Showing posts with label neuroscience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label neuroscience. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Subtle Art of Comeback.----Why The Science Of Resilence is Important

                  I am sure that we have faced setbacks at some stage in our life. Calculations have gone wrong in spite of our best efforts. Many times Things do not turn out as we predict them to be. Life has always been unpredictable for everyone. Be it a child or the most powerful person, no one is spared! This is true for every professional and individual. As parents, when we raise our children or hold on to a failing relationship, these mishaps follow us. It is not every time that we are able to overcome them in the desired time period. We learn to live them.

The moment when failure stares at us, clawing back, seems a distant reality. Many believe that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. A comeback is for a chosen few who have a strong mindset. But in reality, our mind has other plans. A comeback is manufactured! And is the building block for a new life of hope and happiness. We all stage a comeback sooner or later but the time is taken and the belief separates the successful individuals.
Comebacks are always possible; to be honest, they happen all the time. However, if you have had a setback, a comeback may seem impossible to you. Our journey of life is full of setbacks, no matter who you are. Financial problems, health issues, divorce, loss of a loved one — these and many more visit all of us. The difficult part is how you can overcome your setback. How do you accept a setback and make a comeback?
A comeback will always begin with change. If you desire a comeback you are going to have to change. Unless you change what you presently are doing or not doing, things are going to remain the same. There is no chance of a comeback. You have to be willing to do things differently from what you’ve done up to this point.
Awareness changes your mind. It happens when you receive new information or gain new knowledge — this is a change of mind.
Change happens when you adopt a new attitude. When you decide that your way of thinking is going to change — this is a change of heart. Change always happens when you choose to be committed and be perseverant — this will change your future.
Not that it will change your past but it will pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.
Like it or not, success doesn’t always happen overnight. In fact, some of the world’s most famous high achievers heard “no” at least once (and often quite a few times) before getting that all-important “yes.”
Whether you’re teaching your child or dealing with a task at hand.Failure is bound to strike you at some stage.Y ou have to get up, rewire and give it back.
Here are a few of successful people who prove that the best way to face failure is to just keep going.
 J.K. Rowling
Five years before publishing one of the most influential books of the 21st century, J.K. Rowling was living on welfare and struggling as a single mother.
Rowling wrote the first book in the Harry Potter series while working during the night as a teacher, but the manuscript was rejected 12 times by the publisher.
When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone eventually did get published, Rowling was advised not to quit her day job since her chance of success was slim. And, of course, with over 450 million Harry Potter books sold worldwide, we all know how that really turned out!
Steven Spielberg
Now one of the Hollywood’s most respected directors, Steven Spielberg was rejected by his school of choice for film three different times. But he didn’t let that stop him.
Spielberg eventually secured an internship at Universal Studios after enrolling in a different college. During that internship, he was asked to direct a small film, with his work impressing Universal executives so much that they offered him a seven-year contract. He became the youngest director ever hired by the studio.
Sudha Chandran.
