Saturday, July 22, 2017

What goes on in the child's brain when they are addicted to mobiles ?


Recently we were having a family dinner at a popular restaurant. It was a weekend and the restaurant was fully occupied. I couldn't help noticing the young people specially kids around  us, almost zombie like staring at the glowing screens of tablets and smart phones . It is not unusual to see this sight among kids nowadays.  Not only children,you will see the addiction running down through adults also. However the effect on children has already become evident by the change in their behavior and social interactions.The full blown effect of this revolutionary technology is yet to be experienced by mankind and only future will be able to foretell.The speed with which technology has conquered the human mind which was the creator is fascinating as well as unfortunate.I will try to explain the working of the brain when using the mobile and its effects restricting to children.

Mobile addiction can be divided into parts based on the mechanism activated in the brain – gaming and  video.
In the early stage we all know that a newborn at birth has most of the brain cells that we will have for our entire life, but relatively little of the connections, circuits among the different cells. What happens very, very rapidly is that the brain is building connections, its building synapses (connections). These connections form the foundation on which newer connections are added later on. The brain is highly neuroplastic in the first few years of life and as we grow it becomes more and more difficult to change the way we think.
Hence when we give them the smart phone ,it ends up creating shortcuts in the mind rather than learning through experience and reasoning .We all agree in principle that this  is the most essential and effective way to gain knowledge and social skills. Let me give you an example when we see a particular cartoon, movie or a Sitcom, the story may have a variable impact to our mind depending on our choice of subject. The reason behind this is that whatever that has been fed in our mind is questioned by our parietal and frontal lobe (part of the brain responsible for reasoning) before it enters into our belief system. 
Also these inputs are further matched with our experiences of similar situations in our life. Hence at times some of the scenes actually evokes strong emotions while other do not .But overall this process makes our experience enjoyable or boring depending on the final outcome. With our logical reasoning we are able to restrict the experience to the movie.But for a child it may have detrimental effect on the neural pathways. Rather than experiencing the real life situation the child tends to form images and Mirror neurons (replica neural pathways –a property of our neurons) rather than going through the conventional reasoning and experience. This makes it actually easier for the mind to process.
Our neural circuits like most of the nature have a tendency to move into automation and are more at ease in the process of automation. Do not get me wrong, automation are the reasons you can drive the car or do multitasking but if formed at very early age can be damaging .our brain becomes lazy and tends to function more in automation perceived from what they see. Another important finding is that  our brain understands and stores information by forming images and the emotions related if any.Then newer experiences forms newer images and the brain tries to relate them and stores the new information and so on . By bypassing the process of reasoning and experiencing it may reduce the job of the brain for the time being but in the long run due to these weakened neural pathways, they will create improper social behavior and defective learning.The newer images will be actually reinforced on the images perceived by the sitcom or video rather than formed by the process of experience and learning.
How severe is this problem, and what could be the long-term effects? I will try to give you some idea about this.
Infants Social Interaction.
Let us try to understand what happens to the numerous synapses with which the neonate is born and how the changes take place. As with our experience the human brain changes and increase in size. This is also known as neuroplasticity. The human brain triples in size in the first 2 years of life. The voice of the mother, her touch all result in forming extensive connections in the brain and lay down the platform for social interactions in the future. But too much of screen time for children results in hampering of this important lessons of early life.The child looks for social interactions and creates images based on their experience and observations. Although they are not so accurate but they form the foundation for reinforcing them by future learning experience. Their neural pathways change and different ones are created. This greatly affects the child in future to develop deep personal bonds, their self-belief and at times their attention


