Saturday, September 02, 2006
Brain Sculpting: Optimism & Pessimism
By Whats Shakin'
In his book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., tells of the potential loss of important neuronal connections:
"The human brain is by no means fully formed at birth . . . Children are born with many more neurons than their mature brains retain; through a process called "pruning" the brain actually loses the neuronal connections that are less used, and forms strong connections in those synaptic circuits that have been utilized the most . . . This process is constant and quick; synaptic connections can form in a matter of hours or days. Experience, particularly in childhood, sculpts the brain."
I started hearing a murmur about brain wiring in the mid 1990’s. There are numerous examples equating the workings of the brain to electricity from the late 1800’s onward. This equation has multiplied with the development of the Internet. But that is for another Blog someday.
What interests me is that use is the determining factor in brain growth. We may sculpt our bodies through exercise so it should not come to any surprise that we may sculpt our minds by applying our attention to various interests. The mind is influenced by the stimuli in the world around it. The so-called wiring responds to stimulus by becoming stronger in particular portions of the brain that are influenced by that stimulus. For example, there are separate areas in the brain for optimistic and pessimistic emotions.
I don’t have any particular bias about either optimism or pessimism. If I have any bias it is for balance. A certain amount of pessimism is healthy unless the result is the loss of hope. Personally I find optimism more pleasing, too much so in the sense of the three monkeys. There is a middle way between seeing no evil and seeing no hope.