She is an Indian television and film actress and an accomplished Bharatnatyam dancer who lost her leg when she was 16 as a result of a road accident during a pilgrimage in Tamil Nadu. The bus she was traveling in hit a truck and her feet got stuck in the chaos. Her right foot was critically injured. Unfortunately for her, the doctors made a mistake while trying to cure the infection. This mistake cost Sudha her right leg.
“To stop the spread of the infection, her right leg had to be amputated 7.5 inches below the knee.”
Very rarely we come across people who have the courage and heart to make a comeback after tragedy strikes their personal lives.
May 2nd, 1981 was the day that changed Sudha Chandran forever. But she proved that she was not a quitter. She started to lose all hopes as she realized with every dance session while wearing the artificial leg, her foot began to bleed and the pain became more severe as the pace of her dancing increased. Though she was determined to overcome it.
It was after all this, that she received so much respect from the media, got an offer to act in a film based on her life and received tons of opportunities.
Marvan Attapatu
Making his debut in Test cricket for Sri Lanka, Marvan scored a duck in his first innings. And again, in his second innings.
They dropped him. So he went back to the nets for more practice. More first-class cricket. More runs. Waiting for that elusive call. And after twenty-one months, he got a second chance.
This time, he tried harder. His scores: 0 in the first innings, 1 in the second Dropped again, he went back to the grind. And scored tonnes of runs in first-class cricket. Runs that seemed inadequate to erase the painful memories of the Test failures. Well, seventeen months later, opportunity knocked yet again. Marvan got to bat in both innings of the Test. His scores: 0 and 0. Phew!
Back to the grind. Would the selectors ever give him another chance? They said he lacked big-match temperament. His technique wasn’t good enough at the highest level. Undaunted, Marvan kept trying.
Three years later, he got another chance. This time, he made runs. He came good. And in an illustrious career thereafter, Marvan went on to score over 5000 runs for Sri Lanka. That included sixteen centuries and six double hundreds. And he went on to captain his country. All this despite taking over six years to score his second run in Test cricket. Wow! What a guy!
How many of us can handle failure as well as he did? Six years of trying, and failing. He must have been tempted to pursue another career. Change his sport perhaps. Play county cricket. Or, oh well, just give up. But he didn’t. And that made the difference.
 “Perseverance is everything. Everybody has failures, but successful people keep on going.”
                     So I decided to explore the reasons why some people can stage a comeback while others fail. Going through my research and my interventions with people of all age groups, I ended up making the laws of neuroplasticity. These are based on neuroscience, neurophysics and the changes taking place in our brain. These laws were always existing in our lives but we never realized that these were making our thought process autonomous (without our conscious control).
The next problem I faced was to reach out to layman so everyone can know about these laws and can get benefited. I realized that most of the people understood these mechanisms when they were in a happy state. But would they be able to recollect these mechanisms when the tide was against them? So hence decide to explain these laws in the form of stories so I could make an impression in the mind of how our human mind works.
This is the first time when someone has tried to attempt this feat. So, I was skeptical and took reviews from people from all walks of life. I worked on the stories so even if people do not read the science part, I could reach out to them with the stories and simple explanations of the process. In spite of the many rejections of my content by my non-medico wife, Darshana, I persisted with the book until she gave me a thumbs up.

