What has Neuroscience been teaching me? #1

Posted in Books,Neuroscience by wikithink on February 8, 2014

Neuroscience sounds like complex stuff,  but it is not. Curiosity about trying to understand human beings has lead me into neuroscience, and has provided me a lot of great insights about the people we have around.

Curiosity started with, what is right brain all about? So I read “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future” by Daniel H. Pink.  That one helped to understand why right brain is so important in today’s world.

Then it was the turn of “Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect with Others”
by Marco Iacoboni. More science stuff, but it was interesting to understand what is empathy all about.

Finally curiosity wanted more about this, so it was all about to understand Emotional Intelligence, so let’s go for a classic: “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” by Daniel Goleman and loved it. That was the point where you would read whatever about your enjoying topic, a magazine or a web article, so “TIME The Science of You: The Factors That Shape Your Personality” was on my way. And later on, “Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships” by Daniel Goleman, and “Harvard Business Review OnPoint (Winter 2013)” about finding your focus.

So looking for a place to compile what I have learned about this, I came up with this post.

– A very good news: the brain can learn new behaviors, can wire new paths, so we can change the way we react to stuff that happens to us. Your brain has the capacity, along the way, to change its very structure and organization, to change the pathways of communication—simply through the active communication between your neurons.

– Seeing eye to eye opens a pathway for empathy. Mindsight amounts to peering into the mind of a person to sense their feelings and deduce their thoughts—the fundamental ability of empathic accuracy.

– How our parents treated us has left its genetic imprint over and above the set of DNA they passed down to us. And how we treat our children will dot the same, so watch out!

-Right vs left brain: what we know about the right hemisphere’s specialties… It’s where we “sense” feelings (ours and those of others). It’s deeply connected to the viscera (our gut-organs) and the body, and it activates our emotions. It’s very much into nonverbal information, such as body language and facial expressions. Your right hemisphere’s big jobs (when it comes to relationships) might be summed up this way: body sensation, raw emotions (like anger and fear), and danger assessment. If you’re too heavily dependent on the right prefrontal area, you’re also more likely to be overly risk-avoidant, and generally more anxious and fearful. Your left hemisphere has a tremendous capacity to help you approach social connectedness. It also affords you “positive” feelings like the motivation to go after meaningful goals, the appreciation of beauty, the sense of connection and affiliation, “getting” humor, left prefrontal activity is what gives us our sense of purpose in life and the motivation to go pursue it.

– Your brain is constantly assessing your situation for safety/ danger. (Oh God!) If it determines that things are safe and good, then your body, via one part of your nervous system (the parasympathetic nervous system) is set to relaxation, receptivity, openness, flexibility, and connection to the world and people around you…..But if the brain determines that things out there are not being safe or are potentially painful, it activates a different part of your nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system, and the fight-or-flight reaction kicks in.  Your sympathetic system’s duties have to do with responding to threats and other things that motivate you – it gets you moving, revved up, like the accelerator of an engine.  Your parasympathetic system is all about getting your body to slow back down, like the brakes on your car—to get your body to conserve energy, make necessary repairs, and recover from the stress that your sympathetic responses have caused.

– Did you know that there are about 100 billion neurons in your brain?

– These are the parts of the brain related to social connection:

…Amygdala: is a key player in our emotional life. (we actually have a pair of them, one on each side of your brain)…main job of the amygdala is to make an immediate assessment of safety or danger and to tell you whether you should feel scared or angry. It also plays a role in the formation of your earliest, “preconscious” memories (the memories from before age two or three), as well as (we think) memories of traumatic events. When you enter into a hospital, and you feel immediately anxious or anguish, which remembers you back the moment and the emotions you had in your last visit to a close family member, that is the amygdala working….

…Hippocampus has a lot to do with organizing memory, particularly the kind of memory that you potentially have conscious access. It helps you keep things in context when it comes to emotional responses.

…Insula keeps the lines of communication open between your inner and outer experiences of your body and your emotions, linking your higher-level “thinking” cortex and your more purely “emotional” limbic region. Research says that the insula seems to be a key player in your capacity for empathy.

…Anterior cingulate cortex judges what’s most important right now in your body, in your immediate environment, or the people you’re with.

….Orbitomedial prefrontal cortex, it is the higher-level reasoning, planning, organization, directing your attention, holding back your impulses.

So….#1 this is just a pice….more to come!

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