Foundations for first Addiction
Advances in technology have given mankind immense powers to create, recreate and find simpler solutions to what seemed very difficult to our forefathers. This has created many things accessible which were a distant dream, a couple of decades ago. They are no more a luxury for a privileged few but a necessity for common man. Tasks which seemed to take ages to accomplish have become accessible at a click of a button. The smart phone and tablets make the kids more prone to self-doubt, impulsive and lack of control which lead to addictive behaviors. The reward circuit especially in gaming creates addictive behaviors leading to  excessive craving  and  greedy.Accomplishing seemingly difficult task at the click of a button or buying few extra lives is the lesson a child learns which he will mimic in real life situation. The way these games are designed they create enough stress for the children to be interested with easier options always accessible.
Inappropriate Behavior
If someone is obsessed with anything the moment you take it away from them they will definitely react .This does not imply only to kid but you will also see this with adults. It’s become a habit or I may say fashion whenever we see a child getting bored or having a tantrum parents tend to give them the smart phone or tablet as an act of soothing them down. Although in the  near future it may release the tension but In the long run interferes with the natural mechanism of self-regulation .These lessons are of great importance specially in future to deal with the disparity and struggle of life which everyone of us have had to face. 
Sleep Deprivation
Almost a decade ago it was a common fact that people watched television when they were sleep deprived. Although the numbers were not great but it was one of the measures to kill time if you didn’t get sleep. But now with advent of smart phones it has almost become a habit for many young adults to sleep with their smart phone or tablets. What it does that light from the screen suppresses the hormone melatonin which activates the Reticular activating system(RAS) of the mid brain giving the message to the brain that it is daytime. This affects the circadian rhythms and cause sleep deprivation. What seemed as measure to kill time when you are sleep deprived has become the cause of sleep deprivation. There are many parents who do not supervise their kids and allow them to use gadgets when they are sleeping. It is obvious that children who are sleep deprived will have trouble with their concentration and have effects on their grade
Muted Learning skills
I think most of the parents including me would agree that smart phone and tablets distract the kids and decrease their ability to focus and concentrate in their studies. Too much of visual stimulation and rapid pictorial image changes create very little time for the child to understand and analyse the situation. It needs to be remembered these are crucial years of learning and would greatly affect their sensorimotor and visual motor skills. These are important in learning maths, science or anything to do with logical reasoning and analyzing. Asking questions is the first step to learning .If everything is spoon fed then the quest to learn simply dries out.

However there are games which actually increase their attention skills but the child is inclined to learning more with motion pictures and actually finds it difficult to read a book attentively because of the defective neural pathways. It is also found that most of the video and online games also limit kids’ budding creativity and imaginations and slow their motor and optical sensory development.

Poor self Introspection

A fact that 60 to 70 per cent of our interaction is nonverbal (i.e through facial expression, eye movements, body language).All this creates a gap in learning of essential social skills. These are all fundamental to establishing human relationships. And they’re all missing with most forms of modern technology. Kids are spending so much time communicating through technology that they’re not developing basic communication skills that humans have used since forever. Communication is not just about words but also about expression and emotions. It is impossible for anyone to communicate their feelings merely by emoticons and have the same effect of one to one communication with the individual.If the communications skills are poor how does one expect to be empathetic to any one.

Susceptible to psychological trauma.

Once again poor communication skills lead to isolation and frustration for any individual. This makes the child susceptible to cyber bullying which has become a reality in today’s world. Access to too much information which is not age appropriate gives rise to curiosity in young children about their physicality and body changes. Childhood depression, anxiety attention deficit disorder are the some of the unwanted gifts  of the twenty first century which we need to protect our children from.

Obesity

Too much time spends in front of the screen leads to lack of movement and physical exercise. If Children do not play in the playground, they only end up increasing their weight. Childhood obesity is not only due to the lack of activity but also due to the isolation and lack of communication skills which leads to overeating (a sign of Depression).Obesity in childhood is a precursor for early diabetic ad high blood pressure in later years.

Pumping in aggression
Violent movies and games only end up creating aggression in the young minds. They start feeling that it is okay to be mean and aggressive in normal life. The child is too young to differentiate between the normal life and abnormal situations which they depict. The striking rise in children aggression is another issue we have to deal when raising a child in today’s world. 
On the other side more and more emphasis is given to the emotional quotient in workplace as compared to the intelligence quotient for more effective performance. This paradoxical situation makes it all the more necessary for parents to intervene and tame this technological monster.
Although because of peer pressure and hard wiring of the last few years ,the child may be initially resistant. Parents can increase the inter family communication ,starting with dinner time where gadgets need to be away from the dinner table. We need to understand that when we take the gadget away there will be a vacuum in the child's life .This needs to be filled with quality family time and a lot of patience. 
Another important step for parents who want to put an end to their children's mobile addiction is to role model them. If you cannot leave your addiction it becomes unfair to expect the kids to do so.

Although we are lucky due to the great work of a few intelligent minds we are accessible to gadgets which have increased greater convenience and colors to our lives .But it has also created these very disturbing and serious effects on our future generations. We need to act before it’s too late.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Whats the science behind loosing an argument and why some people love arguing?