What a comeback! Is an inspiring journey of 10 friends who go through torrid times in their lives?
It gives us an insight into the functioning of the thought processes that govern our responses both in favorable and in tough times. The stories of Sam and his friends make the readers realize that they too can be superheroes in their lives and they do not need to wait for a miracle, to come up with the right decisions in life.
Each and every story is about a common man, his everyday problems and his tirade against the uncertainties of life. The book takes you on a journey into the brain of the characters and how the brain functions and overcomes difficult situations.
The intention of writing the book is to leave the reader with a sense of hope and belief that a comeback is possible in their life at any stage, no matter what destiny presents us in our journey. If the book can change the life of a single individual, my goal will be achieved.

"No one has ever achieved great heights if they have not mastered the art of the comeback." Dr. Chirag Jain
Bottom of Form
The link to my book -----kindle version     http://amzn.in/7l2aUZV 
                                         Paperback         What a Comeback! - The laws that change the way we think


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Unfolding the reasons behind a rape by a four year old.


A four-and-a-half-year-old boy has been booked for raping a classmate inside the classroom as well as the washroom of a prominent private school in west Delhi on Friday, police said.
The girl, who is of the same age, told her mother that the boy used his finger and a sharpened pencil to assault her sexually.
The assault caused wounds in the child’s private parts, her mother said.
Though they registered a case of rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was registered, police were unsure how to proceed with the prosecution because of the suspect’s age.
 The Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides children below seven years of age certain protections against prosecutions..
In her statement to police, the girl’s mother said the child complained of pain in her lower abdomen after returning from school on Friday. The girl kept complaining sporadically, but the mother ignored it thinking it was “one of her tantrums”.
The girl began crying that night and told her mother about the alleged assault. She told her mother that a boy from her class unbuttoned her pants in the classroom and used his finger to assault her.
“She tried pushing him, but could not get away as other children had left and there was no staff around,” the mother stated in the first information report (FIR).
In the FIR, the child’s mother stated that she complained to the schoolteacher through a text message that night. She informed the school again on Saturday, but the authorities allegedly did not cooperate with her and instead asked her to give a written complaint on Monday.
Since her daughter’s pain did not subside, she rushed her to a hospital where she was treated as well as a medico-legal case made. A police case was then registered.
The mother alleged that there was no class teacher or even an ayah, or help, in either the classroom or washroom at the time of the assault.
She said her daughter’s delayed exit from the classroom, as she saw in CCTV footage, corroborated the sexual assault allegation.
Is it possible that a 4 year old child can have this kind of mind set? If not which most agree then why did he do this horrendous act?
 Children at this age have their prefrontal lobe which are not developed completely so there is no regulation to their impulses. Hence any little curiosity or stimulation make the replica the things they see or hear.
Second possibility is that since their brains are highly neuroplastic (means curious and want to try new things).The neurons in our mind tend to replicate what is present in the opposite others mind. Exposure to Visual stimulation such as pornography or intimacy in adults can lead to the child replicating the same.
Another possibility is present of an adult doing this act which is the matter of investigation.
What needs to be done as Parents?
Limiting To Exposure
Parents should be highly cautious in getting intimate in front of children. Adequate care must be taken to keep the children away from exposure to adult contents.
Early exploration
As children learn to walk and talk, they also begin to learn about their bodies. Open the door to sex education by teaching your child the proper names for his or her sex organs, perhaps during bath time.
If your child points to a body part, simply tell him or her what it is. This is also a good time to talk about which parts of the body are private.
When your child asks questions about his or her body — or yours — don't giggle, laugh or get embarrassed. Take the questions at face value, and offer direct, age-appropriate responses. If your child wants to know more, he or she will ask.
Curiosity about others
By age 3 or 4, children often realize that boys and girls have different genitals. As natural curiosity kicks in, you may find your child playing "doctor" or examining another child's sex organs.
Such exploration is far removed from adult sexual activity, and it's harmless when only young children are involved. As a family matter, however, you may want to set limits on such exploration.
Everyday moments are key
Sex education isn't a single tell-all discussion. Instead, take advantage of everyday opportunities to discuss sex.
If there's a pregnancy in the family, for example, tell your child that babies grow in a special place inside the mother. If your child wants more details on how the baby got there or how the baby will be born, provide those details.
Consider these examples:
How do babies get inside a mommy's tummy? You might say, "A mom and a dad make a baby by holding each other in a special way."
How are babies born? For some kids, it might be enough to say, "Doctors and nurses help babies who are ready to be born." If your child wants more details, you might say, "Usually a mom pushes the baby out of her vagina."
Why doesn't everyone have a penis? Try a simple explanation, such as, "Boys' bodies and girls' bodies are made differently."
Why do you have hair down there? Simplicity often works here, too. You might say, "Our bodies change as we get older." If your child wants more details, add, "Boys grow hair near their penises, and girls grow hair near their vaginas."
As your child matures and asks more-detailed questions, you can provide more-detailed responses. Answer specific questions using correct terminology.
Even if you're uncomfortable, forge ahead. Remember, you're setting the stage for open, honest discussions in the years to come.
Proper care must be taken to monitor the kids in schools so such events may be prevented in the future.
To label the child as a criminal at this tender age seems unfair but in the eyes of law a crime has been committed. The only way forwards is proper education and counselling of both parents and kids must be done to prevent such events in the future.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What goes on in the child's brain when they are addicted to mobiles ?


Recently we were having a family dinner at a popular restaurant. It was a weekend and the restaurant was fully occupied. I couldn't help noticing the young people specially kids around  us, almost zombie like staring at the glowing screens of tablets and smart phones . It is not unusual to see this sight among kids nowadays.  Not only children,you will see the addiction running down through adults also. However the effect on children has already become evident by the change in their behavior and social interactions.The full blown effect of this revolutionary technology is yet to be experienced by mankind and only future will be able to foretell.The speed with which technology has conquered the human mind which was the creator is fascinating as well as unfortunate.I will try to explain the working of the brain when using the mobile and its effects restricting to children.

