Neuroscience-based strategies for encouraging growth mindset, creativity, emotion regulation and resilience.
Season 2 Ep 6 - Outdated Mindsets and the Dark Side of Mindfulness
Where does anxiety come from?
Why is it a part of the human experience?
In a quantitative EEG, we can see anxious-type of thinking reflected in high frequency brainwaves (the 'hibeta' frequency band of around 20-30 hz per cycle*)
*there are variations in what can be labeled as hibeta, but this is a range I use in my current work
It's a type of brain activity that can be useful for emergency and high-stress situations.
But when we can't shift gears to get out of it, it feels overwhelming. It can lead a person to overreact with urgency to something that isn't.
And so they do whatever they can to either 'get out of their mind' by either focusing on something else.
This can take the form of:
'hyper-aroused aggression': trying to find someone to be 'against', stirring the pot
'hyper-aroused activity' like staying constantly busy, not allowing yourself to be still
'hypo-arousal', like collapsing, zoning out, dissociating, become disinterested
'hyper-social': looking to get reactions from others or 'crying out' for help from others in ways that seem disproportionate or irrational. *
Another common way to deal with this high-frequency, overwhelming brain activity is to 'slow it down' using substances. People may also look for medication that helps them do this.
These are all things that can provide temporary 'relief' from the high speed activity of anxious thoughts.
The problem is, they don't actually get to the root of the problem. So as soon as the activity or substance has worn off... there you are with the high-frequency brain activity again.
Moreover, you've 'shifted the burden' to something else, so your brain hasn't used it's own circuitry to navigate through it.
Season 2 Ep 5 - Resilience, Stability and Hyper-Coherent Networks
The formation of self-identity and group identity through the lens of hyper-coherent networks, key features of what makes a system resilient. (remember - your brain, your relationships and human society are all systems).
To help systems become more flexible and innovative, we need to understand the mechanisms of change.
A mindset or paradigm shift is one of those mechanisms.
A level higher than that: being able to rise above paradigms altogether*.
This is what can free our mind to experiment with perspectives that are guided by our values - rather than only confirming a narrow field of vision based on our past, which is largely driven by our tribal identity.
Season 2 Ep 4 - Tech Addiction and the Social Dilemna
The human species has some pretty spectacular systems built into us to achieve mental, emotional and physiological states that most of us are not even really aware of.
We also have systems and features within us that make us very vulnerable to being influenced and 'programmed' into behavior that is not reflective of our most evolved neural circuitry.
Technology is interfering with and manipulating those systems.
And the more we get to know how technology is interfering with those systems, the more we can get control over our internal state rather than let the tech companies (who do not have the best interests of the human brain and nervous system in mind) hack into our vulnerabilities.
Season 2 Episode 3 Feedback Loops
What do a viral video and a stampede of animals have in common?
It's a mechanism that is also related to 'self-fulfilling prophecies', self-beliefs, anxiety and negative thinking in general.
It has to do with something called 'positive feedback'.
This is not verbal commentary, like 'you're doing a great job!'
Positive feedback is something that enhances or amplifies an effect.
In a stampede of animals, the abrupt movement and running of one animal gets detected by another, and another, and this effect continue to amplify until a stampede occurs.
Something similar can happen to a person in certain cases of anxiety.
In some cases, a person may have hyper-interoceptive awareness.
This means that they are very aware of fluctuations within their body, including their heart rate. their interpretation of these sensations may lead them to think something is wrong, that their body is not 'supposed' to do that.
Having this type of interpretation then creates a feedback loop of anxiety about what is wrong, which can lead to for example, a faster heart beat, which then leads to more anxiety.
Something that can have a balancing or correcting effect on a positive feedback loop is 'negative feedback'.
In the case of someone who may become anxious due to their heart beating fast (as an example), a negative feedback could include introducing thoughts that the body is doing something adaptive or beneficial.
A faster beating heart can also mean we are excited, engaged, alert and feeling alive.
I also talk about this idea of 're-appraising physiological signals' in my Neuroscience of Bravery Video
In this episode, we cover how positive feedback loops might be causing us challenges in our thinking, and what we can do to try to interrupt these feedback loops so we can feel more regulated and resilient.
Oliver Cameron - Visceral Sensory Neuroscience
Donella Meadows - Systems Change
Santa Fe Institute - Complexity Podcast
Laurence Gonzales - Surviving Survival
University of Wisconsin Madison study on negative interpretation of stress
Season 2 Episode 2- Your Brain’s Predictions and Paradigms
One of the most complex adaptive systems we know of is the brain*.
When we are trying to understand a complex system, one of the most important things for us to think about is its function.
One of the main functions of the mind-brain-body’s main is to make predictions.
It does this by using our past to make assumptions about what’s happening now. Another word for these ‘assumptions’ are ‘predictive models’.
The mind-brain-body creates predictive models by taking snippets of information and then creating models that it uses to predict lots of things without needing to have all the information of everything it comes across. it would be way less efficient if it had to analyze everything in order to understand it.
These predictive models affect our relationships, behaviors, and even our emotional well-being.
One way these predictive models influence our relationships and how we interact with people is that they prevent you from seeing people as they actually are. Instead, you're seeing them through your model - or paradigm - that's built from your history.
Season 2 Episode 1 – Systems Thinking
Everything you perceive with your senses, you perceive through a filter that was built in your past.
Each one of us has built up neural networks and sensory thresholds that are unique to us, and our mind-brain-body uses our past to create 'predictive models' about how the world works. What people's intentions are, what things and people are appealing or repulsive to us.
Our brain filters information in a way that 'fits' with what it predicts. This can make us become very repetitive, tied to our past and not able to see new opportunities or explanations to things.
These models are influenced by our first encounters with a very small group of people who see over and over again.
And these models are also influenced by our culture and the subcultures we are a part of.
When we try to predict or understand human problems and behaviors without thinking about all of these other systems that influence us, we are distorting the 'lens' we look through. We aren't getting the bigger picture.
This 'lens' we look through is another word for 'paradigm'.
The latin roots of the word paradigm are to 'show beside'. Or 'show side by side'.
Sometimes we don't realize how much we are missing from what we perceive until we are shown a contrast or a new, or higher, wider, bigger perspective.
In Season 2, we are going to look more deeply into the idea of what paradigms or lenses are dominant in our world and in our lives, and how these influence our choices and interactions.
In Episode 1, we'll go into the idea of 'Systems Thinking', which is a paradigm shift from a world view that has dominated science and much of the ways we try to make improvements to things like education or within organizations - often without much success, because we are using a framework that doesn't actually make much sense when we are dealing with something as complex as human beings.
I was suggested to listen to this podcast by Mike Glover. I have been recently rated by the VA for PTS from the Gulf War and this has been very informative on how the brain works and reacts to threats as trauma. Very informative and in terms that are understood. I’m currently working with a psychiatrist this last year with the VA who has been phenomenal in my sessions and this podcast is right in line with what I have been working on to live better quality of life with this condition. Thank You for work in doing this podcast.
This show is great, just one episode had so much value in my thought life! Thanks for your work!
Artfully Executed Neuroscience
I stumbled upon Stefanie’s podcast years ago, and to this day, it’s the most insightful and invaluable material I’ve come across. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve re-listened to her episodes, and how each time, I emerge with a new layer of understanding and deep acceptance for my own and others’ neurological responses. Her eloquence, delivery, and structure are all intentionally and thoughtfully constructed, and she provides a succinct platform to deeply understand our nervous system, reactions, the impact of voice and environment, and the reality of humans as creative, growth-oriented beings with swathes of sound science and research to further your knowledge. I’m beyond grateful for this work.