You’re in a tense conversation with a friend trying to defend your position on a political leader and his policies and start to feel yourself losing ground. Your voice gets louder. You talk over one of your colleagues and correct his point of view. He pushes back, so you go into overdrive to convince everyone you’re right. It feels like an out of body experience — and in many ways it is. In terms of its neurochemistry, your brain has been hijacked.
It is a common scenario especially with high voltage political campaigns around the world. However this can happen even in a simple conversation between couples regarding the child’s future which can convert into an ugly argument.
 By definition an argument is a series of statements typically used to persuade someone of something or to present reasons for accepting a conclusion. So what goes in our brain that makes us lose the argument and the other win inspite of us knowing more relevant facts but we simply can’t win the argument. The fact that everyone believes that they are right is well known but the reason  some people win the argument has to do with changes in the brain which the other ones don’t have.
Corpus Callosum
We all know that there are two parts of the brain, the right and the left hemisphere. These hemisphere are joined by fibrous tract known as the corpus callosum .The thickness of the corpus callosum determines the cross connection between two sides of the brain. Any conversation requires the valid points to be remembered from the hippocampus (memory storage part of the brain) and the impulse is transferred to the thinking brain (Left parietal and frontal  lobe) and then to the right counterpart to form a meaningful sentence and finally to the speech center. This sounds very complicated but you can actually imagine the brain overworks when we get into an argument and hence we feel exhausted by the end of it.
 So people having thickened corpus callosum fibers tend to hasten this process and are able to come up with valid points supporting their point of view. Also they will end up remembering and speaking the right thing at the right time. Women surprisingly by birth have a thicker corpus callosum and the saying that you can never win a conversation with a woman holds true.
Stress
The other reason is stress and persons behavior which make him prone to get worked up. In situations of high stress, fear or distrust, the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol floods the brain. Executive functions that help us with advanced thought processes like strategy, trust building, and compassion shut down. And the amygdala, our emotional and reactive brain, takes over.
The body makes a chemical choice about how best to protect itself — in this case from the shame and loss of power associated with being wrong — and as a result is unable to regulate its emotions or handle the gaps between expectations and reality. So we default to one of four responses: fight (keep arguing the point), flight (revert to, and hide behind, group consensus), freeze (disengage from the argument by shutting up) or appease (make nice with your adversary by simply agreeing with him).This another reason why we end up losing the argument.
The moment we shift from logical reasoning to emotional implosion we start losing the argument. This is the area where we can work upon and can be highly effective. Going further I will try to explain why some people end up in arguing on a regular basis.
The stress created in an argument prevents the honest and productive sharing of information and opinion. But, I can tell you that the fight response is by far the most damaging to any relationships. It is also, unfortunately, the most common. That’s partly due to another neurochemical process. 

When you argue and win your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible. It’s a feeling any of us would want to replicate. So the next time we’re in a tense situation, we fight again. We get addicted to being right. So what goes on in our mind that we start losing the conversation and hence these series of cascade of neurochemicals flooding our mind.

Luckily, there’s another hormone that can feel just as good as adrenaline: oxytocin. It’s activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing. Your goal as a leader should be to spur the production of oxytocin in yourself and others, while avoiding (at least in the context of communication) those spikes of cortisol and adrenaline.

Here are a few exercises for you to do at work to help addiction to being right:
 Deciding Rules of engagement. If you’re heading into a conversation that could be a little difficult, start by outlining rules of engagement. For example, you might agree to give people extra time to explain their ideas and to listen without judgment. These practices will counteract the tendency to fall into harmful conversational patterns. Afterwards, consider see how you and the person  did and seek to do even better next time.
Empathetic listening. In one-on-one conversations, make a conscious effort to speak less and listen more. The more you learn about other peoples’ perspectives, the more likely you are to feel empathy for them. And when you do that for others, they’ll want to do it for you, creating a virtuous circle.
Speak one at a time. In situations when you know one person is likely to dominate a group, create an opportunity for everyone to speak. Ask all parties to identify who in the room has important information, perspectives, or ideas to share. List them and the areas they should speak about on a flip chart and use that as your agenda, opening the floor to different speakers, asking open-ended questions and taking notes.
 Arguments are a way of life. We live, we love, we argue, we make up. Sometimes though, arguments cause breakage - of relationships, families and people.The more we can understand about how we argue, the more deliberate we can be in responding to conflict in such a way as to preserve the relationship.





Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why Decision Making becomes decision fatigue -whats the science dude?

Take a moment to count the decisions you have made since morning. Most likely, you’ve chosen what clothes  to wear, what to have for breakfast, which route to take to work. Once at work, you took stock of pressing demands and made some decisions about which tasks to tackle first.
 If you’re a manager, you might have had to schedule and attend meetings, possibly negotiate with team members on a proposal, counsel administrative staff, prepare reports or presentations, and pitch an idea.

All before lunch...........

Additionally, because of escalating pressures and deadlines, you might have felt called upon to do the thinking for some of the people you work with, something you find both necessary and frustrating at the same time. 
When you notice that some team members respond without enthusiasm, you grow resentful. Intellectually, you know it’s important for employees to have ownership in the decisions that are being made so they will be more likely to carry them out.
But the deadline is looming, there’s no time, and it’s your job on the line.
If any of this sounds like something you experience in home with your kids or at work , it’s quite possible you’re suffering from decision fatigue.
 Neuroscience explains why we suffer this fatigue and points to what we can do to guard against it.
This happen because of the part of the brain called Prefrontal Lobe. Although it is supposed to be the newest and the most effective part of the brain, it has its own shortcomings.
 The prefrontal cortex is like the ‘goldilocks’ of the brain, because it needs to have everything just right or it doesn’t function well. This most evolved part of the brain allows people to plan ahead, make complex decisions, organize and inhibit unhelpful responses.
Amygdala  an almond shaped organ in the brain responsible for emotions and evoking the stress response(flight ,fright and freeze).Under stress, however, the prefrontal cortex can malfunction—as chemicals are unleashed, cells are prevented from communicating properly, and we find we are less able to regulate both our thoughts and our behavior.
Another area of importance is the anterior cingulate cortex(ACC). Research has found that cells in this area are active when people widen or narrow their attention — say, when they filter out distractions to concentrate on a difficult task, like listening for a voice in a noisy room.

Threats v Rewards
The primary goal of the brain is to minimize threat and maximize reward, which has implications for decision-making and problem-solving. 
When an individual or team experiences levels of threat, we know this impact on the capacity to think clearly and make good decisions. The threat response is mentally taxing and deadly to the productivity of a person or an organisation. It also impairs analytic thinking and creative insight.
On the other hand, we know that reward states are positive and support creativity and engagement, allowing people to make better assessments of risk.  Remember, however, that the brain likes everything to be just right. Too much reward can impact negatively on decision-making as our arousal increases beyond the point of optimal performance.
Think back to one of those days where you are performing a number of tasks at a high level. You might be in meetings all day having to concentrate. You might be in a training course or learning a new skill. Or you might be driving to an unfamiliar destination along a busy freeway.  All of these experiences take a large toll on your prefrontal cortex, which has limited capacity to work on ‘high alert’ during any given day. The more you use it for highly complex cognitive processing, the more quickly the ‘power’ within your brain drains.
Creative decision making usually requires both analysis and sudden out-of-the-box insight.
You may really end up toggling between the two, but I think that they are truly different brain states.At least, that is what brain-imaging studies are beginning to show. At first, such studies did little more than confirm that the process was happening as expected: brain areas that register reward spiked in activity when people came up with a solution, for instance.

