Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Happy Nerd Year

Life is worth living for many reasons…and one of those is to discover a passion—something that stirs deep emotions within, rivets attention at odd hours, and leaves your soul wanting to make the world a better place.

For me, passion = brains. (Well, actually it equals the process of human development from the beginning of time throughout all eternity, but a big part of that, I’ve learned, has to do with our brains.)

pfc

From the time I was a child (I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true), I’ve wondered what motivates people. Why do I think and act the way I do? How do personalities develop? Nature vs. Nurture? And how should I treat my children when they keep waking up at night, refuse to go poop in the toilet, provoke each other for fun, and scream at me (or ignore me…sometimes that feels worse) when I ask them to do something?#%!

And so, I’ve become a brain nerd. (I’ve looked up the definition of a nerd to be sure…according to dictionary.com: 

nerd = an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit

and yes, this fits me…just ask my children who are known for saying, “Are you reading another brain book, Mom?” when I’m supposed to be pouring milk on their cereal. Or ask my husband who has suffered through many nights of trying desperately to be an attentive listener to all the captivating facts about our prefrontal cortexes, but alas, sleep prevails.)

Over the last few years, I’ve poured through child development books and scholarly articles (and “Prefrontal Cortex” on Wikipedia is on my favorites list) because I’m determined to become a stronger expert on human growth…and more importantly on human potential.

I keep thinking…if I can just understand my children more—who they are now, where they are headed, and what’s going on inside their brains and bodies throughout—I increase my chances of being able to help them reach their potential. And my discoveries have taught me that they’re actually in the process of helping me reach mine…We’re on a fascinating journey—Together.

Last year was A Happy Nerd Year for me.

And because my nerdiness has made me a happier parent, I can’t keep all this excitement to myself any longer. So, this year (as time permits)…starting today (because a few have recently asked for some of my conclusions and today happens to be my birthday…WooHoo!), I’ll share a few tips and topics you may find interesting, too.

Here’s a picture of several animal brains. The measurements shown are comparing the various prefrontal cortex regions. Clearly, humans have the biggest chunk up front.

monkey brain

What advanced brain functions do we  have that all other creatures lack? Read up on “Prefrontal Cortexes” (PFC):  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prefrontal_cortex. Perhaps you’ll want to add it to your favorites.

2 comments:

Diana said...

I love this post. I can't relate in saying that I love reading about the human brain, but I do have my own topics that I am completely fascinated with and love to read up on.

My mom told me recently that if you read five books on a certain subject, you can consider yourself an expert in that subject. And, honestly, it appears you know a lot more about the brain than the average person.

I would love a more detailed post on something you like about the topic in the future!

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