Monday, 23 March 2009

Changing Minds

When I saw the movie Rainman I didn’t know anything about autism and was intrigued with the “skills” that Raymond had demonstrated in the movie. Fascinating to think that there are people who appear to be mentally challenged and yet these same people have a spark of genius hidden deep inside. This movie had me thinking ........

The human mind is a miracle, there are intricate webs of light inside your mind that shape who you are and your understanding of the world. All through our lives the brain works to make sense of our experiences, thoughts, feelings, memories and ideas. It does so much and yet so much of the way our mind works remains a mystery.

It is said our mind is the greatest computer capable of much more than we realise, and so much more than we ask of it.

What happens when we think? Where do thoughts come from?

My brain is not the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago. There is an ongoing process of change that begins from conception from the very beginning of life and continues throughout your life time.

The brain of a foetus produces twice as many nerve cells as it will need and the excess cells dissolve through pregnancy. After the birth babys brain begin creating neural pathways – making connections that enable baby to see, hear, smell, think and learn. As baby begins to experience his/her world the programming begins. With each new experience the brain begins to adjust and create new connections.

During adolescence there are many many more changes as the cells in the frontal lobe (where we process emotions, judgements & impulses) grows and just before puberty too! This continues well into our early 20’s and probably explains all those mood swings teenagers have as they are literally changing their minds.

In a study whereby a group of adults and teenagers were asked to identify an emotion from photographs of people with various facial expressions. The adults did well but many of the teenagers got it wrong. The participants brains were scanned whilst they took the test. The teenagers used a different area of their brains, they used the amygdala – the areas of the bran used to access raw emotions and “gut” instinct whereas the adults used their frontal lobes and were better able to identify the emotions shown.

As parents of teenagers you may wonder why at times it appears that your teenage son or daughter just doesn’t comprehend what you saying, its almost as if you are talking to Rainman at these times it may help you to think of the changes going on in their minds.

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