Some of the suggested methods for improved decision making are

Reduce your stress levels
  High levels of stress create a lot of noise in the brain and inhibit our ability to have and hear creative insights.  Insights are the result of a very small number of distantly associated brain cells talking to each other.  To compare, deciding what to eat for breakfast involves millions of brain cells having a conversation with each other.  An insight only involves a few thousands of neurons talking to each other.  This is why we have them when our brains are quiet and activity level is low.  
 To illustrate, imagine you are hosting a party and a guest knocks at your front door, the music is blasting and you are out on your back deck enjoying conversation with other guests.  You will probably not hear the person knocking at your front door because the noise level is too high to hear the knock.  To be able to hear it, you would need to turn down the music.  It is a similar situation in our brains in that when anxiety levels go up, so does the noise level, making it very challenging to hear quiet signals coming to us from our non-conscious in the form of creative ideas.  The key is to keep yourself and others around you in a positive mood where anxiety and noise levels are low. 
Reboot your mind set 
An impasse is a block  or a dead lock in the thought process which does not seem to have a resolution.To overcome an impasse we have to experience a shift in perspective – a break in our mental set.  It is our natural tendency to project interpretations on to situations based on our past experiences.  Unfortunately, this hinders our ability to see a different perspective.  To illustrate this, let’s practice right now.
Say for instance you take A route for work every day .Imagine that you are  considering route B for tomorrow, write down the reasons you come up for taking up route A and not route B .Inspite of the valid reasons take route B the next day of course taking in consideration you do not get late for work. When you reach your office note down how many of the reasons were really valid and did you experience any anxiety or fear while taking route B. One of the biggest obstacles to breaking a mental set is analytic thinking, also known as rational thinking. Focusing on the problem and putting effort into finding the solution does not create the mental state conducive to having an insight. 
 Engaging in analysis with our rational brain constrains our ability to creatively solve an insight problem by further cementing a particular perspective or mental set and thus leading to hap hazard decisions.  This often disrupts the ability to see different perspectives. 
 Consider the discovery of the sticky note.  The glue that didn’t stick so well and seemed to have no value at all was considered a problem until someone broke their mental set and realized that a glue that didn’t stick that well could actually be a good thing.
Reconsider  
Sometimes if we want to experience creative solutions, we have to reconsider so that we can see the bigger picture.  A metaphor to illustrate this is seeing the forest instead of focusing on the trees.  Studies show that people are more able to make better decisions if they visualize or imagine themselves in the future solving their problem.   This promotes a form of reconsidering which results in the production of creative ideas. 

At this point we have strong circumstantial evidence that this resting state predicts how you make decisions later on and that it may in fact vary by individual. 

So if you try to make a decision after seeing a comedy movie the probability that the results will be favorable compared after seeing a horror or  an intense movie.


The punch line is that a good joke can move the brain toward just this kind of state. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Early childhood brain development-Whats The science dude?

                    Radha was a software engineer and a perfectionist. She was  highly proficient  in her work and was appreciated by everyone with her problem solving skills and her dedication.She was very particular about any project she undertook. She would research the project in length and then after analyzing it, would give the appropriate solutions. She was working from home since the last 4 months as it was mutually decided  by the couple that she was not going to take stress .She was 6 months pregnant and was taking good care of her physical as well as mental health. She planned to get back to work after 3 months of pregnancy and she goes to the doctor to find out how she should manage the child after delivery  and get to work without having any negative effects on the child. She was confused as schooling starts after 3 years and wanted to know how she can nurture her child's early days.This is a very common dilemma of  majority of the working woman .The early childhood years are a period of rapid change in the brain. During early and middle childhood, the brain forms and refines a complex network of connections in the brain through synaptogenesis, pruning, and myelination.
 A child’s brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to three years—producing more than a million neural connections each second.
There has been an explosion of research over the past decade that shows how important the first few years of a child’s life are in terms of brain development. 

A newborn at birth has most of the brain cells that we will have for our entire life, but relatively little of the connections, the circuits among the different cells. What happens very, very rapidly is that the brain is building connections, it’s building synapses(connections).  A baby forms 700 new neural connections per second in the first years of life. This process of building the architecture of the brain is dramatically influence by life experiences. It is not genetically hardwired. Literally our environment shapes the architecture of our brain in the first year of life. This we term as neuroplasticity. 
The process of forming connections is biologically driven, but experiences also promote synapse formation. The brain produces many more synapses than it will ultimately use. Researchers describe this process as synaptic overproduction. This rapid synapse formation continues throughout early childhood.The process of myelination(covering of nerve fibres with myelin sheath so can process impulses faster) also continues during early childhood and is the major cause of the increase in a child's brain size.  In the first four years of life, the brain increases to 80% of its adult weight of 2.6 - 3.3 pounds (1200-1500 grams).
Pruning(eliminating unused nerve fibres) is a key process that shapes the brains of young children. Synaptic overproduction causes synapses to develop extremely rapidly. The pruning process refines these connections based on experience. Connections used regularly become stronger and more complex. Connections not used are considered non-essential, and the brain eventually prunes them away to increase efficiency.

