s selling your work. And the thing I learned about my portfolio, you want to make a portfolio where someone looks at it and 30 seconds later it’s “wow!” Don’t put too much junk in a portfolio. You just put enough stuff in there so look at it really quickly, wow this person really can do some stuff.
Now I used to joke around that I had huge internet access to my visual cortex. Well, turns out I’ve got a pretty big circuit there. And that’s probably in the top 10% or so of circuits going from the frontal cortex all the way deep to the back of the visual cortex where the graphics files are stored.
Now Walter Schneider at the University of Pittsburgh has a new scanning technology, which I’m sure some Asperger people had to develop the computer to enable this scanner to track white matter fibers. So your brain’s got the gray matter on the outside. And the inside of the brain is all white matter, big long axons that go all the way across the brain that form cable bundles. And this new technology can actually dissect out the cable bundles. It can tell the difference between a bridge that cross each other or an intersection. And that took a lot of computer power, and they can fit it inside a box that Walter can pick up. And so I’m an associative thinker, so start thinking about that song. You can get eight great tomatoes in that itty-bitty can. That’s an ancient old ad for tomato sauce. So that came up. You can get lots of computing in an itty-bitty box. That’s sort of how my mind works.
Okay, now this is the cable bundle for speak what you see. And it goes from the visual cortex up to the language area. That’s the normal one. And that’s mine. And those branches, you can see they’ve been truncated there on that rendering, they actually go all over the brain. So I basically have got a search engine — it’s a lot like Google for images – where you type in keywords and I get lots of pictures. And they are specific! The thing I find so fascinating about search engines is they work just like how my mind works.
Well, who made search engines? Some people that are much more linear in their thinking don’t like the way the search engine works. I like the way it works just fine. And one of the things I got to teach my students is, you got to use all the different keywords.
All right, let’s just take cattle, for example. There’s bulls, cows, cattle, bovines, calf, calves. You got to use all those different words. That’s really obvious to me. And I find if you use all the different words, you find a lot of papers you wouldn’t find otherwise. Now the price I paid for this circuit is I have less bandwidth for the speak what you see. So I had speech delay. Didn’t talk until age four. And I couldn’t get my words out. See, there’s always a price. This scanner was originally paid for by the Defense Department to look at veterans’ head injuries. And if this had been an injured circuit, it would look like dried spaghetti and went crunch and broke about half of them. I’ll tell you, the football players doesn’t look very pretty.
Okay, now this is another scan that was done at the University of Utah and presented at the Neuroscience Meeting. And the blue part is basically full of cerebrospinal fluid. It’s full of water. And you can see, I’ve got a big asymmetry there. I got visual thinking and my math department got trashed. See, where I think innate differences make the biggest difference is either in real deficit in something or an extreme ability in something. Yes, there’s brain plasticity. But that’s happening in the gray matter out on the edges. Those big white fiber bundles, I don’t think you grow those big axons back. I mean, they’re that long.
Malcolm Gladwell says if you have enough practice and you have enough access to services, anyone can learn anything. Well, back in ’68, Bill Gates and I had access to this exact same computer system. I wanted to learn how to program it, it was just hopeless. Algebra, just hopeless. I wanted to become an expert skier. I could never keep them together. I could get to the good intermediate stage. I mean, I could ski recreationally. But get really good? There were other kids, one winter they’d be experts. Well, I just couldn’t do computer programming, no matter how hard I tried. I agree with Gladwell about the practice, and of course, the access to the teaching. You know, you have to develop abilities. This is probably one of my most important slides. The different kinds of minds slide.