Mobile addiction can be divided into parts based on the mechanism activated in the brain – gaming and  video.
In the early stage we all know that a newborn at birth has most of the brain cells that we will have for our entire life, but relatively little of the connections, circuits among the different cells. What happens very, very rapidly is that the brain is building connections, its building synapses (connections). These connections form the foundation on which newer connections are added later on. The brain is highly neuroplastic in the first few years of life and as we grow it becomes more and more difficult to change the way we think.
Hence when we give them the smart phone ,it ends up creating shortcuts in the mind rather than learning through experience and reasoning .We all agree in principle that this  is the most essential and effective way to gain knowledge and social skills. Let me give you an example when we see a particular cartoon, movie or a Sitcom, the story may have a variable impact to our mind depending on our choice of subject. The reason behind this is that whatever that has been fed in our mind is questioned by our parietal and frontal lobe (part of the brain responsible for reasoning) before it enters into our belief system. 
Also these inputs are further matched with our experiences of similar situations in our life. Hence at times some of the scenes actually evokes strong emotions while other do not .But overall this process makes our experience enjoyable or boring depending on the final outcome. With our logical reasoning we are able to restrict the experience to the movie.But for a child it may have detrimental effect on the neural pathways. Rather than experiencing the real life situation the child tends to form images and Mirror neurons (replica neural pathways –a property of our neurons) rather than going through the conventional reasoning and experience. This makes it actually easier for the mind to process.
Our neural circuits like most of the nature have a tendency to move into automation and are more at ease in the process of automation. Do not get me wrong, automation are the reasons you can drive the car or do multitasking but if formed at very early age can be damaging .our brain becomes lazy and tends to function more in automation perceived from what they see. Another important finding is that  our brain understands and stores information by forming images and the emotions related if any.Then newer experiences forms newer images and the brain tries to relate them and stores the new information and so on . By bypassing the process of reasoning and experiencing it may reduce the job of the brain for the time being but in the long run due to these weakened neural pathways, they will create improper social behavior and defective learning.The newer images will be actually reinforced on the images perceived by the sitcom or video rather than formed by the process of experience and learning.
How severe is this problem, and what could be the long-term effects? I will try to give you some idea about this.
Infants Social Interaction.
Let us try to understand what happens to the numerous synapses with which the neonate is born and how the changes take place. As with our experience the human brain changes and increase in size. This is also known as neuroplasticity. The human brain triples in size in the first 2 years of life. The voice of the mother, her touch all result in forming extensive connections in the brain and lay down the platform for social interactions in the future. But too much of screen time for children results in hampering of this important lessons of early life.The child looks for social interactions and creates images based on their experience and observations. Although they are not so accurate but they form the foundation for reinforcing them by future learning experience. Their neural pathways change and different ones are created. This greatly affects the child in future to develop deep personal bonds, their self-belief and at times their attention


Foundations for first Addiction
Advances in technology have given mankind immense powers to create, recreate and find simpler solutions to what seemed very difficult to our forefathers. This has created many things accessible which were a distant dream, a couple of decades ago. They are no more a luxury for a privileged few but a necessity for common man. Tasks which seemed to take ages to accomplish have become accessible at a click of a button. The smart phone and tablets make the kids more prone to self-doubt, impulsive and lack of control which lead to addictive behaviors. The reward circuit especially in gaming creates addictive behaviors leading to  excessive craving  and  greedy.Accomplishing seemingly difficult task at the click of a button or buying few extra lives is the lesson a child learns which he will mimic in real life situation. The way these games are designed they create enough stress for the children to be interested with easier options always accessible.
Inappropriate Behavior
If someone is obsessed with anything the moment you take it away from them they will definitely react .This does not imply only to kid but you will also see this with adults. It’s become a habit or I may say fashion whenever we see a child getting bored or having a tantrum parents tend to give them the smart phone or tablet as an act of soothing them down. Although in the  near future it may release the tension but In the long run interferes with the natural mechanism of self-regulation .These lessons are of great importance specially in future to deal with the disparity and struggle of life which everyone of us have had to face. 
Sleep Deprivation
Almost a decade ago it was a common fact that people watched television when they were sleep deprived. Although the numbers were not great but it was one of the measures to kill time if you didn’t get sleep. But now with advent of smart phones it has almost become a habit for many young adults to sleep with their smart phone or tablets. What it does that light from the screen suppresses the hormone melatonin which activates the Reticular activating system(RAS) of the mid brain giving the message to the brain that it is daytime. This affects the circadian rhythms and cause sleep deprivation. What seemed as measure to kill time when you are sleep deprived has become the cause of sleep deprivation. There are many parents who do not supervise their kids and allow them to use gadgets when they are sleeping. It is obvious that children who are sleep deprived will have trouble with their concentration and have effects on their grade
Muted Learning skills
I think most of the parents including me would agree that smart phone and tablets distract the kids and decrease their ability to focus and concentrate in their studies. Too much of visual stimulation and rapid pictorial image changes create very little time for the child to understand and analyse the situation. It needs to be remembered these are crucial years of learning and would greatly affect their sensorimotor and visual motor skills. These are important in learning maths, science or anything to do with logical reasoning and analyzing. Asking questions is the first step to learning .If everything is spoon fed then the quest to learn simply dries out.

However there are games which actually increase their attention skills but the child is inclined to learning more with motion pictures and actually finds it difficult to read a book attentively because of the defective neural pathways. It is also found that most of the video and online games also limit kids’ budding creativity and imaginations and slow their motor and optical sensory development.