As an example, an infant's brain has connections that allow her to hear sounds from all languages in the world. During the early years, the brain strengthens connections for sounds in the languages she hears regularly. Over time, the brain eliminates the connections for other sounds. This is why most adults have trouble distinguishing sounds that are not in our language.An infant's brain is dependent on responsiveness from adults. So all those adorable things that babies do right from the beginning -- coos, gurgles, sounds and smiles -- how an adult responds to those coos and gurgles help shape the brain circuitry. The first sound that a n newborn hears is the mothers voice which is the only familiar voice it hears on birth. This is the probable reason in adulthood when we hear our mothers voice it has a calming effect because of the strong connection.
The baby does something, the adult responds back. Vice versa. And it's the back and forth, the responsiveness, that shapes the brain circuits. We begin to see differences in the size of a child’s vocabulary as early as 18-24 months."These differences are not genetically hardwired. They're based in the differences in the kind of language environment and interactions the child grows up in.

Some of the core principles on which foundation of  brain development rest are
1.   Human development is shaped by a dynamic and continuous interaction between change in structure and experience.
2. Culture influences every aspect of human development and is reflected in child rearing beliefs and practices designed to promote healthy adaptation.
 3. The growth of self-regulation is a cornerstone of early childhood development that cuts across all domains of behavior.
4. Children are active participants in their own development, reflecting the intrinsic human drive to explore and master one's environment.
5. Human relationships, and the effects of relationships on relationships, are the building blocks of healthy development.
6. The broad range of individual differences among young children often makes it difficult to distinguish normal variations and maturational delays from transient disorders and persistent impairments.
7. The development of children unfolds along individual pathways whose trajectories are characterized by continuities and discontinuities, as well as by a series of significant transitions.
8. Human development is shaped by the ongoing interplay among sources of vulnerability and sources of resilience.
9. The timing of early experiences can matter, but, more often than not, the developing child remains vulnerable to risks and open to protective influences throughout the early years of life and into adulthood. 
10. The course of development can be altered in early childhood by effective interventions that change the balance between risk and protection, thereby shifting the odds in favor of more adaptive outcomes.
Early intervention is the most promising strategy to build the nation and form a compassionate and peaceful society  and is the need of the hour.
Radha left the doctors clinic with a firm resolution to dedicate as much as time possible and spending time with her to-be-born child at least for the first two years . 
“Nothing that happens early childhood is going to make a difference .”is not an acceptable statement after  findings of  scientific research on neuroplasticity and early childhood. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Learning Mathematics a not so easy job -Whats the science dude?

Ramesh had got his result from school today .His summer vacations had just got over and the school had for some odd reasons a rule to announce their final results after the summer vacations .Ramesh had fun during his vacations and had promised his mother that he will study when the school starts.
Geeta ,Ramesh’s mother was very particular about his academics and was always in touch with his school teachers about his academic progress. She knew Ramesh was weak in mathematics and he did like the subject. He would run away whenever she tried to teach him maths.Probably the reason was that he spends most of his time reading story books or painting.Anyways she got him last year a professional math’s private tutor who would sit with him every day for one hour. She was sure there would be improvement in his scores.Ramesh disliked the teacher for obvious reasons. When Ramesh showed Geeta his marks she could not believe her eyes .His scores had only marginally improved from  50 , he had improved to 55.But surprisingly his English and Art marks had improved almost 20 percent as compared to last year.Geeta was perplexed how this had happened even after putting so much effort .

So let me try to explain how our brain works when we do maths.Mostly everyone knows that the term "dyslexia" refers to people who can't keep words and letters straight. A rarer term is "dyscalculia," which describes someone who is virtually unable to deal with numbers, much less do complicated math. Scientists now have discovered the area of the brain linked to dyscalculia, demonstrating that there is a specific part of the brain essential for counting properly.

The idea that mathematical skills reside only on the left part of the brain proved to be a myth. In reality, in most activities, the entire brain is used at all times. Mathematical thinking entails complex brain functions, interconnected to perform even the simplest of functions. For example, you may use the right parietal lobe to get close to a mathematical solution; however, to get the right answer, the left hemisphere further processes your solution

The right hemisphere matures before the left hemisphere for most cognitive skills, such as numerical understanding or appreciating quantities.
 According to scientists, both types of numerical knowledge employ parts of both the parietal and prefrontal cortex in adults.


