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[[quoteright:350:[[Creator/ShintaroKago http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kagovice.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Talk about "blowing your mind"!]]

->''The wizard who reads a thousand books is powerful. The wizard who memorizes a thousand books is insane.''
-->-- Flavor text on the ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' card [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=83133 "Battle of Wits"]]

So you're walking along, minding your own business, playing with your iPod in a neutron storm next to a nuclear plant during the equinox, and suddenly some AppliedPhlebotinum grants you a magnificent gift: an entire library's worth of information is [[NeuroVault downloaded directly into your head]], along with all the [[SuperIntelligence intellect]], [[ExpositionBeam memories]] and wisdom needed to use it. You become an instant genius at everything from knitting to astrophysics, and you can suddenly TechnoBabble your way out of any problem!

[[BlessedWithSuck Except]]... for this problem:

The thing about super-human knowledge and intellect, is that often you don't get [[RequiredSecondaryPowers a super-human brain to put it in]], and there's only so much room in there. As your brainpower goes up, [[PowerDegeneration your survival rate goes down]]. Time is running out, and you either have to figure out a way to ditch your new super-smarts or die -- either by hemorrhage, [[YourHeadASplode cranial explosion]], or body strain.

Occasionally, dying isn't the problem: It might be non-fatal, but have some other significant drawback if you don't get rid of it soon, such as madness, head-splitting migraines, overwriting of memories or knowledge, or permanent brain damage. This often leads to FlowersForAlgernonSyndrome when the character returns to normal, warning others about the dangers of get-smart-quick schemes.

Compare DeadlyUpgrade and TooMuchForManToHandle. Also compare TheFogOfAges, where an immortal being has been collecting memories for so long that they're overwriting the oldest ones. Not to be confused with MyBrainIsBig, where the skull ''literally'' runneth over and the brain shows outside it. See also SuperIntelligence and AMindIsATerribleThingToRead.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Manga/SilentMobius'', Holonic, a [[spoiler:computer virus that consumed almost all of Tokyo's data]], was going to attempt to [[spoiler:enter a visionary's brain and escape physically]], and this trope is what Lebia Maverick described as what would happen if it did.
* At the end of ''Anime/DivergenceEve'' [[spoiler: [=LeBlanc=] gets all of the information about the entire universe (and the alternative one) downloaded to his brain in a bid to learn how to become immortal. The information overload is too much for his brain to handle, and [[YourHeadASplode his head explodes]]]].
* This is how Ed describes the feeling of going past the GateOfTruth that connects humans with the ability to use alchemy in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''. It doesn't stop him from wanting to repeat the experience, since he did gain an immense amount of knowledge from it.
* In ''Anime/GhostSweeperMikami'', Dr. Chaos' brain really is completely full with information (due to him living for several hundred years). So what happens when he learns something new? Rather than expand and strain itself, his brain simply overwrites the earliest thing it can. So while he is an occult genius who can readily comprehend many mystic things, he can easily forget such basic things as what 2+2 results in (hint: not 5).
* Played for laughs in ''Manga/KOn'', where {{Cloudcuckoolander}} Yui forgets all the chords she learned after cramming for an exam.
** It's a recurring issue for Yui through both seasons.
-->'''Yui''' ''after being greeted by the others the morning before a final exam'': "Don't talk to me. Everything I memorized will fall out." (''[[OhCrap trips]]'')
* The titular character of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' faces this downside to his Shadow Clone training strategy. With hundreds of clones he can experience years of training in one day, but the backlash when the clones disperse is enough to render him unconscious while his brain tries to process the information.
* In Creator/OsamuTezuka's ''Manga/{{Phoenix}}'' story "Civil War", the historical figure Taira no Kiyomori desires the blood of the titular bird so he can become immortal and continue to lead the Taira Clan, instead of letting it get run into the ground by his incompetent sons. He starts having second thoughts, however when he has a vision of himself in the 21st century, where he's become an invalid due to his brain having run out of space for new memories and has to be periodically hooked up to an "Amnesia Machine" or he'll go crazy. Other characters who do gain immortality, or at least very long lifespans don't seem to have this problem, but that might just be because they usually end up becoming hermits whose lives are largely monotonous.
* This is pretty much the plot of the first arc of ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex''. The titular character, [[MeaningfulName Index Librorum Prohibitorum]], is being used by the church as a library of every magic tome in the world, using her [[PhotographicMemory eidetic memory]]. However, because it uses up most of her brain, they periodically wipe her other memories (ie: her memories of her own life). [[spoiler:Later subverted when it turns out that this was all just an excuse to wipe her memories for the purpose of preventing her from developing too much independence and possibly becoming a threat.]]
* In ''Manga/OmamoriHimari'', back when Kuesu Jinguuji was a student mage, her only friend in the school got her to read a forbidden tome of knowledge. Then it turned out that the only reason that Vilma befriended Kuesu in the first place was because she thought that reading the book through a second person would allow her to acquire the tome's infinite knowledge without going mad like every other person who'd tried to read the book. Unfortunately for her, Kuesu was so suited for use as a medium that she absorbed knowledge faster than Vilma's mind could process it, resulting in her brain exploding.
* In ''Anime/Gundam00AwakeningOfTheTrailblazer'', this happens to any developing Innovator who tries to psychically connect with the ELS. One describes what he hears from them as "nothing but an endless cry". It later turns out that [[spoiler:the ELS didn't realize the incredible volume of information they were broadcasting was harmful to human minds, which were too small to contain it all. Once they figure that out, it's implied that they learn to communicate with Innovators without overloading them.]]
* In ''LightNovel/DestructionFlagOtome'' bratty young Katarina bumped into the prince, fell over and hit her head on a rock, which cut open her forehead. Which isn't important, as she herself says, but it ''caused'' something important. Namely, she awoke to the memories of her past life, which caused her brain to completely overflow and then shut down for five entire days while she remained in a coma with a high fever. When she woke up her personality was totally different.

[[folder:Card Games]]
* Several cards in ''MagicTheGathering'' provide extra draws (and thus, potentially knowledge of additional spells in-game) at the expense of life points, making overuse of them naturally dangerous. And not all of them can be easily "turned off" once in play...