Poor self Introspection

A fact that 60 to 70 per cent of our interaction is nonverbal (i.e through facial expression, eye movements, body language).All this creates a gap in learning of essential social skills. These are all fundamental to establishing human relationships. And they’re all missing with most forms of modern technology. Kids are spending so much time communicating through technology that they’re not developing basic communication skills that humans have used since forever. Communication is not just about words but also about expression and emotions. It is impossible for anyone to communicate their feelings merely by emoticons and have the same effect of one to one communication with the individual.If the communications skills are poor how does one expect to be empathetic to any one.

Susceptible to psychological trauma.

Once again poor communication skills lead to isolation and frustration for any individual. This makes the child susceptible to cyber bullying which has become a reality in today’s world. Access to too much information which is not age appropriate gives rise to curiosity in young children about their physicality and body changes. Childhood depression, anxiety attention deficit disorder are the some of the unwanted gifts  of the twenty first century which we need to protect our children from.

Obesity

Too much time spends in front of the screen leads to lack of movement and physical exercise. If Children do not play in the playground, they only end up increasing their weight. Childhood obesity is not only due to the lack of activity but also due to the isolation and lack of communication skills which leads to overeating (a sign of Depression).Obesity in childhood is a precursor for early diabetic ad high blood pressure in later years.

Pumping in aggression
Violent movies and games only end up creating aggression in the young minds. They start feeling that it is okay to be mean and aggressive in normal life. The child is too young to differentiate between the normal life and abnormal situations which they depict. The striking rise in children aggression is another issue we have to deal when raising a child in today’s world. 
On the other side more and more emphasis is given to the emotional quotient in workplace as compared to the intelligence quotient for more effective performance. This paradoxical situation makes it all the more necessary for parents to intervene and tame this technological monster.
Although because of peer pressure and hard wiring of the last few years ,the child may be initially resistant. Parents can increase the inter family communication ,starting with dinner time where gadgets need to be away from the dinner table. We need to understand that when we take the gadget away there will be a vacuum in the child's life .This needs to be filled with quality family time and a lot of patience. 
Another important step for parents who want to put an end to their children's mobile addiction is to role model them. If you cannot leave your addiction it becomes unfair to expect the kids to do so.

Although we are lucky due to the great work of a few intelligent minds we are accessible to gadgets which have increased greater convenience and colors to our lives .But it has also created these very disturbing and serious effects on our future generations. We need to act before it’s too late.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Whats the science behind loosing an argument and why some people love arguing?

You’re in a tense conversation with a friend trying to defend your position on a political leader and his policies and start to feel yourself losing ground. Your voice gets louder. You talk over one of your colleagues and correct his point of view. He pushes back, so you go into overdrive to convince everyone you’re right. It feels like an out of body experience — and in many ways it is. In terms of its neurochemistry, your brain has been hijacked.
It is a common scenario especially with high voltage political campaigns around the world. However this can happen even in a simple conversation between couples regarding the child’s future which can convert into an ugly argument.
 By definition an argument is a series of statements typically used to persuade someone of something or to present reasons for accepting a conclusion. So what goes in our brain that makes us lose the argument and the other win inspite of us knowing more relevant facts but we simply can’t win the argument. The fact that everyone believes that they are right is well known but the reason  some people win the argument has to do with changes in the brain which the other ones don’t have.
Corpus Callosum
We all know that there are two parts of the brain, the right and the left hemisphere. These hemisphere are joined by fibrous tract known as the corpus callosum .The thickness of the corpus callosum determines the cross connection between two sides of the brain. Any conversation requires the valid points to be remembered from the hippocampus (memory storage part of the brain) and the impulse is transferred to the thinking brain (Left parietal and frontal  lobe) and then to the right counterpart to form a meaningful sentence and finally to the speech center. This sounds very complicated but you can actually imagine the brain overworks when we get into an argument and hence we feel exhausted by the end of it.
 So people having thickened corpus callosum fibers tend to hasten this process and are able to come up with valid points supporting their point of view. Also they will end up remembering and speaking the right thing at the right time. Women surprisingly by birth have a thicker corpus callosum and the saying that you can never win a conversation with a woman holds true.
Stress
The other reason is stress and persons behavior which make him prone to get worked up. In situations of high stress, fear or distrust, the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol floods the brain. Executive functions that help us with advanced thought processes like strategy, trust building, and compassion shut down. And the amygdala, our emotional and reactive brain, takes over.
The body makes a chemical choice about how best to protect itself — in this case from the shame and loss of power associated with being wrong — and as a result is unable to regulate its emotions or handle the gaps between expectations and reality. So we default to one of four responses: fight (keep arguing the point), flight (revert to, and hide behind, group consensus), freeze (disengage from the argument by shutting up) or appease (make nice with your adversary by simply agreeing with him).This another reason why we end up losing the argument.
The moment we shift from logical reasoning to emotional implosion we start losing the argument. This is the area where we can work upon and can be highly effective. Going further I will try to explain why some people end up in arguing on a regular basis.
The stress created in an argument prevents the honest and productive sharing of information and opinion. But, I can tell you that the fight response is by far the most damaging to any relationships. It is also, unfortunately, the most common. That’s partly due to another neurochemical process. 

