Avoid the brain drain

26 October 2017

They’re everywhere. Shake the tree and a dozen or so will fall out. Everyone’s a neuroscientist! But let’s not get too pre-occupied with their credentials. I have after all dealt with this in some detail in a previous article at https://www.bebee.com/producer/@ian-weinberg/drowning-in-snake-oil Let’s rather home in on what they do with their ‘credentials’.

Several years ago I was approached by a coach who was facilitating a local certification program for a ‘Big Name’ international neuroscientist-neurocoach. This ‘Big Name’ neuroscientist had recently evolved to become the director of a neuroscience INSTITUTE, specializing in the application of neuroscience in the corporate environment. I was invited to consider lecturing the neuroscience component to the students. The coach met me at my consulting suite and presented me with the ‘curriculum’ on a memory stick containing 1.2Gb of information. A review of the contents revealed a collection of most of the neuro-research that had appeared in the relevant neuroscience publications over the preceding two years. I indicated to the coach that there was apparently no application or curriculum on the memory stick. She looked at me somewhat blankly. I couldn’t discern if it was an ignorant look, a puzzled look, a shocked look or a look of persistent religious awe. So I responded: “ There is no application nor curriculum on this memory device, my dear. Only a collection of research articles. What is your average corporate individual to do with all this info?”

She continued to stare at me with the look of religious awe, but now punctuated with a slight reddening of the cheeks and a barely discernable shrug of the shoulders. Well to cut a long story short, I had to use my own program and application as a vehicle to carry over the neuroscience concepts into the corporate environment for someone else’s certification course. Interestingly, this Big Name neuroscientist was lambasted in the Australian press a short time later, for inflicting unusable and inapplicable neuroscience stuff upon corporate Australia. You see folks it’s a classical case of ‘bullshit baffles brains’!

So here follows my concise neuroscience handout based on some validated neuroscience info and an application to boot. If it works for you, great. If not, well just hit the delete button. The processes which I’m about to describe take place in the only brain that we have, the organ that sits in the cranium between your ears. Do not believe in the ‘fake news’ that there’s also a brain in your heart and one in your bowels. The definition of a brain is a cognitive organ incorporating motor, sensory and emotional circuitry. When you damage your heart, you don’t lose cognitive function. Emotionally, you may at most experience a temporary low. Similarly if we resect parts of your bowel we don’t interfere with your thought processes!

Ultimately life is a tussel between two brain centres – the dopamine producing nucleus accumbens (NA) and adrenaline-cortisol producing amygdala (Amyg). The NA supports the functions of reward gratification, purpose, curiosity and achievement. The Amyg is about fear, anxiety and anger. These two centers work in opposition to each other such that gratification, purpose etc suppress fear, anxiety and anger. Conversely, fear anxiety and anger suppress gratification, purpose etc. The preponderance of each is determined by the unique nurture dynamics – the more nurture reward experienced, the more NA; the more deprivation, the more Amyg. The function of each is also a reflection of life circumstances – low NA is associated with hopelessness and purposelessness while increase Amyg is associated with fear and anger. The brain requires a threshold level of NA activity. If not forthcoming, it induces compensatory behavior that increase dopamine – excessive eating, drinking, exercise, sex, drugs and the like. Yes you guessed it, the addictions.

There are two other brain areas which suppress Amyg activity – the cingular gyrus (oxytocin stimulating), the seat of empathy, trust and belief and the pre-frontal cortex, the seat of higher reasoning. So it’s potentially three against one to secure a gratifying existence versus fear and anger - the gratification and purposefulness of the NA; the oxytocin stimulating cingular gyrus and the reasoning ability of the pre-frontal cortex which cognitively modulates extreme fear, anxiety and anger.

This dynamic becomes critical when we recognize the effects this neurophysiology has on our immune system. The low NA, high Amyg state of fearful hopeless-helplessness suppresses our immunity and stimulates inflammation in any potential target area. This lays us open to arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, cardio-vascular illnesses, neuro-degenerative illnesses and cancer. The high NA, low Amyg configuration is wellness-enhancing.

So when all is said and done, where to from here? Simple ….

Strive to be curious by engaging with the greater environment. This is easily achievable by periodically stopping to really ‘smell the roses’. Run a checklist, a personal mission statement, to gain focus of meaningful and personally gratifying life interests and environments. Engage!

Attempt to really see, hear and read without distraction or judgment.

Reason and validate information on a broad base – don’t get stuck in a narrow context or be hijacked by ‘fake news’ or negative emotions.

When something unfortunate happens to others, stop for a moment, really listen to them and put yourself in their shoes. And perhaps feel for a short while what it’s like to be them at that moment.

Remind yourself of your own blessings, talents and successes.

Finally remember that none of us had any say in what gave rise to who we became and none of us really have that much control over what becomes of us in the greater scheme of things. We are, each one of us, a unique subjectivity which result from nature-nurture influences together with life’s multiple knocks. We make our choices based upon our subjectivity. In absolute terms then, we control very little. It’s really just a throw of the dice …

Archive

9 December 2017
Reflections in a cemetery

3 December 2017
Go forth and multiply

15 November 2017
Reflections of a mirror

29 October 2017
Dumbing down

4 September 2017
An authentic lead

30 August 2017
Pop

23 August 2017
Respect begins at home

16 July 2017
An awe-full story

3 July 2017
Mushroom soup

2 June 2017
Relativity, relatives and other relationships

29 May 2017
Inflamed and smoked

25 May 2017
An Ode to my Mentor

10 May 2017
Counter-evolutionary

27 April 2017
Inspire

16 April 2017
Lost in an expert fog

12 April 2017
Don't be short-changed

30 March 2017
A brAIve New World

15 March 2017
The problem with Gus

12 March 2017
United in Energy

5 March 2017
Transcending emotions

25 February 2017
In the blink of an eye

25 February 2017
The real story about emotions

27 January 2017
Meditation Re-visited

21 January 2017
As a light to a flame

31 December 2016
Drowning in snake oil

24 December 2016
In the glow of an aura

19 December 2016
Mindfully yours

14 December 2016
Time to transcend the Flat Earth Society

4 December 2016
Prejudice and other violations

20 November 2016
Lighting up the Abyss

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Embrace the Zeitgeist and Transcend

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A Curious Life

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Perhaps we ought to read the stars?

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The Lethal Cocktail of Fear with an Existential Crisis

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The truth about truth

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Conscious Integration

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The Toxicity of the Social Media

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Time to Integrate

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The Essence of Effective Leadership

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Engage with the Eloquence of Neuromodulation

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A Cathartic Therapeutic Moment

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Gateway to Consciousness

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Profile of Hatred and Cruelty

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A Two-Point Solution

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In Mitigation of Limiting Deprivation Determinants

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Lamenting our intellectual malaise

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Respectful Intervention

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The Creative Leadership Zone

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Coaching to Pleasure

6 May 2015
Glowing the Void - Thoughts under a May Full Moon

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Context and Integration

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11 January 2015
Effective Intervention

3 January 2015
The re-emergence of the right hemisphere

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Where is consciousness?

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A Strong Determinism

15 February 2014
The Physiology of Mindfulness

16 August 2013
The Triple Wheel Combination Model of Value-based Leadership

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Authenticity and Leadership

13 January 2013
The Neurobiology of Empathy

29 November 2012
Neuroplasticity

8 June 2012
The brain as a deterministic blueprint

21 April 2012
That 'Aha' Moment

17 April 2011
Rewarding Value

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The Dangers of Cyber-space

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Enhancing Gratification

23 June 2010
Systemic Degeneration

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Meaning and Purpose

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Medical Challenges