Monday, April 30, 2012

Lumosity for your Emotions?

According to a new book entitled The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley, everybody has six different emotional dimensions – much like the intelligence dimensions identified in my Lumosity program.
Instead of speed, memory, attention, flexibility and problem solving, according the authors our six emotional dimensions are:

Resilience: How slowly or quickly you recover from adversity.
Outlook: How long you are able to sustain positive emotion.
Social intuition: How adept you are at picking up social signals from the people around you.
Self-awareness: How well you perceive bodily feelings that reflect emotions.
Sensitivity to context: How good you are at regulating your emotional responses to take into account the social context you find yourself in.
Attention: How sharp and clear your focus is.

Is this relevant to us brain-damaged types?  Ask yourself this, “How quickly did you emotionally bounce back from learning that you had a brain tumor?” (Or some other equally ominous illness) “Have you been able to smile since your operation? Did you stand up and start yelling and screaming in the middle of a two-star, white-table cloth restaurant when you snuck a peak at your smart phone and learned that Derrick Rose tore his ACL?”

About now you might be wondering, as I did, how did Davidson dream up these six dimensions? (Was he at the restaurant?)

Or, since he’s a Professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, did Davidson come up with these six areas over some fine Wisconsin beers one night?  (Personally I like Central Water’s Mud Puppy Porter from Stevens Point.) While I can’t tell you that the idea didn’t start over a couple of cold ones, given that he’s a Harvard-educated neuroscientist and a professor of psychology and psychiatry, he’s verified these segments based on based on activity identified in specific brain circuits.

Happily, if you have a propensity for standing up and screaming in spiffy restaurants, these emotional styles can be altered. "We have the power," Davidson contends, "to live our lives and train our brains in ways that will shift where we fall on each of the six dimensions of emotional style."

This ability of our brains (personalities?) to learn to better mitigate bad news, or situations that make you want to scream, is good news.

What about other socially marginal behavior? According recent article by Heidi Stevens of the Tribune Newspapers, this research suggests that if you have troubles navigating a cocktail party of boors (or bores)”, your brain is malleable enough so that you can improve your ability to navigate, or maybe even tolerate, the boors (or bores).

To my ears, “boor navigating” sounds like a new Lumosity game ready to be written.

If you’re interested, check out Davidson interview on youtube:

And here’s a link to Ms. Stevens’ witty Tribune article about the book:

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