When you argue and win your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible. It’s a feeling any of us would want to replicate. So the next time we’re in a tense situation, we fight again. We get addicted to being right. So what goes on in our mind that we start losing the conversation and hence these series of cascade of neurochemicals flooding our mind.

Luckily, there’s another hormone that can feel just as good as adrenaline: oxytocin. It’s activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing. Your goal as a leader should be to spur the production of oxytocin in yourself and others, while avoiding (at least in the context of communication) those spikes of cortisol and adrenaline.

Here are a few exercises for you to do at work to help addiction to being right:
 Deciding Rules of engagement. If you’re heading into a conversation that could be a little difficult, start by outlining rules of engagement. For example, you might agree to give people extra time to explain their ideas and to listen without judgment. These practices will counteract the tendency to fall into harmful conversational patterns. Afterwards, consider see how you and the person  did and seek to do even better next time.
Empathetic listening. In one-on-one conversations, make a conscious effort to speak less and listen more. The more you learn about other peoples’ perspectives, the more likely you are to feel empathy for them. And when you do that for others, they’ll want to do it for you, creating a virtuous circle.
Speak one at a time. In situations when you know one person is likely to dominate a group, create an opportunity for everyone to speak. Ask all parties to identify who in the room has important information, perspectives, or ideas to share. List them and the areas they should speak about on a flip chart and use that as your agenda, opening the floor to different speakers, asking open-ended questions and taking notes.
 Arguments are a way of life. We live, we love, we argue, we make up. Sometimes though, arguments cause breakage - of relationships, families and people.The more we can understand about how we argue, the more deliberate we can be in responding to conflict in such a way as to preserve the relationship.





Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why Decision Making becomes decision fatigue -whats the science dude?

Take a moment to count the decisions you have made since morning. Most likely, you’ve chosen what clothes  to wear, what to have for breakfast, which route to take to work. Once at work, you took stock of pressing demands and made some decisions about which tasks to tackle first.
 If you’re a manager, you might have had to schedule and attend meetings, possibly negotiate with team members on a proposal, counsel administrative staff, prepare reports or presentations, and pitch an idea.

All before lunch...........

Additionally, because of escalating pressures and deadlines, you might have felt called upon to do the thinking for some of the people you work with, something you find both necessary and frustrating at the same time. 
When you notice that some team members respond without enthusiasm, you grow resentful. Intellectually, you know it’s important for employees to have ownership in the decisions that are being made so they will be more likely to carry them out.
But the deadline is looming, there’s no time, and it’s your job on the line.
If any of this sounds like something you experience in home with your kids or at work , it’s quite possible you’re suffering from decision fatigue.
 Neuroscience explains why we suffer this fatigue and points to what we can do to guard against it.
This happen because of the part of the brain called Prefrontal Lobe. Although it is supposed to be the newest and the most effective part of the brain, it has its own shortcomings.
 The prefrontal cortex is like the ‘goldilocks’ of the brain, because it needs to have everything just right or it doesn’t function well. This most evolved part of the brain allows people to plan ahead, make complex decisions, organize and inhibit unhelpful responses.
Amygdala  an almond shaped organ in the brain responsible for emotions and evoking the stress response(flight ,fright and freeze).Under stress, however, the prefrontal cortex can malfunction—as chemicals are unleashed, cells are prevented from communicating properly, and we find we are less able to regulate both our thoughts and our behavior.
Another area of importance is the anterior cingulate cortex(ACC). Research has found that cells in this area are active when people widen or narrow their attention — say, when they filter out distractions to concentrate on a difficult task, like listening for a voice in a noisy room.

