TheConfidante In the Media
As promised, my next instalment on the wonderful world of relationships, happiness and the brain!
Whilst you might be over my neurobabble of late, you’ve got to love the fabulous findings about the brain that explains joy and fulfillment! Recent social neuroscience research reveals a specific pattern of brain activity occurs when you perform kind acts for others. When your folks asked you to play kindly, they were setting your brain up for success.
If you were to hand over $100 to someone in need without expecting anything in return, the limbic region of your brain will go “bing”. Ok, so it won’t make that sound, but it’ll reflect activity you’ve been compassionate. Furthermore, your medial prefrontal cortex and temporoparietal junction would also likely want to say something like, ”nice one” if it could! Whilst there’s much to be explored in this field, you can’t ignore these findings about the warm fuzzies your brain and body experience when you’re benevolent!
There was also a very cool study published in Science, conducted through the University of Oregon about neuroarchitecture and altruism. They proved when their research subjects donated money voluntarily or involuntarily their part of the brain associated with the processing of unexpected rewards became active. The neurons there secrete dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in reward-motivated behaviour. (You also get a hit of this with “likes” on your Instagram post.) The team found higher amounts of dopamine for each subject when voluntarily choosing to donate as opposed to when they were forced to. As it turns out, whether we expect a reward or not, the midbrain will become activated regardless of whether we are sad or happy with our reason for doing it. It’s interesting that whether you feel good about it is irrelevant to this “hardwired” reward activity.
Now that we know that the brain changes according to experience, activities like focussing, contemplating, and giving, cause it to grow and change. This is consistent with evidence of how your genes can be affected by your own environment. It makes absolute sense you can practise and train yourself or your children to be gracious and helpful for health reasons. The downstream effects of healthy brains to our body is an exciting current field of exploration.
The bottom line? Find health and happiness by actively seeking opportunities to give and support others in your daily life. If you have children, create rituals in your family that inspires regular contributing together so it’s a natural enjoyable part of their culture from a young age.
Examine yourself for those unhealthy ways you may have become addicted to lighting up your brain such as social media. We can also get tunnel vision with our robotic and urgent to-do’s, stuck in the latest reality television series or so distracted by our own problems; we lose sight of this grand beautiful picture! A world where we stay true to our inherent design relying on and supporting dynamic relationships and well-being for all.
With thanks to “Altruistic behaviour - mapping behaviour responses in the brain” sourced from the National Library of Medicine.
Joanne Wilson is a neuro psychotherapist, relationship specialist, radio co-host, workshop facilitator and guest speaker. Contact www.theconfidantecounselling.com or via email.
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised.
Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples servicing areas including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.