Oh, That Brain: It Doesn’t Have A (Complete) Mind of Its Own…

You Are in Control of Your Brain

Sometimes when you make a sudden decision, or feel you are doing something without much thought, you might feel that the brain has a mind of its own.

Well, it kind of does. The brain has collected your past decisions, so you don’t have to overthink, a process called conditioning.

But when it comes to the brain, that’s a simplicity that ends there. You have the power of breaking patterns of behavior and changing your focus.

The brain likes to do things to ensure it keeps going. It’s not specifically interested in the intricacies of what you do. So it may be used to following preconditioned patterns. But some patterns, such as certain behaviors, can hurt you.

But the brain’s ways can be changed, by what scientists call its durability and neuroplasticity, and you have an impact on what you do. You can change your brain’s behavior – and train it, researchers say.

How the Brain Works

Scientists note that different regions of the brain often work on their own, relying on neurons inside that region to do the work. At other times, the regions must cooperate. Each region of the brain contains millions of neurons.

With separate networks in the brain, one area may determine the risk versus reward of individual choices, and another may guidehow you actually behave.

Cognitive Control

It’s cognitive control within the brain that keeps you on track despite distractions, scientists say. “Cognitive control and value-based decision-making tasks appear to depend on different brain regions within the prefrontal cortex,” said Jan Glascher, lead author of the study at the California Institute of Technology at Pasadena, according to Time.

You Guide the Way

You should direct your mind to focus on what you want rather than repeating past mistakes, and that can help you make better decisions.

Break Bad Habits

That’s why it’s important to examine your decision-making process. That could be a key to breaking bad habits or addiction.

“Understanding the neuroscience behind making a decision can be helpful when targeting new behaviors and changing bad habits,” says Psychology Today. “Decision-making is in the locus of your control. You have the power to break patterns of behavior simply by making better decisions.”

Changes in behavior and attitudes can be a powerful way to make your thinking go on a different course.

“Unfortunately, the brain’s responses follow preconditioned patterns regardless if they are good or bad habits, so not all of its functions are serving you for the maximum growth,” according to Psychology Today. “The untrained brain is focused survival, not creativity. This means your brain may continue to repeat old patterns of decision-making to keep you in your comfort zone rather than help you reach your full potential.”

Don’t Over Do!

And yes, the brain gets tired.

“The brain works like a muscle: when depleted, it becomes less effective,” says Time.  “We should take this knowledge into account when making decisions.”

For instance, if we spent a lot of time focusing on a task, exercising self-control, or many choices, you probably shouldn’t make significant decision then, the article states.

Think of Other Parts of Your Body

And maybe don’t over rely on your brain; think about the connections to your body and environment, says Alan Jasanoff, professor of biological engineering at MIT and author of The Biological Mind.

 

“If we want to solve our problems, we shouldn’t reduce them to problems of the brain,” Jasanoff says in an interview with National Geographic.

He adds: “We need to keep a broad view, which recognizes how the brain is connected both to the body and to the environment; and look for solutions wherever they happen to lie.”

“Explaining human behavior in terms of brain function alone stems from a kind of mystical view of the brain and keeps us from advancing in a way that science can encourage us.”

 

REFERENCES:

 

Debra Maldonado, CEO Creative Mind Media, Inc. online. 2018. Want to Make A Better Decision? Start By Understanding Your Brain. Here’s How: Retrieved from: https://www.inc.com/debra-maldonado/want-to-make-better-decisions-start-by-understanding-your-brain-heres-how.html

 

Christopher Bergland. Psychology Today. 2018. The Neuroscience of Making a Decision. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201505/the-neuroscience-making-decision

 

Mark Humphries. Medium. How Your Brain Decides What You Are Seeing. 2017. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/s/theories-of-mind/how-your-brain-decides-what-youre-seeing-b9729670ec6d

 

Maia Szalavitz. Time. Making Choices: How Your Brain Decides. 2012. Retrieved from: http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/04/making-choices-how-your-brain-decides/

 

On Amir. Scientific American. How Making Tough Choices Tires Your Brain. 2008. Retrieved from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tough-choices-how-making/

 

Simon Worrall. Book Talk. National Geographic. 2018. Retrieved from: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/why-the-brain-body-connection-is-more-important-than-we-think/

 

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