The Power of the Brain
Words Andrea Kellerman, Sport and Educational Psychologist, pics Shutterstock
Have you ever wondered if our brain really perceives what we experience? Have you ever been in a situation where others see things differently to how you perceive a situation? If you have, why do you think that happens?
One of the great misconceptions of the contemporary world is that the brain works like a computer. A computer records and stores things in specific places that are stable. But our brains do none of that. To test this theory, hold a piece of red and blue cellophane in front of your eyes. Can you see both colors at the same time? No, you can’t. So why not?
The answer is that one eye sees only the red and the other sees only the blue, at the same time. Your brain cannot stand that. So, when one eye can only see one thing and the other sees something else, your perception alternates out of your control by this ‘rivalry’, as it’s called.
Another thing your brain does is recall things we have learned already. For example, are you able to read the following text?
"Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteers be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."
Chances are you also understood it. It purports that the order of the letters inside a given word doesn't matter, as long as the first and last letters of each word are in the right place. You are able to read the words because the human mind reads words as a whole and not letter by letter.
By understanding how the brain sees things tells us that we should not assume that others see things the same way we do. So don’t get angry with others if they have a different perception to you. As you can see from the examples, it is quite possible to see things in a different light.
In addition, perception can also influence on how we feel about various things. In this case, I want to explain perception with help of pain (but it can also be translated into other areas of feelings). Pain is an unpleasant yet important function for survival; it’s our warning system. But not all pain is needed for survival.
Information brought from free nerve endings in the skin to the brain travel along two different systems:
1) Fast pathways - registers localised pain (usually sharp pain) and sends the information to the cortex in a fraction of a second. For example, you cut your finger with a knife.
2) Slow pathways - sends information through the limbic system, which takes about 1-2 seconds longer than directly to the cortex (longer lasting, aching/burning).
There are also different factors in pain perception that are not an automatic result of stimulation:
1) Expectations - Research has shown that our expectations about how much something will hurt can effect our perception.
a) Believing that something will be very painful helps us prepare for it.
b) Another example is the placebo effect, in that if we believe the pain has stopped, it may.
2) Personality - People with negative types of personalities often have more pain. For example, a very uptight person may experience muscle pains, back pains and so on.
3) Mood – Being in a bad mood, angry, unhappy and the like, can lead to the experience of increased pain.
In a study, the moods of subjects were manipulated and then they were asked to complete questionnaires of pain perception. Those in a negative-mood group reported significantly more pain than the other subjects.
In summary, it can therefore be seen that our brains are able to regulate, control, determine and even produce pain and any other feeling and perception. So be careful what you think and how you perceive things, and change the negative into positive.
For more information, visit Andrea Kellerman's website www.eq-advantedge.co.za or contact her office on 031 266 8563.
About the author
Andrea has studied Human Movement Science, Biokinetics, Psychology, Hypnotherapy and Neurofeedback Therapy, and works in schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and private practice. Currently, she is working in private practice in Westville and specialises in anxiety, depression, stress, concentration problems, insomnia, eating disorders and ADD/ADHD, as well as people who needed to stop smoking, lose weight and reduce phobias. She helps a lot of people to achieve their goals and lead a happier life. Furthermore, Andrea has helped many athletes to increase their sporting performance, achieving great success. Apart from counselling, Andrea uses hypnotherapy and neurofeedback to assist her clients.
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