New neuroscience research suggests that an intensive quality assurance “initiative” is launched in the human brain between the ages of 11 and 17. The March 23 issue of LiveScience reports:
When a child is born, their brain is not fully-formed, and over the first few years there’s a great proliferation of connections between cells. Scientists call this process synaptic pruning, and speculate that the brain decides which neural links to keep based on how frequently they are used. Connections that are rarely called upon are deemed superfluous and eliminated. Sometimes in adolescence, that pruning process goes awry and important connections are lost, which could lead to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, the researchers think.
This could provide a model for how to effectively achieve innovation or increase innovation: plan for a period of intensive acquisition of new ideas and new signals, and then follow up with an extended period of review and pruning to filter out the ideas that retain their value for the group’s purposes. Approaching innovation specifically from the perspective of an active cycle, followed by a reflective cycle, would be supported by these conclusions from neuroscience. Social network analysis could provide a useful modeling tool to study the efficacy of this technological process.