Why is there a very thin line between genius and madness?

English: Main regions of the vertebrate brain,...
Main regions of the brain shown for a shark and a human brain. Image via Wikipedia

The main activities of a neural network are learning and generalizing. A human brain needs to do these two activities continuously and properly. To learn is a way to acquire knowledge, and to generalize is the way to use that acquired knowledge.

The physiological process of learning is done creating and reinforcing connections among neurons. When we generalize, we are using the current configuration of the network to provide an output that is associating the input phenomenon with the stored information.

Genius is much related to the capability to associate different phenomena and to find a link among them that is hard to establish for normal people. Then, it seems more related to the generalization than to the learning process, but is not true because both of them are inseparable.

But what happens when the stimuli are very noisy? The stimuli can turn a powerful device into a very fragile one. Fortunately, the generalization process acts as a filter, and we are not very sensible to a random white noise. But there is another kind of noise that is very harmful: A repetitive pattern can affect the information reinforce mechanism. That is the reason because a continuous and repetitive sound can produce a terrible headache.

In terms of complexity, the brain of a genius is more complex than an average brain, higher number of connections involves a bigger structure, and the complexity is larger. As humans are limited beings, their brains have a maximum level of complexity. Near that maximum our association capability is higher but the brain is more fragile too, and in a very noisy environment can be easily broken.

Following this discussion, senior managers must care about their high performance employees. If market stress is filtered by managers, clever scientists with a relaxed working environment will be more productive. A good innovation manager must filter market stress to their staff, and he must not transfer the problems to his staff.

On the other hand, it can be true that sometimes fear can be a good negotiation resource, but it must not be turned into a managing tool. Although some managers think that fear can be managed, it cannot be considered a managing tool, at least in a democratic country.


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