** The other danger of excessive card drawing is that you lose the game if you have to draw from an empty deck. There are several tournament strategies that involve generating obscene amounts of mana, then dropping a [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=5677 Stroke of Genius]] or similar card to make an opponent draw their entire deck plus one card.
** Also, the hand size limit may be a less lethal example of the trope. A player can technically end up with any number of cards in his or her hand for a time... but at the end of his or her turn, he or she has to discard any in excess of his or her current maximum hand size (which usually starts at seven and stays there unless modified by specific effects), presumably reflecting how much arcane knowledge his notional brain can safely hold for long.
** In a more narrative use of this trope, many cards equate drawing cards to gaining knowledge, and thus equate drawing at a cost with this trope. The various Innistrad series, in particular, have several cards which involve drawing and discarding or exiling cards, with the flavor being that the user gained too much knowledge that one is not meant to know and subsequently went insane, or was forced to expunge prior knowledge.
** The card [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=43729 Rush of Knowledge]] mentions this; "Limitless power is glorious until you gain limitless understanding", the picture shows a mage receiving knowledge, much to his discomfort.

* In an issue of ''Comicbook/TheSandman'', "Calliope", Dream punishes an author by giving him an overload of ideas, so much so that he starts writing them on the walls with his ''[[CouldntFindAPen bloody fingers]]''.
* This was a plot of a NightmareFuel horror comic from UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}}. The man gets hit with a [[EvolutionaryLevels evolution-devolution]] ray, and as his head starts to [[HollywoodEvolution evolve and gets bigger]] (in the traditional Future Human way of comics from the time), his body "devolves" to that of a tiny lizard.
* In ''ComicBook/PS238'', a scientist managed to both figure out time travel and learn all of the world's knowledge up to the late 90s by uploading an encyclopedia into his brain. It combined with continual unshielded exposure to the 4th Dimension made him so crazy that he used his time travel abilities to be both a superhero and his own nemesis.
* In the ComicBook/CaptainAtom / Wildstorm crossover, Cap does this to Voodoo when she tried to invade his mind. He uses his neural uplink to the Pentagon's computer net to basically KO her with the Internet.
* In his first appearance, The Leader -- [[SuperIntelligence superintelligent]] enemy of the Comicbook/IncredibleHulk -- was after an Ultimate Machine containing all the knowledge in the Universe. When he obtained it and downloaded the information into his mind, this proved too much even for his super brain and killed him. [[OnlyMostlyDead Seemingly]].
* In an issue of ''ComicBook/DylanDog'', a scientist is looking for a way to [[NinetyPercentOfYourBrain unlock the full potential of the human intellect]], but all of his test subjects die in [[YourHeadASplode predictably gruesome ways]]. It turns out that an adult's intellect is "atrophied" after a life of underuse, and only babies are flexible enough to survive the process. When the scientist, mentally unbalanced after years of frustrations, experiments on his newborn daughter, it finally works [[GoneHorriblyRight even too well]].
* In ''ComicBook/TheDarkPhoenixSaga'', after Mastermind's manipulations cause Phoenix to [[FaceHeelTurn give free rein to her dark side]], she psychically feeds him enough cosmic power and knowledge to overload his brain, and then almost immediately takes it away. The fleeting taste of cosmic awareness leaves him catatonic.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''Fanfic/WithStringsAttached'', the first time Ringo uses his mindsight, his brain is overloaded with a million brilliant details all screaming for his attention. Luckily, before he can go nuts, “A reflex he didn't know he had kicked in and narrowed his vision back down before anything permanent happened.”
--> For a moment he stood, swaying. "Whoa," he mumbled. "Whatta trip."
** By ''Fanfic/TheKeysStandAlone: The Soft World'', though, he's able to handle all that detail—indeed, is addicted to it, and when he can't use his mindsight he finds the world hopelessly drab, shallow, and slow.
* In ''RolePlay/WeAreAllPokemonTrainers'', the reaction of gaining two sets of memories from the Alternate Timeline and the original is a temporary brain overload.
* Princess Luna suffers this in ''Fanfic/ThroughTheEyesOfAnotherPony'' when she magically memorizes ''the '''entire''' Internet''. It seemed like a good idea at the time! Side effects may include increased cynicism, horrible pop-culture jokes, temporary severe speech impediments, and severe outbreaks of emo.
* In ''Fanfic/AshesOfThePast'', the first time Ash's Absol Mega-Evolves, her DangerSense is overclocked to the point that all the information about disasters surging into her head at once [[SuperPowerMeltdown drives her berserk]].
* In ''Fanfic/OnTheEdgeOfTheDevilsBackbone'', Ezra's empathic abilities overload at one point and he senses every living being on Lothal at once. Kanan also gets drugged with a substance that makes him see and feel everything at all points in time, and desperately tries to claw his own brain out while begging for it to stop.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Twice in ''WesternAnimation/SupermanUnbound'': Brainiac hooks Superman up to his archive and starts downloading, betting that Superman's brain would liquify after only one world. [[spoiler:Superman then beats Brainiac by taking him out of his ship, overloading him with the constant shifting data of a living world which he so desperately tries to contain in his bottled cities.]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* At the end of ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheKingdomOfTheCrystalSkull'', [[spoiler:the villainess gets all the knowledge the aliens possess ([[MemeticMutation it was their treasure]]) downloaded into her mind, but it's so much that her head (and then the rest of her) explodes.]]
* The film version of ''Film/JohnnyMnemonic'', with the additional kick that the protagonist doesn't actually have access to the downloaded knowledge that's killing him -- he's a courier hired to carry data securely in his own "wetware".
* ''Film/TheComputerWoreTennisShoes'' (1995 version): It was not going to destroy him in this case, but got erased with a "magical noise virus over the phone".
* Subverted in ''Film/{{Flash Gordon|1980}}'', in that Zarkov's brain was to be erased and reprogrammed, but Klytus ordered it to be done "only to Level 3", as he doubted Zarkov's Earth brain could take any higher level. After he leaves his assistant orders him programmed to Level 6. Further subverted in that [[spoiler:Zarkov manages to also keep his original memory]].
