Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Frontal Lobe - Our Greatest Gift

Through evolution, we have been given a remarkable gift, the frontal lobe that sits at the front and centre of our brain, the most highly evolved area of the human nervous system. From its position just behind the forehead, this largest of four lobes of the neocortex serves as our control centre, filtering out interference, focusing our attention and quieting the storm that our centres of perception produce in keeping us connected to our outer and inner worlds. Many images of the human brain, as well as the language we use to describe how our synapses function, lead us to believe that the brain is a very unquiet place. The firing of millions of neurons and the brain is often pictured as functioning like a thunderstorm. Consider for a second, what you are doing as you read the words on this page. I hope that you are so drawn in by the concepts that your mind is quiet, that you are not aware of the chair you are sitting in, that the environment beyond the edges of the pages you hold has somehow receded into nothingness, that the sounds of traffic and other noises sounding from outside have all faded and that all you hear is the sound of your own inner voice sounding out the words on this page. Your frontal lobe centres your attention. The frontal lobe is also responsible for the choices you just made – to shift in your seat, to take one hand from the edge of the book to scratch your head. More than anything else, the frontal lobe is responsible for the conscious, wilful, purposeful intentional choices and actions that we undertake countless times each day. It is the home of the ‘true self’. Think of the frontal lobe as a conductor in front of an immense orchestra. It has direct connections to all other parts of the brain and therefore controls how the rest of the brain operates when it is functioning optimally. 

In the Zone
We’ve heard athletes describe the phenomenon of being in the zone, Michael Jordan talked about feeling that his shots simply couldn’t miss, as though the baskets were as big as a garbage can. The crowd noise, the other players on the court, even the very playing venue itself seemed to disappear. Nothing existed but ball and basket.
Most of us have experienced a similar occurrence, when what we’ve been working on becomes the only thing in our field of vision and all other sights and sounds disappear.  We move into the zone. We’re there only intermittently, but if we can learn to harness the reins of our attention and ability to be present, we can extend the length and frequency of our stays in the zone.
When a person’s focus is so single-minded and mobile that they can transfer all their attention from their identity onto a thought, action or object, their frontal lobe will filter out all of the random sensory stimuli in the environment. One hundred percent of their brain’s attention becomes centred on the relationship between thought and deed. Essentially, the person’s identity is no longer the self with a history, instead their new identity becomes the thought or the intention they are holding. Their mind becomes one with (unified with) whatever they are focusing on. The brain and mind are no longer firing the neural networks that comprise one’s baseline identity; they are not repeating the past at all. Mind is now in the best position to intentionally learn, create and perform a skill. The frontal lobe is that part of the brain that allows us to be completely in the present moment. 

Although they might not have known as much about the frontal lobe as we do today, ancient cultures, when crowning a great king, presented him with gold and jewels over this part of the brain, symbolizing that he had the mind to lead a nation. A peacemaker in times past would be crowned with a laurel wreath, placed over the frontal lobe to acknowledge his ability to resolve differences and to see through chaos. Similarly, when an athlete was celebrated with a laurel wreath over his forehead, this signified his mastery over his body and the environment. What is also wonderful about the frontal lobe is that it inhibits random behaviour (through a process called impulse control) so that our every thought doesn’t cause us to act without thinking about the consequences. One of the reasons teenagers are so impulsive is that the frontal lobe takes time to develop fully, in an article published in Nature magazine in1999, researcher Jay Giedd demonstrated that frontal lobe development continues throughout adolescence and into the mid-twenties. When we’re seeing teens, not only are we bombarded with a cascade of raging hormones, but we also lack the kind of impulse control that adults have – or at least, should have.  This accounts for why teenagers are so impetuous; their frontal lobes cannot hold the reins of the emotional self. The result is clear: they react before they think.
We can see how important the frontal lobe is in initiating and governing change and although the frontal lobe helps us focus on an intention, we still need to activate our will in order to let the frontal lobe do its thing – that is, unite intent with action. Commitment to change is always a tricky thing. Those regular, routine hardwired neural networks that we’ve created allow us to live a life that is easy, natural and comfortable.

Brain Harmonics will be able to pick up any disconnects in the frontal lobes and by playing your brain waves back to you as sound; your brain will correct the imbalances.
Imbalances in the frontal lobes will affect focus, concentration, learning disabilities, OCD behaviours, addiction, cravings, impulsive behaviours, add and adhd
Call us for an assessment to see how we can help you. 


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