That Stranger In The Mirror: Neuroscience For Everyone
This is a practical applied course in Neuroscience and Psychology, that’s about knowing yourself, knowing others, and knowing stuff.
Let’s parse that.
- Knowing Yourself: The course presents different parts of our brains – such as the prefrontal cortex, the limbic system, basal ganglia – and how these brain systems drive our behaviour and motivation.
- Knowing Others: We will examine one set of personality traits, known as the OCEAN traits or Big-Five traits, and examine 32 different personality types that follow from these.
- Knowing Stuff: How memories are formed, how this process is influenced by sleep, and how different learning styles interact with memory and understanding.
Here’s what this course includes:
- Basics of Neuroscience: Different brain systems – the prefrontal cortex as center of our attention; the limbic system which governs our towards/away responses; basal ganglia that manage autopilot routines and habits; the anterior cingulate which craves novelty; the ventrolateral prefrontal which manages the most difficult function of conscious thought – saying No.
- Free Will and Free Won’t: Conscious thought consists of 5 primary functions: inhibiting, deciding, recalling, understanding and memorising. See why inhibiting is so hard, why decision fatigue makes us procrastinate, and why we should talk in bullets, think in trees, and decide in pairs
- Motivations: Our brain has surprisingly complex urges – including cravings for independence, fairness, curiosity, loyalty and vengeance. These motivations make us behave the way we do. We look at the 16 Primary Urges, Maslow’s Hierarchy, and the Autonomy-Mastery-Purpose framework of what drives us.
- Seeking Flow: Perhaps the most important concept in this course, flow refers to a state of intense focus, of oneness with one’s work. This state sounds almost magical – and it is, but its also real, and backed by hard science. People who get addicted to this state experience a neurochemical high, and what’s more, are more successful than those who work for rewards such as money.
- The Big Five Personality Traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. Collectively, these OCEAN traits can be used to classify personalities into 32 types, and give us real insights into how people are likely to think and behave.
- Memory: Every experience, every sensation triggers a pattern of neuron firings in our brain – this pattern is unique and is a memory. See how this pattern is reconstructive, and associative.
- Sleep: Sleep is essential for creativity, memory consolidation, and also just for staying happy. Understand why not getting enough sleep makes us grumpy (it has to do with our limbic alertness to threats being greater than that to rewards!)
- Learning: Our brains are wired to very efficiently process spatial stimuli (maps, trees), visual stimuli (images) and auditory stimuli (songs). THink about how much information is packed into a song – tune, beat, lyrics, and these days, visuals. We are not quite so good with numbers or blocks of text – and this is a big part of information overload these days.