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Transitions Week 2. The Course is exploration of the mind and the brain as related to your transition to life as a full time student It is an introduction to which brain states underlie confidence as a student, more focus, attention, less stress etc. Recap.

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The Course is exploration of the mind and the brain as related to your transition to life as a full time student

It is an introduction to which brain states underlie confidence as a student, more focus, attention, less stress etc

So we will look at how you can use your mind to stimulate your brain to strengthen these brain states.

It has a number of elements starting with greater self-reflection and self-awareness, then on to attention, self-talk, focus…

change vs transition
Changeis a

shiftin the external situation

Transition is the

psychological reorientation – working with the mind -

in response to change

Change vs. Transition
moderators factors that influence impact of a stressor
Personality & current state of person
  • Coping styles and strategies (including appraisal)
  • Control: unpredictable events; ambiguous tasks
  • Social Support
Moderators: Factors that influence impact of a “stressor”
we are going to start with the person
Personality & current state of person

A new chapter in the life story:

Two questions for Weeks 1 and 2 :

What has led up to this moment

How has it formed your mind – your normal style in dealing with challenges, new directions…

We are going to start with the person
the mind our attitudes etc are rooted in our brain
Personality & current state of person

First Key Guiding Principle:

The Mind uses the brain to create itself

Plasticity: The ability of the brain to continually change during our lifetime as a result of experience.

The mind (our attitudes ) etc are rooted in our brain
Personality & current state of person

Donald Hebb: “When neurons FIRE t0gether, they WIRE together

= mental activity creates new brain structures.

Personality & current state of person

So even fleeting experiences , even in this past week, can leave lasting marks on your brain

We saw this in the video of the baby , the Still Face Experiment

A baby can't develop an orbitofrontal cortex on his or her own.

it affects the structure of the brain
Personality & current state of person

We saw this in the case of Genie, a little girl kept in one room by her parents for the first 13 years of her life and other children who are suffered privation:

Smaller brain size

It affects the structure of the brain
The early years of life matter because early experiences affect the architecture of the maturing brain.

As it emerges, the quality of that architecture establishes a foundation for all of the development and behaviour that follows

Brain structure

our three brains
My cat lounges on the chair after breakfast, stretching himself to his full extent with evident pleasure.

But if a dog should come past, the cat would defend his own 'being' : run away and hide, or, if cornered, would hiss and snarl with his fur up to frighten off the dog.

our three brains1
Or if he gets hungry and needs more energy supplies, he would make sure to keep his 'being' going by pursuing a mouse or vole.

He may not have self-consciousness or verbal communication, but he has a range of basic feelings and reactions which prompt his behaviour and ensure his survival.

our three brains2
This is where human beings start too. We share with other mammals a core brain which ensures survival.

A baby has a basic version of these systems in place: a functioning nervous system which enables it to breathe, a visual system which allows it to track the movements around him, a core consciousness based in the brainstem which reacts to sensory experiences and assesses them in terms of survival.

our three brains3
The 'oldest' structures in evolutionary terms, such as the brainstem and sensorimotor cortex, are the parts of the brain which are most active in the newborn.

So defense, pulling away, creating separateness – is one basic strategy of the brain

our three brains4
When you are awake and not doing anything in particular, the baseline resting state of your brain has a default running speed and one of its functions is to track the environment for possible threats.

This basic awareness is often accompanied by a background feeling of anxiety that keep you vigilent.

Have a guess

Which are detected quicker: Fearful faces or happy faces


Fearful faces

Even register sub consciously (Jiang and He, 2006)

The Brain is drawn to bad news

Negative stuff is stored stronger, faster, deeper

our three brains5
It is easy to get down from a few failures

But hard to undo those feelings, even with many successes

(Seligman 2006)

In relationships takes about 5 positive interactions to overcome the effect of one negative one (Gottman 1995)

our three brains6
These settle down into emotions:

Emotions are first and foremost our guides to action:

They are about going towards things or going away from them.

Not surprising that the fear and self-defence system based in the amygdala is one of the first parts of the emotional brain to mature.

our three brains7
Not surprising that the fear and self-defence system based in the amygdala is one of the first parts of the emotional brain to mature.Ourthreebrains
our three brains8
As the emotional brain developed, and we became more emotionally complex and sophisticated, more alternatives and choices arose in our interactions with others.

This then required a capacity to think and reflect on our emotions, and thus led to the development of the cortex, and in particular, the prefrontal cortex.

our three brains10
The orbitofrontal cortex plays a key role in emotional life.

Through studying what happens when this part of the brain is damaged, neuroscientists have put together a picture of its functions. People with brain damage that affects the orbitofrontal area can't relate to others sensitively.

the brain changes
The brain grows in size and complexity in response to the quantity and quality of the experiences its owner is subjected to throughout their lives, particularly in their youth. The Brain changes
the brain changes1
Neurons are the basic blocks of everyday experience

Release chemincals like seratonn and dopamine.

Repeated Patterns of activity in the neurons in the brain become like structures

The Brain changes
a simple example
When you are on Facebook and get a mail, dopamine is released in the brain.

Dopamine is connected to mood, motivation feel-good

It gets released by pleasurable activities, including video game playing, or surfing.

Ist the brain reward circuit that is released when some parts of the brain are stimulated

A simple example
a simple example1
But dopamine also plays a major role in the cycle of addiction: becomes a habit or strengthens that part of the brain

It keeps the brain switched on

Interactive gadgets can trick the brain into a persistent sense of emergency by setting off scanning for danger system in the brain

A simple example
the brain changes2
The most frequent and repetitive experiences start to form well-trodden pathways, whilst those connections that lie unused begin to be pruned away.

This is the working shape of the brain.

The Brain changes
Personality & current state of person

Two critical periods:

Childhood forms

Changes as we make choices in adulthood

We are looking at what formed us, to get to know them

Why? Because only a small fraction of the inputs that are working in the brain come directly from the external world.

The rest come from internal memory stores and perceptual processing modules

You brain is continually creating the world, partly on the basis of experiences to date.

The brain is an 'anticipation machine' (Siegel 1999). It is designed to help us navigate our way, providing expectations of likely outcomes and holding knowledge of our environment.

Based on the images we form of a prototype episode: for example, how the other person's face looked, how I feel in my body when they do that thing.

2: Written Assignment : Present in class next week:

The Story of my Life 2: a LifeStory Interview

3: Reading: BrainRules Chapter 2 and 3