Thursday, June 26, 2008

another chance!

Monday, June 09, 2008


growing up fast

just for kicks!

a little movie featuring my little man

Mirror Neurons

The piece below is by Daniel Goleman ( Author of EQ), I found it on Jason Graham-Nye's gdiaper blog. I agree with Jason, it is thought provoking. He said he read it to his team at gHq. I find it especially interesting because hubby and I were just discussing the chaos that a bit of teething has produced in our household this month. (and by a bit, I should mention the lil' guy is growing no less than four new teeth on the top and possibly a few on bottomm  ~ poor kid)  
I've noticed with our 10 yo daughter that any time I am needing a bit of space.. feeling a bit crowded or at my wits end... she crowds me more because it is at these times that she needs me more.  This has been our way since she came into this world.  Perhaps this is simply and example of our mirror neurons at work...   

Mirror Neurons

There’s a class of brain cells called “mirror neurons”, which act as a neural Wi-Fi, attuning to the other person’s internal state moment to moment and recreating that state in our own brain—their emotions, their movements, their intentions.

Mirror neurons offer a neural mechanism that explains emotional contagion, the tendency of one person to catch the feelings of another, particularly if strongly expressed. This brain-to-brain link may also account for feelings of rapport, which research finds depend in part on extremely rapid synchronization of people’s posture, vocal pacing and movements as they interact. In short, these brain cells seem to allow the interpersonal orchestration of shifts in physiology.

In the last few years researchers have discovered the social brain, the circuitry that connects us intimately in every human encounter we have. This can be for better or for worse, of course. For instance, we can pick up toxic emotions by witnessing violence, something like the emotional equivalent of secondhand smoke. Or we can radiate peacefulness to the people we meet. We’re all part of an invisible emotional economy, a give-and-take of feelings that transpires no matter what else we do in an encounter.

Because of mirror neurons, tuning into our internal feelings gives us a mix of our own responses and what we pick up from the other. So the challenge is to distinguish between what comes from the other person. The dilemma is that the social brain continually makes emotions contagious, which means our empathy also makes us vulnerable to catching distress.

Before we realized that brains interconnect so much, it seemed that how someone does at work has little or nothing to do with how that person’s boss treats them—that it’s entirely up to the person alone. But the social brain’s interconnectivity means that to some degree the boss’s brain is looped into that person’s brain. And so a leader’s responsibility includes helping that person get into and stay in an internal state where he can do his best work. It’s also a teacher’s responsibility with a student, because there is a strong relationship between maximal cognitive efficiency and a person’s emotional state. When people are in an alert, motivated, and engaged state, the brain operates at peak efficiency. In fact when they’re joyous, they’re even more efficient.

If a teacher just angrily scolds a student and expects that student to learn better, he’s basically undermining his own efforts as a teacher. Or if a boss puts someone down or humiliates them, that threatens and undermines the person’s ability to be at their best. So the boss or teacher has to understand that they’re partly responsible for the other person’s very brain state and subsequent inability to do better.

The emotional status of our main relationships also has a significant impact on our overall pattern of cardiovascular and neuron-endocrine activity. This radically expands the scope of biology and neuroscience from focusing on a single body or brain to looking at the interplay between two at a time. In short, my hostility bumps up your blood pressure, your nurturing love lowers mine. Potentially, we are each other’s biological enemies or allies.

There is also a power factor: emotions are most contagious from the most powerful person in a group outward. One study shows that people ruminate about negative statements from their boss far more than they remember positive ones. Which means that a small dose of negative feedback gets magnified in your own mind, and can have great power because something coming from this powerful person in your life is amplified emotionally.

People need to be very skillful when giving performance feedback and not be overly harsh. Otherwise all you’re doing is arousing the brain’s centers for anxiety, undermining the very ability to perform well.

Compiled from an article in the New York Times (Oct. 10, 2006) and an interview in Tricycle, Winter 2006