* [[spoiler:Doctor Ostrow]] suffers this fate near the end of ''Film/ForbiddenPlanet'', after [[DeadlyUpgrade intentionally overusing]] a [[{{Precursors}} Krell]] [[UpgradeArtifact learning machine]] to try to figure out what's killing them.
* In ''Film/{{Phenomenon}}'', George Malley has a UFO encounter that gives him advanced brain processing power and telekinesis. However, [[DeadlyUpgrade it also gives him a brain tumor.]]
* ''Film/BatmanForever'': Though a bit vague, Riddler seems to be doing this. (That, or using other people's brainpower to amp his own mental function, or both.) It makes him a megalomaniac and a malfunction of the machine physically warps him.
* ''Film/TheButterflyEffect'': Thanks to MentalTimeTravel, the hero suffers mental instability, migraines, and institutionalization when the doctors find out "he has four lifetimes' worth of memories in his head!" And this isn't taking into account his nosebleeds, results of said memories overloading his brain.
* ''Charly,'' an adaptation of the classic ''Literature/FlowersForAlgernon'', has an intellectually handicapped man undergo a treatment that boosts his intellect up to normal and then far beyond. Unfortunately, as he discovers from checking out the test rodent Algernon, it'll cause him to burn out and wind up even stupider than before, possibly brain-dead.
* In ''Film/RainMan'', Dustin Hoffman's character is an autistic ''savant'' who has superhuman memory retention and computational skills, offset by severe social disability; based on a RealLife person.
* In ''Film/FlightOfTheNavigator'', an alien research computer travelling near Earth, hearing that humans "[[NinetyPercentOfYourBrain only use 10% of our brains]]," wanted to find out if it could use the other 90% to backup its data. When the abducted experimental subject asked it what happened after it filled his brain to the max, the computer replied "You leak." Fortunately, there were no dangerous side-effects.
* Spock almost does this to himself when attempting a mind-meld with V'Ger in ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture''. Turns out that opening your mind up to [[spoiler: a NASA probe]] that gained so much information it developed sentience is enough to cause agonizing pain and knock him out cold.
* Downplayed in ''Film/TheManWhoKnewInfinity'', where the titular person, Srinivasa Ramanujan as portrayed by ''Creator/DevPatel'', suffers anxiety from the seemingly divinely-revealed mathematical discoveries he constantly experiences and a strong sense of urgency to have them known to the world.

* In Fred Hoyle's novel ''The Black Cloud'', scientists communicating with the Cloud are given a recording of its knowledge. An initial attempt to download the knowledge into one of them proves to be quickly fatal; a second attempt seems more promising at first but also ends in mental breakdown and death.
* ''Literature/EndersShadow'' features a very, very dark version of this trope. It is revealed about halfway in that Bean, a diminutive but fiercely intelligent kid, has been [[spoiler:genetically altered at birth to have an almost infinite capacity for learning, because his brain continues to grow like an infant's. His brain will never stop growing; neither will his skull, his bones, or the rest of his body. It's only a matter of time before he becomes far, far too big to support himself and one of his organs gives out.]] This remains a major plot point over the rest of the "Shadow" novels.
** Worse, it's discovered that Bean's [[spoiler:genetically engineered traits are ''inheritable''. It's estimated that any children of Bean's have a fifty-fifty chance of inheriting the genetic traits responsible for his unceasing growth.]] Naturally, Bean and Petra go to great lengths to prevent [[spoiler:their children]] from being given [[spoiler:the same death sentence as Bean.]] Equally naturally, [[spoiler:Achilles]] deliberately screws with their preventative measures. [[spoiler:At the end, it's implied that one of Bean's kids -- one of the ones who inherited the genetic trait -- was taken off-planet by the surrogate mother, who was under the impression that she was carrying Achilles' heir. This is later confirmed, both by WordOfGod, and in the latest book.]]
* In ''A Study In Scarlet'', Literature/SherlockHolmes claims that the reason he is so ignorant of such things as astronomy is that he's trying to save brain-space for forensic knowledge.
* Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' series.
** In ''Discworld/SmallGods'', the illiterate Brutha nevertheless has PhotographicMemory. He experiences discomfort after visually memorizing the contents of an entire library. The discomfort comes from one of the recurring themes in the Discworld series: Knowledge is power. Knowledge is found in books. Therefore, libraries have ''immense'' power. And Brutha had all of one in his head, even if he could not read it.
** While he doesn't have a brain in the biological sense, Death often finds his vast PhotographicMemory to be a psychological burden. At such times, he tends to get drunk and/or go AWOL while Susan takes care of the family business.
** Tiffany Aching briefly experiences this in ''Discworld/TheWeeFreeMen'', when she is "woken up" and knows everything in the Chalk from a single stalk of grass to the animals whose fossils made the pebbles. She uses it to defeat the Fairy Queen and then promptly gives it back, as no person could stay like that for long.
* In the James Allan Gardner book ''Radiant'', the "Balrog" hive-mind spore colony infecting Youn Sue's mind grant her wish to see and think as they do... by spreading her mind slowly to absorb more information while retaining the detail of her original perspective. She pleads for them to stop, but they continue until she blacks out from brain damage. The Balrog then moves in and reconstructs the damaged bits to bring her out of her coma.
* In David Brin's ''Literature/KilnPeople'', a widespread technology is the creation of "dittoes", short-lived clay-based copies of a person that share their knowledge and upload their memories into their original at the end of the day. The problem is that the human brain only has space for a few hundred years' worth of memories -- ordinarily not that big a problem, since over your lifetime you'd only add maybe a century or so of memories. One character, however, has become a "queen bee" -- she stays in one place and sends out dozens of dittoes at a time to live her life for her -- and arranges for an elaborate suicide when she realizes she's almost out of room.
* Averted by the titular immortal of ''The Vampire Tapestry'', who remains active for roughly one human lifespan at a time, then goes into hibernation for an undetermined period, always waking as an amnesiac.
