Our Emotional Mind

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Our Emotional Mind [discussion with Professor Richard Davidson]

– we each have a unique emotional style
– each of us vary in degree on the following 6 dimensions:
1) resilience
2) outlook
3) social intuition *
4) self-awareness (how accurate you are in detecting your own bodily/emotional cues)^
5) context (modulating styles on the basis of situational context#
6) attention (between 2 poles – focused & scattered

* this is difficult for people with ASD
^ too much leads to panic attacks &/or hypochondria
# people with PTSD have difficulty with this, & triggers lead to flooding & anxiety

– the Professor contends we each need to work out our emotional style & where we “best-fit” within society

Parts of the brain
– HPA Axis / limbic system
– PFC (right & left sides) – executive control / higher cognitive functions / reason
– left side activation is associated with a resilient style
– emotion & it’s regulation

The Professor further noted:
– meditation can lead to change in brain structure in 8 weeks
– mindfulness – there is evidence to support its efficacy for increasing attention
– extremes on any of the 6 dimensions are often unhelpful
– the Dalai Lama believes meditation & science should be “brought together” because of the strong two-way connections between the mind & the body
– due to neuroplasticity, the brain can change in response to situations/events
– & therefore the brain can change in response to training
– our brains are continually being shaped, & therefore he argues we need o take responsibility for our brains & not just leave it to re environment to shape

Simple interventions can be effective in shifting our emotional styles:
Attention
– flexible modulation is good to increase attention
Resilience
– mindful meditation to recover from adversity
– paying attention on purpose, non-judgmentally so as to not perseverate our negative feelings
Social Intuition
– increase our accuracy in reading such signals by paying attention to social signals
– look at eyes, look at features of face – to improve reading of faces

– “the glad game” – being grateful

Source: ABCRN All in the Mind | broadcast date: 6 May 2012

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