Brain Development and BrainBugs – Teaching Your Team to Bring Your Brain

How the Brain develops and functions is an important consideration in leading and  managing in education, business and non-profit organizations. A recent broadcast on NPR from Fresh Air from WHYY interviewing concerning new book, Welcome to Your Child’s Brain by neuroscientists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang. “It took scientists a long time to realize that their brains are doing some very complicated things” says Aamodt. Their research helps explain how the human brain develops from infancy to adolescence. As adults teaching and educating children and adolescents when we consider the developmental stage of the brain we are better able to teach and mentor and accomplish our educational goals. Further, when mentoring and teaching adults in business or on our teams, when we address the brain and how it has developed and how it works, we are more effective at communicating and achieving our business and organizational goals and objectives. Team leadership in today’s business and corporate world, educational institutions and non-profit organizations requires a collaborative and norms oriented approach. Positive reinforcement has been demonstrated to produce better and longer lasting results.

Dr. Wang: “Negative reinforcement is often not very effective with deterring behavior. … negative reinforcement punishment tends to not be very general. So the child will avoid doing the specific thing that led to the punishment and not learn some broader rule. From a practical standpoint, negative reinforcement is not terribly effective.”

Read more about this article on NPR.

Another recent broadcast entitled ‘Brain Bugs’: Cognitive Flaws That ‘Shape Our Lives’from Fresh Air on WHYY on NPR examined some of the functional and behavioral aspects on why and how our brains function. The infant brain, for example, recognizes facial symmetries and patterns early giving the infant the ability to identify and remember people.

BrainBugs by Dean Buonomano
Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives By Dean Buonomano Hardcover, 310 pages W.W. Norton & Co.

How do we remember things? One example of brain function and memory that may make you smile is to see if you can recall what letter is to the left of the E on a keyboard. As I write this article, I am using these letters without actually recalling the specific order but my fingers fly over the keys at over 100 words per minute. In keynote speeches, humorous examples and scenarios help us better understand the point. Humor is also addressed in this broadcast as follows:

But what does humor tell us about how the brain works? It reveals two fundamental points about human memory and cognition, both of which can also be demonstrated unhumorously in the following manner:

Answer the first two questions below out loud, and then blurt out the first thing that pops into your mind in response to sentence 3:

1. What continent is Kenya in?

2. What are the two opposing colors in the game of chess?

3. Name any animal.

Roughly 20 percent of people answer “zebra” to sentence 3, and about 50 percent respond with an animal from Africa. But, when asked to name an animal out of the blue, less than 1 percent of people will answer “zebra.” In other words, by directing your attention to Africa and the colors black and white, it is possible to manipulate your answer. As with comedy routines, this example offers two crucial insights about memory and the human mind that will be recurring themes in this book. First, knowledge is stored in an associative manner: related concepts (zebra/Africa, kilometers/miles) are linked to each other. Second, thinking of one concept somehow “spreads” to other related concepts, making them more likely to be recalled. Together, both these facts explain why thinking of Africa makes it more likely that “zebra” will pop into mind if you are next asked to think of any animal. This unconscious and automatic phenomenon is known as priming. And as one psychologist has put it “priming affects everything we do from the time we wake up until the time we go back to sleep; even then it may affect our dreams.”

When you engage Dr. Estes for your keynote speech, you will find that she engages the brain, humor, knowledge and experience to help your team work more effectively together, identify and achieve goals and objectives and have fun while doing it. Prime the brains, prime your team for performance and enable your management team to lead others more effectively through training and workshops that are engaging and effective.

Bring Your Own Brain, one of Dr. Estes presentations teaches your team how to engage the brain in presentations and helps them understand how the brain works.

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