Tatyana Chernigovskaya is a Russian honoured worker of science, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Education, doctor of biology, Professor of the Department of General Linguistics, Head of the Laboratory for Cognitive Studies in St. Petersburg State University. 

On April 13, the Federation Council of the Russian Federation held a meeting of Valentina Matvienko, its Chairperson, with women in terms of topic ‘Open Dialogue With Women Scientists’. 

A journalist from the news agency of the Eurasian Women's Community interviewed Tatyana Chernigovskaya, an outstanding neurolinguist, and found out, why doing nothing is good and how creative thinking leads the humanity to breakthrough and future. 


– Tatyana, do you think that men are more capable of science than women? 

– I do not think gender really matters. The important thing is whether he or she is talented and hard-working. 

In order not to lose our potential as that of highly evolved species, we must acquaint our children with science. Otherwise, we will become animals or even will be behind them. Education and lifestyle are of paramount importance. 


– Should one develop in one area of work? 

– In no case. One should not occupy one professional niche, this influences badly on his brain activity. In my opinion, the future society does not need highly specialized specialists. It is for computers to do those things. In order to think creatively, in an unusual way, people should know all sorts of things. You can not walk one narrow path. The originality of thinking is the territory on which discoveries are made. 

– In one of your lectures you said that philosophy is obligatory to any person involved in science. Why do you think so? 

– Philosophers can correctly raise questions and come to the right conclusions, they are taught to do it. Without this, nothing can be successfully discovered in science, the work would be done in vain. 


I do not rate my students for diligence, I do not need them to study round the clock. They may do it from morning till night, or it may take them an hour. This is their business. The result is much more important for me. 

– How often do you come to the idea ‘I know that I know nothing’ formulated by Socrates? 

– I always think about it. I am embarrassed because of this fact. I understand that the more you know, the more obvious is the huge amount of what is happening. And then you face your being unable to size up a situation. In this case you get into literature. 

We should know the things are being created by the world. They appear constantly and with great speed. It is almost impossible to keep up with the world. But this is the problem of all humanity. There is a huge amount of information around us, and we do not know what to do and how to process it. Here we just need a new move to understand how to get out of this situation. 

– Perhaps, surfing the information from the desire to grasp everything is a feature of our generation. 

– Yes, and this is a big problem. Everybody became surfers. They run on the surface of knowledge with great speed and do not dive deeply into it. This is bad, because computers can master this method of collecting and processing data. This is what we don’t need. We should only understand something that other people failed to understand. We should consider things from unusual angles. Then we will be able to have a real breakthrough. 

– The idea is to ask a correct question? 

– One should know pretty much to do it. 

– I read somewhere that people evolved through the three desires of the brain: to eat well, rest and carry on the genetic line. 

– It is not quite correct. I am not sure that it is your brain that causes your desire to carry on the genetic line. Other parts of your body have an impact on that. Your brain needs food. I mean, food for reflection. And that is not a metaphor, but a true fact. Your liver processes blood, and your brain processes information. 

– Sometimes there is so much information that brain gets tired quickly... 

– I can only speak for myself. My intuition is very good. If I feel the necessity to have a brake for walking or reading, I do that. This is irrational. However, rational behavior doesn’t result in good things in such cases. We live in the world of deadlines. We will have deadlines tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. That is why it is necessary to be able to give them up and let yourself do what you want.

This condition when you do what you want or do nothing is extremely important for brain. In this case your brain acquires real freedom. 

– Is it useful for brain? 

– Yes, very. In this condition people make discoveries. As Englishmen say, let it walk like a cat does. This sets up the brain for certain very important algorithms. 

– These border conditions are something between brilliance and insanity. 

– Then it will turn out that all geniuses are insane. That’s untrue. One should be careful while speaking on this topic. However, those people are at least unusual, we all understand that. However, if we got rid of this being unusual, our civilization would come to its end. 

– What do you think about Eastern practices when a person controls his heartbeat or digestive system? 

– This is not quite my field, but I take it seriously. After reading a lot about it I come to a conclusion that those techniques are dangerous. One should do it only under the guidance of a guru. Those practices last for a long time. They are not something like fitness, a thing that you can give up at any moment. They greatly affect your body and brain. It is a field where only experienced people can act. You may go to Nepal and do such things but only if you get the apprenticeship. 

Agata Korovina, news agency of the Eurasian Women's Community

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov