Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

"Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person. That neural bridge lets us affect the brain-and so the body-of everyone we interact with, just as they do us." -- Daniel Goleman, from his new book, Social Intelligence. Source.

It's well known that an effective way to develop some part of ourselves is to connect with others on the same frequency. That's why support groups can be effective. It's high time that this powerful process were demystified and taken out of the realm of magic. How many people still believe that the boost they experience from recovery group participation has some kind of supernatural origin or requires a supernatural presence? Daniel Goleman, whose books on Emotional Intelligence displayed his gift for translating technical, scientific research into concepts that everyone can understand and use, goes at it again with this new book.

"Empathizing with a friend, whether in grief or elation, can activate the very same circuits in our own brains as in our companion's." The fledgling field devoted to studying this kind of interaction is called social neuroscience. Virtually all the research underlying this book was published in the past ten years, after the publication of Emotional Intelligence. I've sent away for a review copy and hope to post a longer discussion in the Booktalk section of soon. See also the item on mirror neurons, below.

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