* In the novella ''Starplex'', this is the cause of one species' (the Ibs) natural death--the crystals that store their memories become full, and new memories begin overwriting their autonomic functions. Other species, once they develop immortality, eventually have to start discarding portions of their memories once they reach a certain age, though it's not clear what the side effects of not doing so would be.
* In Creator/BruceCoville's ''Literature/MyTeacherFriedMyBrains'', Duncan goes from dumb bully to super-genius after using an alien machine. However, his brain soon begins to pick up information like radio and TV signals out of the air, making it impossible for Duncan to think. Justified: [[spoiler:it turns out the alien's plan was to make his brain into a communication device so she could contact her leaders in space.]]
* The Dark Templar trilogy of books from ''VideoGame/StarCraft'' has this as one of the main plot threads. Human archaeologist Jacob Ramsey gets the entire mind and consciousness of a Protoss transferred to him, except this Protoss is a [[NeuroVault Preserver]], who has the memories of the entire race. This results in Jacob having several brain tumors develop, and he must find a way to get the Protoss out of his head.
* A short story and script for several anthology series: a man invents a memory enhancement drug, but finds that the result drives the adult insane. A baby/young child takes the drug, and their developing brain adapts to the new load. As a result, the child becomes a rich genius and take control of his parents and then the world.
* In Creator/PoulAnderson's ''World Without Stars'', humanity has achieved near immortality, but because our brains weren't designed to hold centuries of memories, every hundred years or so, people have to go in and decide what memories they want to keep, and what they want to forget.
* In ''The Ellimist Chronicles'' (an ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' prequel), Toomin (The Ellimist) is captured by "Father", a giant squid-like alien who connects his tentacles into the brains of his victims, and thus, having a network of hundreds of minds, has ridiculous intelligence (and the faculties to handle it). After decades of Father using Toomin as his plaything, Toomin finds a way to defeat him by absorbing all the thousands of minds that Father uses... into his ''one'' brain. The strain of having so many minds meant for so many body types caused him to hallucinate. Rather than finding a way to return to normal, however, he spends years building a spaceship/supercomputer to plug himself into (and escape Father's planet), which makes him capable of handling his newfound superintelligence. He is still mostly Toomin, however.
* ''Literature/TheSecretsOfTheImmortalNicholasFlamel'' series has Gilgamesh. Yes, ''the'' Gilgamesh from the earliest written story. He has [[AddedAlliterativeAppeal many millennia of memories]], [[WhoWantsToLiveForever causing him to go slightly nuts and lose track of some of them]]; he talked with one person for five minutes before remembering he wanted to kill that person.
* A ScienceFiction story released in one of Asimov's anthologies had people suddenly going catatonic because the new invention of TV stored a memory for every frame shown on-screen, causing people to run out of storage space. The President, advised of the problem, held a live teleconference to warn people of the problem and froze up while watching himself on the monitor opposite him.
* In ''Literature/FoundationAndEarth'', [[spoiler:Daneel]] is revealed to suffer from a bad case of this.
* In a variant, Kate in ''Literature/TheLongDarkTeaTimeOfTheSoul'' once read that the human brain can juggle a maximum of seven trains of thought or observation at once. Sure enough, when an eighth thought occurs to her, a plot-relevant detail she'd just begun to notice pops out of her head and is forgotten.
* In ''Literature/TimeEnoughForLove'', part of Creator/RobertAHeinlein's Future History series, this is noted as an issue when a computer seeks to download its personality into a WetwareBody in order to [[PinocchioSyndrome experience life as a human]]. The computer's mentor and confidant has to remind it that it won't have nearly the same processing power or capacity for information storage, and indeed once the feat is accomplished, the now-female human Minerva discusses the choices she made in terms of which memories to discard and which to keep in order to avoid this trope.
* In ''[[Literature/InheritanceCycle Inheritance]]'',[[spoiler:Galbatorix]] is defeated this way. [[spoiler:Realizing that Galbatorix and his infinite amount of power would be unable to kill with any amount of attacks thrown at him, Eragon decided to just cast a spell that would make him understand all the pain he has caused. He GoesMadFromTheRevelation. It's cooler and more epic than it sounds.]]
* The Creator/BruceSterling short story "Our Neural Chernobyl" is written as a review of a monograph studying the social and cultural effects on the world after an engineered virus is released that causes rampant dendritic growth -- essentially, making people's brains extremely plastic and adaptive so they can constantly learn and think at faster and faster rates. It also frequently causes lethal burnout, nicknamed "chernobyling" after the Chernobyl power plant disaster in the '80s. Eventually, the virus even jumps species, with some animals showing signs of increased yet distinctly inhuman intellect.
* A character in M. John Harrison's Viriconium stories can only remember the last two centuries of his life, although evidence suggests he is far, far older. He lives in a vast underground complex full of machines he doesn't remember building -- or what they do -- and entire wings he forgot existed.
* In the book ''Literature/FlowersForAlgernon'', the titular mouse and the intellectually disabled protagonist Charlie Gordon both are given extreme intelligence from an operation. However, [[spoiler:as time goes on both Algernon and Charlie Gordon start to degrade in intelligence before finally dying, with any way to stop this from occurring lost when Charlie started losing his intelligence]].
* In Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold's Literature/VorkosiganSaga, Barrayaran Imperial spymaster Simon Illyan was one of a host of low-ranking officers who'd had an eidetic memory chip implanted by order of the previous Emperor. Illyan was the only one not to suffer schizophrenia ''or worse'' as a result of the chip, largely by maintaining as small and pointless a personal life or personal opinions as possible. In the novel ''Literature/{{Memory}}'', however, the chip malfunctions and makes Illyan a massive security risk as he begins spouting countless secrets whenever he's not sedated, and it is slowly killing him. After the chip is removed, his memory is now much worse than a normal person's due to having leaned on the chip's capabilities for so long.
* The title character in ''Funes the Memorious'' by Creator/JorgeLuisBorges.
* The "total perspective vortex" in ''Literature/TheRestaurantAtTheEndOfTheUniverse'' appears to do something like this; by stuffing the entire vastness of the Universe into the victim's head, their personality is squashed into a nice compact ball of insanity.
