Dr. Andrew Huberman

How does our Brain Function? by Dr. Andrew Huberman

Article audio version

It’s very important for every one of us to understand how our brain works to be able to effectively use it and be more productive. Every action that we take that we conduct in our day to day life has a beginning in our brain. So let’s see what are the possible ways of tuning our brain to be more effective creative and much more productive than we are now.

An amazing discussion to learn & understand about the brain by Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Humberman on a podcast he explains how our brain functions. He explains it as follows:

Our brain helps us survive it’s our portal into trying to make sense of the world like what’s the starting point in the discussion around the brain. So the brain and nervous system which so it’s like the brain spinal cord connections with the body and back again. I don’t distinguish between the brain and mind I think that’s like an 80s discussion or earlier and I think it would take us down the wrong track so brain or mind to me is interchangeable mind-body is kind of interchangeable because the brain is connected to the body and the body is connected to the brain.

If you pinprick my hand and it hurts. My brain registers it where it happens it’s kind of irrelevant discussion I think we really need to just appreciate that the nervous system is designed to orchestrate all the processes in the body not just thinking and not just behavior and really can be divided into five things:1.

  1. Sensation
  2. Perception
  3. Felling
  4. Thoughts
  5. Actions
  • Sensation: the sensation is really bound or restricted by the receptors in the body so receptors in the eye that perceive photons light energy receptors in the skin that perceive pressure touch receptors smell taste hearing etc and the interesting thing about sensation and the fact that the nervous system needs to pay attention to sensation is it’s non-negotiable the nervous system of humans is designed to extract physical phenomenon from the universe that is non-negotiable photons of light I can’t see in the infrared with my eyes and I can’t see ultraviolet light with my eyes I can’t perceive that because I don’t have the receptors for it so you know other animals can perceive some of those things but that leads us to the next thing which is a perception
  • Perception: Perception is that which sensations are you paying attention to. so all the time you’re sensing things like right now your feet are sensing the contact with your shoes but you’re not thinking about until I say that and then you shift your perception so perception is like the spotlight so the brain wants to constantly bring in sensation non-negotiable what’s coming in it’s just depending on your environment.
  • Feelings: Feelings that can be a little bit nebulous but feelings are a link between our emotions and generally invokes. The body sensations in the body and concepts in the mind of what those sensations are about that’s really what emotions are animals definitely experience them. I’m kind of appalled to think that 10 years ago people like animals have a notion. Of course, animals have emotions right because those are bodily sensations merged with some perception so of course.
  • Thoughts: Thoughts and thoughts are interesting because thoughts happen spontaneously think about like a web browser that’s constantly giving you pop-ups but thoughts can also be deliberate so you and I can decide right now that we’re going to think about a plan for something or we’re going to think about what’s going on in the world so thoughts happen spontaneously and they can be deliberate and then the final thing is behaviors
  • Actions: Our nervous system is responsible for sensation perception feelings thoughts and behaviors and what’s interesting we start to think about that as you like okay that’s a lot but what is the nervous system really trying to accomplish like on any given day or at any moment what’s it trying to accomplish and it’s really trying to accomplish one thing which is to take perceptions of the outside world and merge those with perceptions of the inside world what we call interoception and to link those in a way that’s operating on an environment in the appropriate way.

So what do I mean by that so if I’m feeling anxious and I’m in a very calm environment I’m going to perceive that rapid heart rate and kind of feeling of agitation in my body as inappropriate for the moment right and my goal then as an organism is to adjust my level of what they call autonomic arousal or alertness down then I might feel that my level of alertness is appropriate for my environment so the nervous system is in this constant dynamic interaction with the outside world and trying to figure that out one way that this can be kind of conceptualized is there’s an emerging idea that’s kind of interesting about impatience. We’ve all had the feeling of being impatient some people are far more patient than others but if you’ve ever been in line at the store and you feel like something’s going very slowly you know the person in front of you is taking a long time they’re doing some returns you’re getting kind of impatient maybe you’re breathing in a mask.

The idea is that if you’re getting a certain frequency of pulses from your body and if those pulses are coming in quickly like you’re perceiving your yourself that interception quickly it’s like pulse pulse pulse pulse you’re going to be more geared towards your internal representation and then you’re seeing what’s going on on the outside world and it seems like it’s going very slowly but there are other times when you’re in line at the store someone’s getting some returns and you’re texting on your phone you’ve had a great day you had a great run your family’s in great shape and you’re fine why well the frequency of those pulses that interception is matched pretty well to your outside environment and so impatience is really when you’re in internal sort of metronome is not matched well to the external environment there are other times when you’re feeling like your internal metronome is and you got a million things coming at you through email or texting you got a bunch of things and you’re feeling overwhelmed and tired.

Well in either case there’s nothing right or wrong it’s just your body and your brain are trying to say what’s going on in the outside world how well matched am I to it right so if you think about some of the the sort of core practices of mindfulness and self-regulation of like focusing on breathing or focusing on on you know state of mind a lot of that is trying to bring more awareness to your internal state but what our brain is normally doing when our eyes are open and we’re interacting the world is we’re constantly trying to update our internal state to match external Demands and this harkens back to it you know like a really early design of all nervous systems which is how do you take an organism that needs certain things food water makes reproduction shelter how do you move that organism how do you create a system that will do that in best relation to the environment and so what mother nature is done is designed to assist a series of systems let’s just take agitation and stress for one if an animal or human is very thirsty feel kind of agitated might get up and get a drink of water if you’re very thirsty it can put you into a state of panic if you’re extremely thirsty and water is a limited resource you might even result the violence to get it or negotiation of some sort that you wouldn’t if you were calmer so that stress and agitation were designed to actually mobilize the body to take us in the direction of something that’s adapted so you can start to see these kind of core elements of what the brain and nervous system do sensation perception feeling thought and action and this constant challenge of trying to match our internal state to the external real estate the outside world and you start to see that the sensations that we call stress or impatience or calm are really the result of that those attempts that the nervous system is trying to perform.

Learn more on the discussion video here

Learn more about how to reprogram your brain to be more effective, creative & much more productive by taking this free course on upskillshare. Here is the course link.

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