My Brilliant Brain (National Geographic Documentary)
Brad Newsome, reviewer
November 9, 2007

Nurture thoroughly trumps nature in the first episode of this captivating series about the human brain.

The program focuses on chess champion Susan Polgar who might not have been the formidable figure that the chess world’s grand masters have come to know and fear had it not been for her dear old dad. Polgar’s father, Laszlo Polgar, had the idea that any child could be turned into a genius through early and incessant education. He had intended his daughter to be a maths prodigy but her chance discovery of a chessboard while rummaging through a cupboard in the family’s Budapest flat switched her nascent genius on to a different track.

Polgar herself undergoes a variety of chess-related challenges and medical examinations during the course of this documentary, with an MRI scan revealing that her devotion to chess has physically rewired her brain – the part of the brain that normally looks after such things as chess has effectively hijacked the face-recognition bit. This means that she can recognise clusters of chess pieces – and what they mean in the context of a game – in supercomputer time.

Elsewhere, the doco looks at the differences between the male and female brains and how Polgar’s case might have many precedents, not least that of Mozart.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Click here to watch the entire 47 minute documentary by National Geographic. It is currently being shown on TV in a number of countries right now. It will be shown in India later on this month.

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