First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

How much do you know about your brain?


This not a trick question.

In recent years, I have read a number of books based on wide and deep research that have helped me to gain a much better understanding of whatever it is between my two ears.

Here are the key points that are of greatest interest to me:

1. The brain is a muscle and therefore requires frequent and rigorous exercise, exercise that is both mental and physical.

Note: The eyes are also muscles and can be strengthened by daily exercises that — over time — will substantially increase reading speed, comprehension, and retention. That’s a subject for another blog post.

2. It is comprised of three regions, each of which evolved separately but they function together interdependently as networked biological computers in constant communication. Each has its own purposes, intelligence, and programmed subjectivity.

3. The first is the brain stem sitting atop the spinal cord, the so-called “lizard brain,” which controls feeding, fighting, fleeing, and fooling around (the “Four Fs”).

4. The second is the neocortex, or “rational brain,” the region we think we think with. It organizes, categorizes, strategizes, and performs a host of other analytical and conceptual functions.

5. The third region, the limbic system, or “emotional brain,” evaluates the reward potential of judgment calls, and processes information 80,000 time s faster than the neocortex. Many have characterized it as a “prediction machine.” It is wired to select a choice with the highest probable return.

6. Something called the amygdala is key to the limbic operating system. It consists of two bundles of neurons about the size and shape of an almond. These “bundles,” although idling in neutral, are ever ready to be fast sprung by one of two possibilities: “This will help me” or “This will hurt me.”

7. The Amygadala is so important because it determines which neurochemicals the brain releases in response to either of the two contingencies.

8. Various chemicals (e.g. oxytocin , serotin, and dopamine) vary in nature and impact but, together, enable the brain to become programmed for survival that, in turns, requires making the decisions to ensure that.

What about the mind?

Most experts explain that it is “what the brain does.”

SUGGESTED READINGS

Brain Rules
: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

John Medina

How We Decide

Jonah Lehrer

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

John J. Ratey

Think Better
: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking

Tim Hurson

A User’s Guide to the Brain
: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain

John J. Ratey

If you are feeling frisky and really want to put some white caps on your gray matter, check out Gerald M. Edelman’s Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On The Matter of The Mind.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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