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How Fast is Our Speed of Thoughts?

When compared to computers we, humans are slower, irrational and error-prone. Perhaps, this is what makes us the creators. These are the essential factors that lead us to build computers that can only “learn and analyze” and not “understand and create ideas on their own.” The fact that these computers are called smart is ironic, isn’t it?

But, where do we get these creative ideas from? It arises out of our thoughts. Thinking is an involuntary activity that takes place both constantly and subconsciously at several layers in our brains. Have we ever wondered that even our thoughts could travel at a particular speed? Yes!! Get to know how the speed of our thoughts determine us -

What is a Thought?

Based on the information(in any form) that is available to us, we start developing our own theories, concepts, engage in problem solving, and decision making. This is called thinking. The act of thinking gives rise to thoughts. It is the mental process in which human beings form associations and relate to the external world.

When we look at something for the first time, we might not really have a complete idea about it. But when we revisit the same thing again, and again, our brains create layers of information that leads to what is known as thoughts.

These layers establish “synapses” or otherwise called “connections” with each of our brain cells. The brain cells interact with each other through these layers. This is how processing of information takes place within our heads.

We use information around us to gain new knowledge or change the existing one. This is known as understanding. Human beings have the capacity to understand things at the first sight unlike a computer that needs to “learn” or to be fed with trillions(or even more) of images to understand an object for what it is.

Establishing Synapses/Connections



Let’s recall our biology classes. The human brain consists of several neurons that carry information. These neurons play a major role in your “decision-making” skills. Human beings have 100 billion brain cells or neurons. This is just an average count. These neurons transmit signals(information) down their “Axon” by what is known as electric impulses.

Axons have the potential to transmit live actions. Just like the domino effect, one neuron passes the signal to another. The signal is received by the dendrites of the next neuron in line and so on and so forth. This process of transformation is known as neurotransmitters.

What Determines Our Speed of Thought?

Thoughts are too powerful. How to determine their velocity? Perhaps, the following factors largely manipulates the speed of thought(s):

  • The duration taken to generate an action potential through the length of the axon

  • No. of neurons involved

  • The distance traveled by the signal(s)

The initial action potential takes place only for 1 to 5 milliseconds. The synaptic transmissions take for about 0.1 to 0.5 milliseconds. A neuron might travel for about 180 km/hr for an average person. Our thinking speed is also determined by:

  • Myelination

Now, what is this Myelin? Consider this myelin as a wrapper that surrounds and protects the axon from losing any signal. You’re right! Myelin acts as an insulator that prevents damage of electric currents transforming through the

  • Increased axon diameter

Thicker the axon with more myelin, faster will be our thoughts.

5 Ways to Increase Thinking Speed

However, we don’t have access to Myelination and check the diameter of our axons. Then how can we enhance our thinking speed?

As we mentioned earlier, the more and more familiar we get with the things we see, our brain cells interact more. Hence, the more synapses or connections the neurons make, the faster is the speed of thought. This allows signals to travel rapidly through the cells. The following are certain ways to think faster —

1. Map New Experiences

Learning new things will create more neural circuits. This will help us become more familiar with the external surroundings and thereby process the information quickly

2. Continue learning new things

Our brains speed up through practice. Hence, putting a halt to gaining new experiences will only lead us to run on a boring circular loop that might get difficult to escape.

3. Be open-minded

Embrace different opinions and conflicting theories that challenge your beliefs

4. Brainstorm

Give room to productive arguments that will help you understand different aspects of an idea

5. Practice Speed-Thinking

When you are trying to process information, force yourself to look directly into the key points. Jot them down. Now, visit the same information once again leisurely, at your own pace and reevaluate.

Note: Thinking Faster Isn’t a Sign of Intelligence. It simply implies that you process information and understand things either quickly or a bit slowly.

Increasing the pace of thinking comes with practice. The above mentioned suggestions serve as an excellent starting point to enhance your cognitive skills. Until then, keep exploring, thinking and creating!!

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