Threats v Rewards
The primary goal of the brain is to minimize threat and maximize reward, which has implications for decision-making and problem-solving. 
When an individual or team experiences levels of threat, we know this impact on the capacity to think clearly and make good decisions. The threat response is mentally taxing and deadly to the productivity of a person or an organisation. It also impairs analytic thinking and creative insight.
On the other hand, we know that reward states are positive and support creativity and engagement, allowing people to make better assessments of risk.  Remember, however, that the brain likes everything to be just right. Too much reward can impact negatively on decision-making as our arousal increases beyond the point of optimal performance.
Think back to one of those days where you are performing a number of tasks at a high level. You might be in meetings all day having to concentrate. You might be in a training course or learning a new skill. Or you might be driving to an unfamiliar destination along a busy freeway.  All of these experiences take a large toll on your prefrontal cortex, which has limited capacity to work on ‘high alert’ during any given day. The more you use it for highly complex cognitive processing, the more quickly the ‘power’ within your brain drains.
Creative decision making usually requires both analysis and sudden out-of-the-box insight.
You may really end up toggling between the two, but I think that they are truly different brain states.At least, that is what brain-imaging studies are beginning to show. At first, such studies did little more than confirm that the process was happening as expected: brain areas that register reward spiked in activity when people came up with a solution, for instance.

Some of the suggested methods for improved decision making are

Reduce your stress levels
  High levels of stress create a lot of noise in the brain and inhibit our ability to have and hear creative insights.  Insights are the result of a very small number of distantly associated brain cells talking to each other.  To compare, deciding what to eat for breakfast involves millions of brain cells having a conversation with each other.  An insight only involves a few thousands of neurons talking to each other.  This is why we have them when our brains are quiet and activity level is low.  
 To illustrate, imagine you are hosting a party and a guest knocks at your front door, the music is blasting and you are out on your back deck enjoying conversation with other guests.  You will probably not hear the person knocking at your front door because the noise level is too high to hear the knock.  To be able to hear it, you would need to turn down the music.  It is a similar situation in our brains in that when anxiety levels go up, so does the noise level, making it very challenging to hear quiet signals coming to us from our non-conscious in the form of creative ideas.  The key is to keep yourself and others around you in a positive mood where anxiety and noise levels are low. 
Reboot your mind set 
An impasse is a block  or a dead lock in the thought process which does not seem to have a resolution.To overcome an impasse we have to experience a shift in perspective – a break in our mental set.  It is our natural tendency to project interpretations on to situations based on our past experiences.  Unfortunately, this hinders our ability to see a different perspective.  To illustrate this, let’s practice right now.
Say for instance you take A route for work every day .Imagine that you are  considering route B for tomorrow, write down the reasons you come up for taking up route A and not route B .Inspite of the valid reasons take route B the next day of course taking in consideration you do not get late for work. When you reach your office note down how many of the reasons were really valid and did you experience any anxiety or fear while taking route B. One of the biggest obstacles to breaking a mental set is analytic thinking, also known as rational thinking. Focusing on the problem and putting effort into finding the solution does not create the mental state conducive to having an insight. 
 Engaging in analysis with our rational brain constrains our ability to creatively solve an insight problem by further cementing a particular perspective or mental set and thus leading to hap hazard decisions.  This often disrupts the ability to see different perspectives. 
 Consider the discovery of the sticky note.  The glue that didn’t stick so well and seemed to have no value at all was considered a problem until someone broke their mental set and realized that a glue that didn’t stick that well could actually be a good thing.
Reconsider  
Sometimes if we want to experience creative solutions, we have to reconsider so that we can see the bigger picture.  A metaphor to illustrate this is seeing the forest instead of focusing on the trees.  Studies show that people are more able to make better decisions if they visualize or imagine themselves in the future solving their problem.   This promotes a form of reconsidering which results in the production of creative ideas. 

At this point we have strong circumstantial evidence that this resting state predicts how you make decisions later on and that it may in fact vary by individual. 

So if you try to make a decision after seeing a comedy movie the probability that the results will be favorable compared after seeing a horror or  an intense movie.


The punch line is that a good joke can move the brain toward just this kind of state. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Early childhood brain development-Whats The science dude?