Creative mathematical ability involves discovering multiple solutions to a problem or solving real world problems. Scientists affirm that highly gifted creative mathematical thinkers employ extensively the parietal and frontal areas on both parts of the brain. Studies on Einstein’s brain proved that regions of his right parietal area were so dense with neurons that one of the major cortical indentations (IPS) was actually filled in completely and difficult to locate . The intraparietal sulcus (IPS) region is activated when a person thinks of numbers or does math. The inferior frontal gyrus known as Broca’s language area, is responsible for expressive language, such as speaking or writing.
 Another area, known as Wernicke’s language area is responsible for understanding spoken or written language. Recent studies have shown that Broca’s plays a large part in understanding syntax in addition to forming it.
All of these areas appear in the dominant hemisphere (side) of the brain, which in 97% of the population is the left side.
Geometry is associated with visual-spatial representations – analysis of space, shape, points, lines, angles, surfaces, and configuration, etc, which are activated in the right cerebral hemisphere - the right parietal and frontal areas of the brain, to be more specific. 
You would need the synchronization of eight separate parts of the brain for the different arithmetic operations. 
For example, for identifying written digits, you activate the left and right visual cortices. 
For understanding quantities – the left and right parietal cortices . 
To solve word problems – the left temporal cortex and
 for complex mathematical reasoning – the left and right frontal areas.


Imagine how you really pick the shortest checkout line.You could count the number of shoppers in each line, in which case you'd be thinking discretely in terms of numerosity.
But if you're a hurried shopper, you probably take a quick glance at each line and pick the one that seems the shortest. In this case you're thinking in terms of continuous quantity. The two modes of thinking are so similar but the difference lies in the way your brain executes the function. For kids who find it difficult learning math’s the first method is a better option. Rather than hurrying into answering the mathematical problem Understanding,analysing and then calculating seems to be more prudent solution .
As for Geeta she accepted the fact that her child was able to paint and read much better than arithmetic problems and she stopped pressurizing Ramesh for mathematics rather encouraged him to take his own time and solve the maths problem to the best of his abilities. 


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Law of attraction a myth or reality- Whats the science dude?

It was a wet Sunday Morning and Rahul had decided  to take a total break from work. He was due for this as he had just finished his project for which he had toiled his heart  and soul by working day and night since the last one month. He had planned for a long drive with his beautiful wife and daughter to Lonavala Ghats (a small hill station close to Mumbai, India). He got up by the clattering sound of the rain falling on his roof which instantly gave him a smile. He realized that it was going to be a beautiful weather and things were magically working out exactly the way he had planned. He woke everyone up and much to his surprise, within half an hour everyone was in the car on the way to a beautiful day ahead. They were in such high spirits that they started singing songs and cracking jokes. As they started reaching closer to their destination, there was huge traffic on the Ghat which was moving at a snails pace. There was constant honking by the fellow travelers which was irritating Rahul.  It was almost an hour and Rahul started getting annoyed, blaming the government, people,cars and police for this mismanagement .Suddenly the mood became tense in the car and the couple almost decided that they will turn back rather than wasting their Sunday in traffic. Except his 7 year old daughter who was listening to music all the while the couple was really getting annoyed. 

Then a young girl Babita aged 19 who was selling toys on the road came up to them and told them that they were lucky as this traffic was there since last night and only now had started moving. God had blessed their family with grace and kindness unlike her who was an orphan and  she did not have a family. Still she was happy as hot summers had finally got over and she did not like hot weather .She wished good luck for them and requested them to buy some soft toy as a memoir of this beautiful day they plan to spend together. Rahul who normally shooed of these road side sellers, suddenly felt overwhelmed with happiness and an urge to buy a soft toy as remembrance to this beautiful moment. He looked at the girl who was dressed in dirty Salwar Kamiz(dress worn by Indian girls) but her face was markedly filled with happiness which was infectious. He bought 3 soft toys from her ,one for each of them and shared some food packets they had bought along.Suddenly all the irritation and anger which had accumulated in him disappeared and they had a great day in spite of  getting stuck in traffic one hour post their encounter with the girl.