* In ''Literature/TheAdventuresOfTomSawyer'', Tom mentions a boy who had an incredible memory, seeming to know every verse in the Bible. Until one day the mental strain of it broke his mind.
* There's a short story entitled "The Last Master of Limericks" that invokes this trope. The eponymous Last Master is, basically, a brain in a jar operating the defenses of the Solar System. It's kept "asleep" when not actually needed because of the trope. It muses at one point during the story that it long ago reached maximum capacity and now must continuously grow in order to have space to store new memories ... fortunately (or maybe not; it's got one of ''those'' endings), it's a ''large'' jar.
* In the ''Literature/ZacharyNixonJohnson'' series, a powerful psychic named Maggie Chill tries to read Zach's mind. However, since Zach is mentally linked with his A.I. assistant HARV, she ends up getting his entire computer database downloaded into her head. Zach compares it to trying to drink a glass of water and getting the entire Atlantic Ocean. The information overload knocks Maggie catatonic; HARV says that she'll survive, but will likely have a headache for weeks.
* ''Literature/TheDivineComedy'':
** When listening to the ghost of a crusader sing on Mars, our 14th century poet is so overwhelmed by the divine truths the ghost sings of that his intelligence can't contain them. Thankfully, the soldier-spirit simplifies his speech so the poet's mind doesn't crack like a twig.
** Even with Heaven's light and the Virgin Mary's intercession empowering him, Dante can't keep even a flawed memory of what God is like in his head, losing more memory of that event than memory had been lost of events from two thousand years before.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/{{Stargate|Verse}}'' used this a few times:
** In ''Series/StargateSG1'', there are Ancient Repositories, where if you stick your head in you get all the (possibly nearly infinite) knowledge of the Ancients, but a human mind will slowly degrade for as long as the information is still in there. Jack O'Neill got nailed ''twice'' by those devices, but was fortunately able to access enough information to work out how to contact the Asgard and have them remove the data. The Asgard were actually impressed by this: they'd previously assumed that human minds weren't advanced enough to do even that much, and that any human who tried would simply die.
** Also in ''Series/StargateSG1'', Orlin, an ascended Ancient, takes a human body in order to help the main characters with the current BigBad. Unfortunately, he holds onto the necessary knowledge for too long; he ends up suffering massive brain damage, and has to be institutionalized.
** When [=RepliCarter=] tried to download that same ascended knowledge from formerly ascended Daniel's brain, she was confident that the combined storage space of the Replicators would be sufficient to contain it. She was wrong. Nothing bad happened specifically because of it, but the distraction was enough for Daniel to get the better of her and seize control of the Replicators for a few minutes.
** In ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', a [[EvolutionaryLevels hyper-evolution]] machine gives Rodney [=McKay=] amazing mental powers (including psychic ones such as mind reading and telekinesis) -- but at the cost of it eventually killing off the part of his brain that controls the lower functions, such as his heartbeat. It's at the last moment of his life that he manages to figure out (using his amazing intellect) how to reverse the process to return to normal.
* This ''almost'' happened to Max in an episode of ''Series/DarkAngel'' which involved her taking a rival series clone's neural implant and installing it into her own brain. The strain nearly burnt out her nervous system.
* ''Series/DoctorWho''
** Creator/RussellTDavies is clearly very fond of this -- back in "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E13ThePartingOfTheWays The Parting of the Ways]]", Rose absorbs the time vortex, making her effectively a goddess, but is in danger of being "burned up" by the power and whispers, "I can see everything. The sun and the moon, the day and the night -- but why do they hurt? My head... is killing me."
** [[spoiler:Donna Noble]] has all of the Doctor's mind copied into her head; combined with human ingenuity, this makes her even cleverer than the Doctor. But her mind cannot take it, and the only way to save her [[spoiler:is to [[VictoryGuidedAmnesia remove all memories she has of the Doctor and their adventures]].]]
** In [[spoiler:a fatal example from]] "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E9ForestOfTheDead Forest of the Dead]]" [[spoiler:River Song uses her own brain as a data buffer to download the Library survivors out of the core, killing her in the process]]
** Becoming a Time Lord runs the risk of this. The initiates are taken to the Untempered Schism, a hole in space-time, and forced to look inside at the whole of time and space. Those who aren't inspired or run away tend to go completely flipping bonkers. The Doctor suspects The Master is a result of this.
* In ''Series/TheSecondComing'', Steve (played by Creator/ChristopherEccleston, who would later play the [[Series/DoctorWho ninth Doctor]]) discovers that he's literally the son of God. He compares the experience of accessing divine omniscience with a human brain to "downloading fifty-million megabits into a pocket calculator," and, though it doesn't seem to be actually dangerous, he admits that it hurts.
* Lt. Barclay in ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode "[[{{Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS4E19TheNthDegree}} The Nth Degree]]", although the newly gained super-intelligence doesn't seem to be dangerous in itself. The problem comes when he connects his brain directly to the ship's computer. He uploads himself and uses the extra processing power to expand his intelligence, but then realizes that his brain alone would be too small to contain it, so he's stuck in the computer until the end of the episode--[[spoiler:at which point, the Cytherians (who had sent the probe that zapped Barclay) removed most of the extra intelligence, though Barclay did seem to end the episode with a slight--but noticeable--permanent boost to his intellect.]]
** Done with Data's daughter Lal in "[[{{Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS3E16TheOffspring}} The Offspring]]". [[spoiler:First, she's able to use contractions. Then, she gets actual human emotions. Unfortunately her body cannot deal with this and she shuts down permanently.]]
* On ''Series/{{Andromeda}}'', Harper had a database downloaded into his brain (he has a computer port on his neck), and it played out similar to ''SG-1'', only instead of being directed to a single goal like O'Neill, Harper began and abandoned dozens of projects.
* In the ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' episode "[[Recap/BuffyTheVampireSlayerS3E18Earshot Earshot]]", where Buffy accidentally gets telepathy, she starts hearing everyone's thoughts all the time. This not only overwhelms her, but it will inevitably cause her to go crazy unless the telepathy is removed. There was one other person to have gotten this, and he ended up in complete isolation, away from any other people.