                    Radha was a software engineer and a perfectionist. She was  highly proficient  in her work and was appreciated by everyone with her problem solving skills and her dedication.She was very particular about any project she undertook. She would research the project in length and then after analyzing it, would give the appropriate solutions. She was working from home since the last 4 months as it was mutually decided  by the couple that she was not going to take stress .She was 6 months pregnant and was taking good care of her physical as well as mental health. She planned to get back to work after 3 months of pregnancy and she goes to the doctor to find out how she should manage the child after delivery  and get to work without having any negative effects on the child. She was confused as schooling starts after 3 years and wanted to know how she can nurture her child's early days.This is a very common dilemma of  majority of the working woman .The early childhood years are a period of rapid change in the brain. During early and middle childhood, the brain forms and refines a complex network of connections in the brain through synaptogenesis, pruning, and myelination.
 A child’s brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to three years—producing more than a million neural connections each second.
There has been an explosion of research over the past decade that shows how important the first few years of a child’s life are in terms of brain development. 

A newborn at birth has most of the brain cells that we will have for our entire life, but relatively little of the connections, the circuits among the different cells. What happens very, very rapidly is that the brain is building connections, it’s building synapses(connections).  A baby forms 700 new neural connections per second in the first years of life. This process of building the architecture of the brain is dramatically influence by life experiences. It is not genetically hardwired. Literally our environment shapes the architecture of our brain in the first year of life. This we term as neuroplasticity. 
The process of forming connections is biologically driven, but experiences also promote synapse formation. The brain produces many more synapses than it will ultimately use. Researchers describe this process as synaptic overproduction. This rapid synapse formation continues throughout early childhood.The process of myelination(covering of nerve fibres with myelin sheath so can process impulses faster) also continues during early childhood and is the major cause of the increase in a child's brain size.  In the first four years of life, the brain increases to 80% of its adult weight of 2.6 - 3.3 pounds (1200-1500 grams).
Pruning(eliminating unused nerve fibres) is a key process that shapes the brains of young children. Synaptic overproduction causes synapses to develop extremely rapidly. The pruning process refines these connections based on experience. Connections used regularly become stronger and more complex. Connections not used are considered non-essential, and the brain eventually prunes them away to increase efficiency.

As an example, an infant's brain has connections that allow her to hear sounds from all languages in the world. During the early years, the brain strengthens connections for sounds in the languages she hears regularly. Over time, the brain eliminates the connections for other sounds. This is why most adults have trouble distinguishing sounds that are not in our language.An infant's brain is dependent on responsiveness from adults. So all those adorable things that babies do right from the beginning -- coos, gurgles, sounds and smiles -- how an adult responds to those coos and gurgles help shape the brain circuitry. The first sound that a n newborn hears is the mothers voice which is the only familiar voice it hears on birth. This is the probable reason in adulthood when we hear our mothers voice it has a calming effect because of the strong connection.
The baby does something, the adult responds back. Vice versa. And it's the back and forth, the responsiveness, that shapes the brain circuits. We begin to see differences in the size of a child’s vocabulary as early as 18-24 months."These differences are not genetically hardwired. They're based in the differences in the kind of language environment and interactions the child grows up in.

Some of the core principles on which foundation of  brain development rest are
1.   Human development is shaped by a dynamic and continuous interaction between change in structure and experience.
2. Culture influences every aspect of human development and is reflected in child rearing beliefs and practices designed to promote healthy adaptation.
 3. The growth of self-regulation is a cornerstone of early childhood development that cuts across all domains of behavior.
4. Children are active participants in their own development, reflecting the intrinsic human drive to explore and master one's environment.
5. Human relationships, and the effects of relationships on relationships, are the building blocks of healthy development.
6. The broad range of individual differences among young children often makes it difficult to distinguish normal variations and maturational delays from transient disorders and persistent impairments.
7. The development of children unfolds along individual pathways whose trajectories are characterized by continuities and discontinuities, as well as by a series of significant transitions.
8. Human development is shaped by the ongoing interplay among sources of vulnerability and sources of resilience.
9. The timing of early experiences can matter, but, more often than not, the developing child remains vulnerable to risks and open to protective influences throughout the early years of life and into adulthood. 
10. The course of development can be altered in early childhood by effective interventions that change the balance between risk and protection, thereby shifting the odds in favor of more adaptive outcomes.
Early intervention is the most promising strategy to build the nation and form a compassionate and peaceful society  and is the need of the hour.
Radha left the doctors clinic with a firm resolution to dedicate as much as time possible and spending time with her to-be-born child at least for the first two years . 
“Nothing that happens early childhood is going to make a difference .”is not an acceptable statement after  findings of  scientific research on neuroplasticity and early childhood. 

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