The law of attraction is the attractive, magnetic power of the Universe that draws similar energies together. It manifests through the power of creation, everywhere and in many ways. Even the law of gravity is part of the law of attraction. This law attracts thoughts, ideas, people, situations and circumstances. The happiness ,the little girl exhibited had an effect on  Rahul’s brain pathway which rewired the negative thoughts ‘the dominant the traffic snarl’ to positive thoughts.Suddenly from a happy mood in the morning to anger and irritation due to traffic and then back to happiness, the long journey is an essential part of everyone’s life. We can all co relate this to some incident in our life .Why this happens and what are the changes which take place in our highly complex brain can be explained with the recent development in Neuroscience, Neuroplasticity and Neurophysics .
Ralph Trine wrote in In Tune With The Infinite (1897):
"The law of attraction works universally on every plane of action, and we attract whatever we desire or expect. If we desire one thing and expect another, we become like houses divided against themselves, which are quickly brought to desolation. Determine resolutely to expect only what you desire, then you will attract only what you wish for". 
To simplify it ,I will try to explain first  the anatomical structure and functioning of the brain. The brain can be divided for the sake of understanding into its  physical structure,neurochemicals and  electrical impulses. I will try to briefly explain which part gets activated in  the above incident and then why it happened so.

All of us agree these high paced emotional turmoils are a common phenomenon in most of the  lives of people .The part of the brain responsible for firing of emotions is an almond shaped structure called amygdala which develops from two years of birth and is responsible for firing of the emotions .Another brain structure of importance in this scenario is the Nucleus Accumbens which is also known as the reward center and is the one responsible for feeling happy by activating the reward circuit. This was the center which was activated what  Rahul experienced in the morning and when Babita spoke to him. The Nucleus Accumbens is the one responsible for secreting dopamine which is the neurochemical responsible for happiness(positivity) and activates the reward circuit. 
Similarly when the amygdala gets fired when Rahul was angry .The brain releases the GABA  (gamma amino butyric acid) and serotonin which is a inhibitory neurochemical responsible for negative emotions. It gives us a negative aspect of the situation  and too much of GABA and reduced levels of serotonin  leads to depression.This forms the basis of pharmacological treatment of depresion.
The way our brain has been conditioned due to the genetic predisposition of our ancestors has resulted it in been naturally bias to negative inputs .However a word of caution ,these were necessary for survival. For example when we are walking in a dark forest and we come across some long twigs, this negative bias is responsible for our mind to think that there may be a snake which protects us from the coming danger. But the same pathway also gets active when we are stuck in traffic what we call in today's world as stress. Also these messages are quickly send along the neurons (wires in the brain through the synapses(gaps between neurons where a neurochemical is released. These impulses create an image in our mind which is our perception depending upon on what we believe on the given situation formed by these neurochemicals.

So coming to the law of attraction where like poles attract and opposite  repel. One explanation is given by discovery of Mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are created by an individual  by replicating the same circuit which is present in the opposite person as perceived by our special senses (eyes,ears,skin,smell) .What Rahul got irritated by constant honking or his wife got irritated by creating these mirror neurons  on seeing Rahul's irritation are examples how mirror neurons are formed. These can be explained when huge rallies by political speaker suddely lead to violence by inflammatory speeches used by them .The mechanism responsible is that the brain creates images in our mind  and these  are replicated in the opposite persons mind. The only thing to ponder is the speed with which the mind can create these mirror images.

The other explanation is given by the quantum theory of physics about electromagnetic effect of individual atom. Similarly, since each cell is made of atom having positive and negative charge they have a  field of electron around them .When driven by powerful emotions(highly charged emotions)  these circuits create the same or opposing  alignment in opposite person’s circuit which creates  a  response. Hence,Emotions are infectious and being positive  and having an optimist approach to lives are some of the solutions  given by elders and renowned psychologists  to the caretakers when dealing with a case of depression.

Another factor responsible is the part of the brain called OrbitoFrontal prefrontal  Cortex (OFC)l lobe also known as the social brain. Humans right from birth have a craving for social interactions starting from the smile and cuddling by the mother. Every human being craves for this basic need like food,water and shelter and is often under estimated as we become adults. In our desires to achieve success and pursuit for our goals we tend to overlook this basic need. Children who have a disturbed childhood tend to be emotionally disturbed as compared to the other kids. Although they have a desire for more affectionate relationships, the poor social skills learnt because of a disturbed childhood tends to create unstable relationships. Such kids create these mirror neurons right from the early age and are very difficult to overcome in adulthood.These are learned at a very tender age and form the basis of relationship in adulthood.
The world is moving today from what was a technological revolution to  an over driven and highly overworked socio emotional complex circuits in our brain. The basic understanding of the laws of attraction is the first step towards untangling  the complex and jumbled up brain pathways which is  leading to an  impulsive and over reactive society.



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