So you want to become a chess master, or new Djokovic? Well, in any domain, most people are average performers. Some are actually terrible and just a few are exceptional. What makes the difference?

How to boost brain performance?

How people can achieve top-class performance in chess, sports, math, music? What does it take to become an expert in any given field? Can anyone achieve the expert status?

How to achieve top performance

To achieve a high standard requires extensive practice through a continuous effort over a long period.  They say it takes about 10,000 hours to be very good at anything. Even individuals identified as ordinary rather than talented can become exceptionally skilled in many fields with the right training.

Unfortunately, it looks that “our education in any domain is frightfully wasteful of time and values. In math and physics the results arrived are still worse than in chess. The bad state of education in chess is due entirely to our backwardness,” Dr. Emanuel Lasker, Manuel of chess. [1]

Cosmetic neuroscience

But now it seems we have found  a substitute for practice when it comes to approaching mastery. They say those 10,000 hours may be replaced with a few seconds of electric zapping. Zapping your brain with a small current seems to improve everything from mathematical skills to your chess.

Non-invasive brain stimulation

Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd in the Back to the Future movie) wants to become a chess master very quickly

The mild electrical shock is meant to depolarize the neuronal membranes in the region, making the cells more excitable and responsive to inputs. This accelerates formation of new neural pathways during the time that someone practices a skill. [2]

Cosmetics has reached new heights. Plastic and cosmetic surgery procedures have improved the looks of millions. Now cosmetic neuroscience will provide “tailor-fitting” for your brain to match the ever-increasing pace of the times. [3]

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References:

1. Dr. Lasker said that he needed 200 hours to teach a young man ignorant of chess to a high level:

  • Rules of play and exercises, 5hrs
  • Elementary endings, 5 hrs
  • Some openings, 10 hrs
  • Combination, 20 hrs
  • Positional play, 40 hrs
  • Play and analysis, 120 hrs

Comparing the total of 200 hrs to the usual 10,000, perhaps chess, after all, isn’t that tough a nut to crack. And now with cosmetic zapping you may become a master in no time.

2. Machines that provide transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) cost around $8000, and their makers sell them only to researchers for now.

3. Sally Adee’s article, Zap your brain into the zone: Fast track to pure focus, in the online version of the New Scientist, Feb. 6, 2012.

4. Non-invasive brain stimulation: How to boost learning with some wires and a nine-volt battery, Nature.com

5. DARWARS Ambush! program to accelerate the development and deployment of military training systems.

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