Thursday, August 11, 2011
Secrets of You Brain: Post #2--Understanding
Understanding Your Brain. This section covers a half dozen articles, all largely based on how the brain works and how much and how little we now know about it. In “It’s One Amazing Machine,” the brain is diagrammed with key functions explained in a sentence or two, which I found extremely effective and a great baseline for the rest of the publication (see p. 13). “Compared to other animals, humans have an extremely large cortex—thus their superior intelligence” (p. 14) puts a cap on this article after a lot of specific detail. In “Your Teen’s Amazing Brain,” we learn that the brain physiologically prunes back cells to prepare it for adulthood. But it does so from the back of the brain forward; thus the executive control center, the prefrontal cortex, is the last to get upgraded…so judgment in teenagers is their short suit. Controlled risk taking for teens might actually help them mature faster. “Rewiring Your Decision Making” discusses heuristics (short cut rules of thumb) that make life easier for us to make decisions. The problem is that shortcuts in critical situations, like skiing in threatening terrain or driving in dangerous conditions, can get us hurt or even killed. The authors talk about three common perilous heuristics: the familiarity heuristic (we take things for granted at our own peril); the default heuristic (we stick with what we know, even when it might hurt us); and, the acceptance heuristic (we make decisions based on the approval of others). “Straight-A Students, Take Note [Your Emotional Intelligence Might Mean More to Your Success in Life Than Book Smarts]” discusses the importance of emotional intelligence—self awareness, self regulation, empathy and social intelligence. The author warns us about things like e-mails that lack the benefit of non-verbal feedback, are often interpreted as negative, and can lead to risk taking that causes us to say things we might later regret.