* In ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', Matt Parkman has this problem when he gets his telepathy, but after a while he learns to control it better and the problems stop.
** Until Ando super-charges Matt's power, causing a temporary but disabling case of this trope.
* ''Series/JoanOfArcadia'' had an episode where a child Joan had babysat earlier in the season died. In the middle of a RageAgainstTheHeavens rant at God, God offers to show her what he sees and hears every day. Fifteen seconds later, she's on the floor, unable to deal with the downsides of omniscience.
* Cordelia from ''Series/{{Angel}}'' is given the "gift" of visions that turned out to cause her brain to slowly deteriorate since humans weren't meant to have them. She keeps it secret for years before slipping into a coma and learning that she will eventually die from this if she doesn't agree to become half demon to compensate. She is also shown other examples of what happens because of the visions: one girl whose head literally blew out the back, and an alternate-universe Angel who was driven completely insane by them.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'s'' River Tam got along pretty well being incredibly intelligent with a bit of psychic ability. Then [[TheEmpire the government]] [[PlayingWithSyringes gets a hold of her]]. They make her undeniably kickass, but one consequence is that now her greatly increased psychic abilities make her insane, unable to filter out what she hears.
-->''"Make them stop! They're everywhere. Every city, every house, every room; they're all inside me! I can hear them all and they're saying... NOTHING! GET UP! Please, get up!... Please God, make me a stone."''
* ''Series/{{Chuck}}'' entirely averts this [[spoiler:until it's revealed that the reason Chuck was sent the Intersect was because he was one of the few people who wasn't immediately killed by this. After a few years it seems to finally be hurting him.]]
** And then, there's the instances where characters aside from Chuck gain the Intersect. [[spoiler: When Morgan had it, his memories were being fried and his normal personality was being "corrupted" by it. Moreover, in the series' final StoryArc, Sarah had to upload the Intersect in order to rescue Chuck from the BigBad, who had kidnapped him. However, much like Morgan, her memories took a hit and she ended up losing all that she remembered of the past five years. This gave the villain a chance to use the amnesiac Sarah as a weapon of sorts against Chuck.]] Keep in mind, that these instances involved variations of the Intersect that were tampered with "trojan horses".
* And even moreso of ''Series/{{Dead At 21}}'', in which the hero has one year to keep the intellect-enhancing chip in his brain from frying it.
* ''Series/RedDwarf''
** In "[[Recap/RedDwarfSeasonVHoloship Holoship]]", Rimmer has all the knowledge and experience of two officers of the ship transferred into his own mind so as to pass an exam. Kryten warns him, however, that it could "reduce him to a gibbering wreck". It doesn't, and the result is slightly unnerving.
** In "[[Recap/RedDwarfSeasonIVWhiteHole White Hole]]", the ship's computer Holly finds a way to boost her intelligence and undo three million years of "computer senility". Overclocking it, she gets an IQ of 12,368 (over her original IQ of 6,000) at the cost of reduced run-time: about 3 and a half minutes.
* On one episode of Scifi's ''Series/TheInvisibleMan'', Hobbes was accidentally stabbed with a serum that would cause his intelligence to rapidly increase. However, he'd go through several stages, gradually becoming an InsufferableGenius, then a [[TheyCalledMeMad crazy genius]], then, with this trope, his brain would become so advanced he would retreat into his own mental world of absolute knowledge, and stop using or caring about his body at all. Fortunately, it was stopped and reversed at the InsufferableGenius stage.
** One of the college students who was injected committed suicide and took the creator of the serum with her. The other three ended up catatonic. According to the Keeper, "they found them [[their minds]] and it was more than they could handle."
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'': Seven of Nine downloads huge amounts of data straight into her head, but can't handle it, and starts creating wild conspiracy theories.
** The scary thing is how much sense most of them make, given the evidence she provides.
*** Until she starts using the exact same evidence to create different, contradictory theories.
** The Doctor tries it by uploading the knowledge of many geniuses, but he also ends up getting their dark sides too. He gains an EvilGenius SplitPersonality.
* An episode of ''Series/AmazingStories'', "One for the Books", had a man involuntarily soaking up all the knowledge contained in the library in which he worked, which quickly drove him towards madness. In the end [[spoiler: it's learned that it was done by aliens, as a way to gather all that info; they "squeezed" it out of him and went on their way]].
* On ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'' Kelly Bundy goes on a tv trivia game show on the subject of sports. Her father Al & brother Bud teach her quite a lot of trivia, but they're careful because they know that if her brain gets full then something she already knows will fall out. Unfortunately, when she appears on the show she "learns" something new and sure enough, the audience hears a "ping" as an old piece of knowledge falls out of her brain. Come the $1,000,000 question and Kelly doesn't know the answer. The question: [[spoiler:Who once scored four touchdowns in a single game for Polk High School in Chicago]]? The answer: [[spoiler:Al Bundy]].
* ''Series/TalesFromTheDarkside'' features an episode entitled "The Bitterest Pill" In it, a man invents a pill that allows for knowledge to be gained and stored at an alarming rate when taken. The only Side-effect being an agonizing headache. He tries to convince his friends (a married couple who are neglectful and dismissive of their only son) to invest in the production of the pill but while the conversation is taking place, the child takes a few of the pills and even comments that they taste delicious on top of everything else. In the next scene he is shown to have become emancipated from his parents as well as the CEO of a company that produces the pill. In the last few moments of the episode, He speaks of the initial inventor's mistake and says that the inventor never realized that his pill worked best on a mind that was still developing rather than a fully grown one adding that the inventors mind overloaded and couldn't take the massive influx of information.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''ComicStrip/TheFarSide'' spoofs this in one comic. A student with a comically tiny head raises his hand in a classroom and asks the teacher, "May I be excused? My brain is full."

