Kind of gross, isn't it?
It looks like sponge you might find at the bottom of the Ocean or something.
Maybe it looks like one of those Nerf toys you could squeeze, fill with water, and throw on your friend.
I remember in biology class thinking, "That just doesn't make sense to me." JUST BY LOOKING AT IT.
But on careful study, I've found the Human Brain the most interesting organ in the human body.
Last weekend, I had a chance to attend a brain development conference with Dr. Karyn Purvus of TCU's Child Development Center, and I'm here to tell you, we are on the cusp of discovering monumental keys to brain development.
The brain is a part of the body most eagerly studied, but until the last couple of decades, has been one of the least understood parts of the human system. Sure we know the anatomy of the brain, but how it works and why it works is quickly becoming revolutionary in how we work with people.
We have good research on the baby brain, as the beginning of life is an interesting story of synapse connection.
We have good research on the elderly brain, as we try and figure out why Alzheimer's disease is plaguing much of our older population.
But little has been done on the Teenage brain, until now.
With the invention of a new medical device called an fMRI, Neuroscientists can now map the activity in the human brain in REAL TIME! They watch as certain centers of the brain become active in certain real time situations.
My time with Dr. Purvis was incredible, and I've been consuming information about what goes on in the teenage brain as they develop into adults like a thirsty man in the desert; and it is FASCINATING.
I found out quickly, the development of the teenage brain is largely centered around the part called the Amygdala. It's a part of the brain made up of almond shaped tissues, and it controls the emotional stability of how we think.
During development, the Amygdala acts like the control center. The variables in decision making pass through this part and all the thoughts, actions, and behavior are filtered through the emotional CPU, if you will.
It was an "A-HA!" moment for me, as we've always known teenagers to be more emotional in decision making, but we didn't know why. We use phrases like, "Well, the hormones are raging" and we answered questions of behavior by dismissing it as just teenage stuff.
I also found Joseph LeDoux, a neuroscientist at the Center for Neural Science at New York University, and discovered the reason why!
During Adolescence the connections in the Amygdala are highly influenced by experience. The synapses are connecting at light speed, and setting up our brain for long term decision making abilities. But at the same time, the brain is pruning the synapses we don't use.
In other words, if you can think of muscle training, your brain is literally strengthening the connections you have as you have various experiences.
If you experience emotional pain, the synapses leading to decision making become stronger.
If you experience lustful emotions, you're strengthening the synapses for lust.
If you have experiences of fun and delight, those parts of the brain become the filter where you make decisions.
ITS INCREDIBLE! and all of the sudden, it makes sense.
I know why it's important to flood a teenagers brain with positive experiences. It's not simply behavior modification, but rather; its actually a training mechanism allowing them to think in a logical way!
Of course this doesn't last forever.
As the brain develops, the CPU for decision making shifts to the Frontal Lobes and Logic becomes part of the mix.
I can't tell you how revolutionary this is to a guy like me dealing with teens all the time. It's like a key to unlock the mystery of behavior, and it gives me real action points to help teenagers and parents of teenagers understand who they are and why they do what they do.
Of course there are multiple centers of development, and you certainly can't spend your time on one part over the other, but in my counseling work this new information is akin to the Rosetta Stone.
I'll be sharing more as I learn more, but I've found a new passion to drive what I'm working on out here at KIVU.
Stay tuned...There's MUCH More to come!