Archive for the 'How the Brain influences our lives' Category

Feb 22 2015

Sandra Bland’s Arrest = the clash of two human being’s implicit memory systems.

Implicit memory is a type of long term memory which has an unconscious influence on the way we think, feel and behave. In a stressful situation, our implicit memory systems kick in and we react in a “same pattern over and over way.” For Sandra, an educated woman sensitized to systemic brutality of African Americans, she was upset by what she experienced as a unnecessary police stop and the lack of courtesy and professionalism (already determined by authorities) of the policeman. For the policeman, I can only speculate, he experienced some type of victimization himself early in his life that caused him to react so harshly. The policeman clearly becomes emotionally hijacked, meaning he is adrenalized, his thinking slowed down, and he is reacting automatically (unconsciously) to his mistaken view Sandra is a threat to him. Maybe an earlier trauma, abuse by someone in authority, taunting by bullies, or some other victimization is related to his unprofessional treatment of Sandra.

For more information on implicit memory, watch this video.

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Nov 23 2011

Dogs, painful electric shocks, and explanatory style: What does the research tell us about feeling discouraged and helpless? (Part 1)

It’s pretty simple. The research shows us that when people feel discouraged and helpless, they are more likely to become depressed. There are several landmark studies conducted by Martin Seligman and Steven Maier describing the phenomenon of learned helplessness using dogs and the effect of exposing the dogs to unpleasant electrical shocks while in a harness.
Ouch! While it does seem unpleasant to expose dogs to electric shocks,

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Nov 20 2011

Damage of Secrets: Research Shows Secrets Clang (my word) Around Inside Our Brains

How do you spell relief? D-I-S-C-L-O-S-U-R-E

Therapists and clients alike understand the relief provided by the disclosure of sad, angry, fearful memories. Therapy is a place where people should feel safe enough to disclose anything they choose, significant or insignificant.

In dysfunctional families or organizations, people are often exposed to behavior which shocks
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Nov 19 2011

Yes, Rage And Fear Are Automatic Responses Triggered By The Sympathetic Nervous System

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for triggering the “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction in human beings.

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Nov 13 2011

Penn State and the Catholic Church

Examining the religious right wing activism defending catholic clergy sex abusers and the response of the church, it’s pretty easy to understand why Joe Paterno didn’t do anything to protect the children being raped by Jerry Sandusky.

He’s Joe Paterno and probably feels entitled to do whatever he wants, just like Bill Donohue, Bishop Finn of Kansas City, the catholic pope, and the entire catholic church hierarchy.
Bill Donohue, Executive Director of Catholic League Center for Religious and Civil Rights,

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Jan 20 2011

Freud’s Certainty, then Doubt in Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse: Recovered Memory Series

One only needs to examine the work of Freud to see the origins of the recovered memory debate.In 1896, Freud wrote of a pattern of sexual abuse of women in eighteen consecutive cases.

Robert Dewey quotes Freud in his “Introduction to Psychology”:

“The event of which the subject has retained an unconscious memory is a precocious [unusually early] experience of sexual relations with actual excitement of the genitals,

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Jan 20 2011

Memory Wars: Exploring the Science in the Recovered Memory Debate

Recovered memories refers to the phenomenon of human beings forgetting aspects of their personal history, then remembering it later, often decades later.

Although therapists have witnessed recovered memories of their clients in the sanctity of the therapist room, mistakes made by overzealous therapists, law enforcement officers and others evaluating possible abuse gave rise to research and legal advocacy efforts to cast doubt on the reliability of recovered memories.

The debate about the reliability of recovered memories became known as “the memory wars.”

I am dedicating the next series of posts to an exploration of this debate. There are many prominent researchers who you will hear about, especially Elizabeth Loftus, Bessel Van der Kolk, Jim Hopper, Ken Pope, Richard McNally, Ross Chiet among others, along with the “talking points” of the skeptics and deniers of recovered memory.
To start off, we need to understand the culture giving rise to this debate.

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Nov 29 2010

Communication

We all make many, many mistakes in the way we communicate.

Unless these mistakes are corrected, we can go through life fighting all the time,or avoiding and ignoring each other.

Either way, it can be pretty unpleasant.

In the next series of posts,  I will begin to explain all the
mistakes we make so anyone who is willing to spend a few minutes each
week can become more knowledgeable and effective in helping their
relationship be a little warmer, friendly and fun.


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Jul 21 2010

Amygdala: How Our Brain Processes and Stores Emotional Memory

The amygdala is the part of our brain’s limbic system responsible for the processing and memory of emotional reactions and triggering the fight, fight, or freeze process for human beings.

In the image below, the amygdala (dark red color) can be seen as part of the limbic system, just below the thalamus (also dark red).

The amygdala has been called the “emotional sentinel” of the human brain because it is primarily responsible for helping us to know when it is safe and unsafe.

The amygdala receives signals from our senses which it quickly evaluates. If the signal is safe, all is good.  However, if the amygdala determines the signal to be a threat, it sends a message to the hypthalamus to produce dopamine, epinephrine and norepenephrine which provide the chemical fuel for us to fight, flee or freeze.

The studies related to the amygdala have demonstrated that damage to the amygdala or negative personal experiences can result in such things as an inability to determine safe or unsafe facial expressions, hyperarousal, exaggerated fear responses or absence of fear responses.

So, if you grew up in an abusive, dangerous household, it is likely your amygdala has processed and stored those memories in a way which may keep you hyperaroused and unsure about the intentions of your partner.

Any tension or conflict with your spouse may easily result in a yelling match leaving you both depleted and demoralized.

Biology mixes with personal history, with disastrous results for personal and intimate relationships.

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Nov 24 2009

The Role of Mirror Neurons in Empathy, Mind Reading, and Language Learning

Read an absolutely fascinating (if you’re interested in mirror neurons! 🙂 article about the importance of mirror neurons.

Read the article here.

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