Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our "trigger-happy zombies"

What if our brains were unable to automate the simplest activities? So every moment of every day was complex and confusing? What if every day we pushed the porridge up our nose at breakfast, or forgot how to clean our teeth, use our computers, drive the car or read a book? What if we had a Groundhog day every day?

Fortunately, thanks to the orchestration functions of our frontal lobes, especially the left, we are able to automate most functions involving thought and action.

Our brains routinely invent “kinetic melodies”, those automatic motor and speech routines that help us perform very complex and co-ordinated actions with little cognitive effort.

But sometimes this "trigger-happy zombie" does stuff for us we later regret, a fraction of a second before we become consciously aware of it.

We automatically lock the car with the keys inside. We blurt out words that wound or tell a truth we wish to conceal. We "mispeak" our accomplishments. We embellish a story with new details when swept up into the logic of the narrative. Or we make split second decisions that endanger the lives of others.

Without thinking about it consciously!

Here's a fun warm-up for a workshop:

What's the worst thing your "trigger-happy zombie" (your left frontal lobes) has done for you automatically and what were the consequences?

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