Berit Brogaard

To reach new areas, you have to get your brain out of its comfort zone. There are various ways to do it, but I believe the easiest is by training yourself in a neurological phenomenon called synesthesia, in which the brain makes unusual associations between things like sounds, colors and emotions.

We consciously use only a small portion of our brain, but we’re constantly performing complex operations in other areas even though we’re unaware of it. Savants gain access to unconscious areas when the brain’s bossy left hemisphere is muted. The left is in charge of much of our organized thought and decision-making and tends to suppress the right side, which generally rules creative activities.

Most people assume that folks with amazing mental abilities were born this way and that they operate on a plane that’s inaccessible to the rest of us. But nothing could be further from the truth. For more than a decade, I’ve studied people with uncanny abilities – card counters who can beat the house, self-taught artists, people who can remember an unbelievable amount of information. Here’s the thing: These weren’t innate skills – they were acquired.