It's Cool to Be Smart

It's cool to be smart. Tell us about the subjects or ideas that excite your intellectual curiosity. (200-250 words)

If it’s cool to be smart, then it must be even cooler to be smarter. That’s the principle that has guided my bordering-on-obsessive fascination with the brain.

It all started the summer before seventh grade, when I developed the habit of hanging out at the neighborhood Barnes & Noble. I enjoyed browsing the themed tables of featured books, and one day a table labeled “Thought-Provoking” caught my eye. It consisted of books related to the brain and that was it. I went from leafing through the books on the table to buying them so I could read and mark them up at home. Matthew MacDonald’s, Your Brain: The Missing Manual -- part scientific introduction to vocabulary and concepts from biology and psychology, part self-help manual – was full of highlighted sections and was my legal “gateway drug” to the world of neuroscience. It connected the physical workings of the brain to their implications in daily life. Who wouldn’t be interested?

From it, I went on to devour Ron Hale-Evan’s Mind Performance Hacks, a fun guide offering tips and tools (hacks) to “overclock your brain." I took his mnemonics strategy to heart and it definitely helped in the following school year. Summer ended and Barnes & Noble changed displays, but my fascination with neuroscience has not. I read books and Scientific American Mind ; I also consume TED talks on the subject. I hope all this has made me smarter and therefore cooler, but regardless I’ve discovered my lifelong fascination.