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In Lab - Archive

04/07/2014
THE BRAIN STEM AND PERSONAL STRENGTH

 

 

The sixth stage on the ideal path dealing with professional aptitudes.



Roberto Vaccani

The brain functions considered so far and thought patterns associated with them, metaphorically speaking, illuminate many aspects of human behavior, but not the energy functions of the individual, the processes that regulate mental and physical strength of humans. Perhaps the most ancient part of the brain, the brain stem (Figure 1), can suggest some answers.

 

The brain stem is the senior part of the brain, because its appearance is traced to about five hundred million years ago. It is also called the reptilian brain because its appearance resembles the ultimate evolution of the brain of a reptile (Robert Ornstein - Richard F. Thompson, 1988).This archaic brain still has the task of supervising the most fundamental human functions. First of all, it governs an individual’s heartbeat and breathing.

Throughout the brainstem an intricate nerve network called the reticular activating system is developed, involved in the regulation of the sleep / wake cycle and features greatly in the important function of energy charge. The brain stem in the form of an energy accumulator is charged by the amount of multi-sensory stimulations to which its owner is exposed. In other words, the more a person’s surroundings are rich in multiple sensory stimuli that trigger our ways of perception (vision, listening, smell, taste, kinesics) the more the reticular system charges energy.

 

It thus appears that humans have a "hunger" for sound frequencies, colors, shapes, smells, tastes, physical contact, perceptions of intra-physical and bodily movement. The more the surroundings in which we are immersed are rich in multiple and simultaneous perceptions the more energizing they are. It was thus discovered that individuals are biologically attracted to natural environments, the richest of multiple stimuli, not only for aesthetic or romantic reasons. On the contrary, it has been observed that poor perceptual environments, monochromatic, soundproofed mono-situational, and physically static are therefore psychologically and energetically depressing.

Companies should be grateful to individuals who "stock up energy" spending their weekends in natural environments, so as to report to work reloaded. Similarly they should thank employees that enrich with personal items, colors, sounds, vegetation, their offices usually so depressing. The energy accumulated by the brainstem is ready to be deployed in quantity according to the rate of emotional events estimated by the subjects themselves (rate suggested by the emotional limbic system of the individuals).

 

The brain stem is thus transformed from being an accumulator of energy to a distributor which, under limbic request, gives us a lot of energy to love or to hate, medium-energy to handle states of endurance or motivation, medium / low energy to stay alert or curious (the operation of this reticular system is well described by Donald O. Hebb in his work).

It is therefore in relation to the brainstem and how it works that questions may arise, questions like, "Where does the energetic attitude that characterizes different individuals come from? What determines the relational strength found in leaders or the psychological strength stressed by negotiating conflicts and activated to a different degree from individual to individual? The ability to influence environments and people, is a natural talent or a result of education? "

 

It seems obvious that, like other dissimilar genetic characteristic (height, heart rate, lung capacity, etc..), also the potential energy mechanism may depend on different genetically inherited talents from other individuals. This natural distinction is not acceptable, however, to justify diversity of energy behavior dramatically evident if we compare different individuals. As with many other behaviors, the presence of a high capacity of influencing the environment is a symptom of a combination of genetic and educational causes, the sign of an combination between genetic preconditions and bio-environmental adaptation. It is therefore plausible, applying a combined approach between neuroscience and educational theories, to state that environmental influencers in part are born, but mostly they become such due of the reinforcements energy present in various educational contexts.

 

The acquisition of this aptitude of different energetic value can be traced back in time to the early years of life (the first fifteen years or, optimistically, the first eighteen years). The caliber of an individual’s energy can be ascribed to the socio-environmental education received that can both reward or sap the energy of a person.

It can be argued that socio-environmental backgrounds in which leadership and individual initiative are rewarded rather than punished in childhood, adolescence or post-adolescence, contribute to create dynamic, strong and resourceful individuals. By contrast, socio-environments where individualism is not rewarded or even punished, tend to produce indolent, weak and gregarious individuals.

Contexts of the first kind are, multi-cultural, multi-environment, dynamic, messy, with scarce resources, with authoritative patterns of power. The uncertainty and discomfort, experienced in an environment rich with opportunities, are conditions that train to the difficulty of living and tone the determination and the strength of the individual. In such merit system contexts, effort, perseverance and the awareness of positive goals to be achieved is the educational force behind strength and initiative.

 

Being induced by cultural and educational contexts to work hard (not necessarily struggle) with persistence to achieve the desired results, gives the goals achieved an indelible positive meaning to our existence (rather like "play it again, Sam").

By contrast, mono-cultural environmental contexts, restricted, static, orderly, with mere subsistence resources or opulent and regulated by patterns of fleeting authority or heavily repressive, tend to punish, or at least to weaken a person’s individualism. In these environments, people are induced to associate resourcefulness and originality with environmental prohibitions and punishments (placing prominence in the negative limbic memory ) and, conversely, assigning a positive limbic undertone to obedience or to what is considered most awarded or, at least, not punished.

 

Historical, geographical and economic condition, not to mention the mass media and education policy (family, school, religion, institutions) are important educational agents that determine if prominence will be diffusely granted or prohibited in a certain place and at a certain time. In terms of examples you can analyze the results of widespread energetic depression produced on populations with cultural authoritarian regimes. On the contrary, we can see an inclination to creative energy in entire societies in times of post-war reconstruction or in pluralistic, developmental and democratic environments.

A protective environmental education can easily induce a modestly energetic and adaptive behavior, the result of a rewarding and "affectionately numbing" education. An educational environment, on the other hand, that promotes individual autonomy and the challenges of leadership can induce generalized patterns of prominence.

An economically affluent environment, in which you can easily and quickly get what you want, penalizes the culture of individual achievement and prohibits an education to effort and constancy of commitment. These contexts can produce generations that are pretentious, cowardly, more assertive than enterprising, looking for unethical shortcuts rather than a meritocratic way to success.

 

The concept of leadership can be translated as the ability to influence people and environments, such as the ability to leave a sign of one’s presence. You can influence with authority, with competence, with values, with a testimony, by physical force, with intelligence, but what unites leaders is the energy they put on the field.

There are many organizational activities that require individual strength and leadership: entrepreneurial, managerial, negotiating and commercial roles. Positions that require the ability to influence others, driving energy, strength of conviction, leadership skills, all vital attributes, if one is to avoid failing (both personally and as an organization). Individual strength allows you to conveniently manage conflicting relations, authoritatively sustain unpopular communications and stand the loneliness of those who exercise government roles.

The organizational roles that can be filled by individuals with a low leadership are those that centre more around technical knowledge, special skills and operational abilities. These business roles are more anchored on skills relating to operating practices (production), procedures (administration, office work), practical knowledge / expertise (design, maintenance, repair, computer, consultants, staff roles). In these activities, the ability to influence others takes a back seat.

Aptitude and individual strength, acquired during the age of imprinting (from childhood to adolescence), like other personality traits, are difficult to be acquired, by training, in later periods. Any mismatch between skills and craft is bridgeable through training throughout the entire working life. A significant mismatch of personality traits with respect to trade in adulthood is not bridgeable except with the positioning or repositioning of the subjects in roles consistent with their attitudes.

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