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Wizardry}}: Bane of the Cosmic Forge'', one NPC is a moderately evil wizard who wished on the Cosmic Forge that "I shall know everything." The artifact's solution to the trope was to split him into two consciousnesses and divide the knowledge between them. However, as it chose to concentrate data in the one that got the body, he went insane anyway. The one who got the understanding (the "hows" and "whys") relates the story to your party.
* In the sequel, ''VideoGame/{{Wizardry}} 8'', this can happen to ''your own party''. One of [[MacGuffin Mac Guffins]] necessary to complete the game is Destinae Dominus, the key to knowledge. If it is held by member not wearing Helm Of Serenity, everyone in the party will become insane.
* It has become an open secret that that Arakune of ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' WasOnceAMan, but a good portion of his dementia comes from a [[BuffySpeak Runneth Overing Skull]]. [[spoiler: He acquired so much knowledge that his mind began dumping random parts of his psyche, and the process is ongoing. Of course, that means the knowledge he possesses about everything--including himself--is essentially random at all times.]] This makes all the attempts to save him with ThePowerOfLove more tragic.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII2'': [[spoiler:Serah]] and [[spoiler:Yeul]] will experience a vision of the future every time [[spoiler:the timeline is changed by resolving or causing paradoxes]]. While that may sound alright, [[PowerDegeneration each vision affects them worse and worse]] (it begins as a small migraine, and eventually causes them to faint each time) until they [[spoiler:eventually [[DownerEnding keel over and die]].]]
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'', the Prothean Beacons were designed to easily transfer information across their Empire. However, because no other race possesses the Protheans' natural empathic abilities, viewing them can potentially run the risk of destroying a weak-willed individual's mind entirely.
* In ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'': Consular companion Felix Iresso and another soldier were captured by Imperials and had Sith holocrons forcibly downloaded into their heads. Sith holocrons are bad enough news, as they corrupt Force Sensitives, but Felix and his pal weren't. They can't willingly access the information, and Felix's buddy went insane after the information surfaced. Unfortunately for Felix, there doesn't seem to be a cure, so he's left with a ticking time bomb in his head.
* ''[[VideoGame/DevilSurvivor Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor]]'': {{Downplayed}} with Cain, [[spoiler: a.k.a. Naoya]]. On the up-side, living forever has given him an [[MagnificentBastard uncanny exploitative insight into human nature and motivation]] so complete that he can accurately predict an entire city's future (barring a ScrewDestiny manuver, of course). On the not-so-upside, his immortality and perfect memory have left him unable to relate to most people and give him deep frustration at seeing history's mistakes repeated constantly.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Bloodborne}}'', the School of Mensis [[spoiler: made contact with the Great One Mergo, but either the eldritch knowledge they gained or merely the contact with an EldritchAbomination caused 'the stillbirth of their brains'. A similar thing seems to have happened to Master Willem, judging by his vegetative state by the time you encounter him.]]
* In ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series, the [[OurElvesAreBetter Ayleids ("Wild Elves")]] were AbusivePrecursors who [[SlaveryIsASpecialKindOfEvil enslaved]] Cyrodiil's native Nedic people, ancestors of most of the modern races of Men in Tamriel. Like their Welkynd and Varla stones, the Ayleids possessed crystals which could [[GhostMemory release memories directly to the user]]. Overuse of these crystals was said to cause a "problem of capacity" for mortal minds.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'': Sollux is a high-level psionic. The mind honey which boosts his lusus from idiocy completely [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=004053 overloads]] his brain when he eats it.[[note]]YOU DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE EAT THE MIND HONEY.[[/note]] He recovers, but there are terrible consequences.
* ''Webcomic/{{Mindmistress}}'' gets her super-intelligence from a [[AppliedPhlebotinum Phlebotinum]] pulse that kills the target in two weeks unless reversed (the brain grows so much that it is analogous to brain cancer). Her non-super self is mentally challenged.
** Also used in a different way in a later story, where the villains of the week attempts to steal her knowledge. They all go insane -- the human mind cannot handle that much knowledge.
** Forthought is an ordinary man who underwent the same process. He is considerably smarter than MM and with his more advanced mental capacity he wills his brain to not have cancer rather than transform back.
* In ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' a race of [[OurImmortalsAreDifferent Immortal]] aliens are found on a backworld planet. The collapse of the civilization nearly a million years ago was due to their experiments with immortality, leading to this trope as many of them went insane due to too many days going by too similar for the mind to sort out. Amongst the many measures they tried, only one worked -- upgrade their brains to make them controllably forget or ignore vast swathes of their memories.
* In ''Webcomic/KillSixBillionDemons'', the {{God Emp|eror}}ress Jadis forced herself to witness the True Shape of the Universe, a feat that once caused a goddess' eyes to boil in their sockets. This made her TheOmniscient but scoured her body and mind, leaving her a DarkLordOnLifeSupport who can do nothing but whisper infallible prophecies from the block of glass in which she's entombed.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Apparently, this is what happen to humans coming in contact with the mysterious being [[http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-606 SCP-606]] residing at the Wiki/SCPFoundation, resulting in coma and death from overload of information. The entity doesn't seem to do it out of malice, instead calling it "enlightening" its victims.
** [[http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-028 SCP-028]] can also overwhelm an unprepared person.
* During the Happy Hour arc of ''WebVideo/ImAMarvelAndImADC'', an ExpositionBeam is weaponized to do this on a small scale.
* In the ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'', this effect is one of the many reasons why 75% of all [[PsychicPowers mentalists]] end up going stark raving mad.
* This is the outcome of Project Caterpillar in ''Literature/{{Twig}}'', as Jamie's PhotographicMemory produces too much information and he fails to pull himself together after an appointment, leading to a DeathOfPersonality.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/CodeLyoko'' example: Jérémie once tried to use the same quantum memory technology that powered the Supercomputer to enhance his own brainpower. Of course, it backfired due to both the immense physical strain and the fact that XANA introduced the possibility of that maneuver as a RedHerring.
* In an episode of the ''WesternAnimation/MenInBlack'' animated series, [[ETGaveUsWiFi aliens bring to Earth a "Cerebral Accelerator" that boosts human intelligence]]. Agent J tries it on before [=MiB=] has a chance to safety-test it for side-effects and learns the device gives him RippleEffectProofMemory (which proves very convenient, since it happens at the same time that someone tries to pull a RetGone on the entire [=MiB=] organization) but will eventually make [[YourHeadASplode his head a splode]]. [[spoiler:After foiling the plot, and just before he burns out, he uses the time-travel tech to tell his startled past self, "Don't touch that!"]]
* The episode of ''WesternAnimation/JimmyNeutronBoyGenius'' where Sheen, who is somewhere between TheDitz and a {{Cloudcuckoolander}}, is hit with Jimmy's brain-gain helmet, [[WhatAnIdiot without fixing the issue of the original brain-drain helmet]], a limiter. At first, it just results in incredible intelligence and [[MyBrainIsBig a much larger head]], but after a while, Sheen gets outstanding PsychicPowers, an AGodAmI complex, and [[RefugeInAudacity a head the size of a]] ''[[RefugeInAudacity house]]'' before the ResetButton is hit.
** At one point, Jimmy calculates the maximum possible number Sheen's IQ could grow to. ''[[SerialEscalation It hits infinity.]]''
* This is the entire reason why WesternAnimation/{{Freakazoid}} is so damn zany: the accident that empowered Dexter also uploaded ''all'' information from the Internet into his brain. Maybe that wasn't that big of a deal back then, considering the volume of info had yet to reach the terabytes (perhaps even gigabytes), but even at that time, that was still a lot for a single brain to handle.
** Though it could also have to do with what ''all the information from the Internet'' encompasses...
* This is used against a villain in one episode of ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck''. In the final showdown, DW and Launchpad get their hands on the [[ShoutOut Norma Ray]], a device that increases your IQ and gives you psychic powers as long as you clear your mind of all thought (or else you get a [[MyBrainIsBig literal]] and [[InsufferableGenius figurative]] "swelled head"). They bombard the villain with rays while asking him a bunch of tough questions at once, causing him to lose his concentration and [[YourHeadASplode make his head so big that it blows up]].
* Happens to ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' of all people, in the episode "Squilliam Returns". Squidward turns the Krusty Krab into a fine dining establishment to impress Squilliam, and Spongebob is to wait tables. After learning everything associated with fine dining, [[MySkullRunnethOver his skull runneth over]] [[UpToEleven badly]] -- he cannot even remember his own name any more! The only thing he can remember, except for fine dining, is breathing.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheBatman'', Dr. Strange gets all the knowledge in the universe in return for helping [[spoiler: the Joining]]. When he receives it, he ends up comatose (though the ComicBook/MartianManhunter can still read his mind to get the information they need to defeat [[spoiler: The Joining]]).
* Bulkhead of ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', after getting the Cybertronian data cylinder's contents uploaded into his brain becomes much smarter, but the influx of knowledge threatens to erase his memories and override his original personality.
* In ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown'', using the Shen Gong Wu named Fountain of Hui grants the user insight to anything and everything. However, without its sister-Wu the Eagle Scope, which is mostly an uber-telescope, the Fountain of Hui will only grant the user a humongous head and random facts, such as the length of the world's largest toenail, which they will babble incessantly for about a week.
** It also seems to imply that using the Fountain of Hui without the Eagle Scope results in pain as well as the huge head and random fact-spouting, given that Omi's immediate action after saying the length of the world's largest toenail is to grip his head and complain "Ow..."
* In ''WesternAnimation/XMenEvolution'', Rogue's power absorption eventually left her with fragments of all the people she absorbed, such that she couldn't help randomly using their powers occasionally. Then she went and bumped into Mystique, providing a handy outlet for those fragments in the form of shapeshifting. A rampage ensued. Xavier had to telepathically purge her of all the accumulated personalities to get her back under control.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', Homer believes that mundane learning has this effect on him, citing as an example a time when he took a home wine-making course and forgot how to drive. Marge points out the more obvious cause of this loss of ability.
-->'''Marge''': That's because you were ''drunk!''\\
'''Homer:''' [[ComicallyMissingThePoint And how!]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'', Felix Faust makes a bargain with Hades for ultimate knowledge; when Hades gives it to him, Faust cries in pain and begins to shrivel and wither, making it seem like this trope is in effect. {{Subverted}}; Hades then tells him that "Ultimately, pain and suffering are all mankind will ever know," making it seem more like a cruelly poetic version of RewardedAsATraitorDeserves than this trope.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* People with bipolar disorder often go through a period of high creativity, fast and often quite clever thinking before the sleep-deprivation psychosis kicks in. The feeling of being on such a high can often be like one's skull literally overflowing with energy; and sleep deprivation doesn't need to happen. The insomnia can be controlled with medication, for a start.
* Also people with EideticMemory can set off a memory at any time by some random thing, be it good or bad. As mentioned in one example under BlessedWithSuck/RealLife of BlessedWithSuck, in extreme cases this may even end up fatal.
* Subverted by people who have suffered the loss of a substantial portion of their brains, due to strokes, tumors, accidents or surgery, yet continue to function and accumulate memories normally throughout their lives. Even patients who have entire cerebral hemispheres removed to halt their epileptic seizures don't "run out" of memory-space, despite having only 50% storage capacity.
* Certain kinds of autistic patients known as ''savants'' make up for their seemingly handicapped social skills with superhuman computational ability.
* Solomon Shereshevskii, a Russian mnemotist (who did not, in fact, have an EideticMemory) had the ability to remember things so well that he became dislocated in time; he eventually became unable to tell whether the thing you just told him happened 5 minutes or 5 years ago. He had to literally learn to mentally remove facts from his memory (in other words, deliberately forget). It didn't help that he had fivefold synaesthesia, an extremely strong form of synaesthesia in which stimulating one sense meant a reaction from them ''all''. Wiki/ThatOtherWiki [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_Shereshevskii has an article on him.]]
* Some types of [=DDoS=] (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks are the computer equivalent of this trope, with the server(s) being deluged with information or requests for same, beyond their capacity to keep up.
* Speaking of computers, overclocking or improperly cooling a [=CPU=] can result in the thing overheating and burning out.