Posts Tagged ‘Neuroscience of Leadership’

NeuroLeadership Day 2: The Implications of Brain Based Leadership

October 31, 2008

The Platform: The NeuroLeadership Summit, 2008, NY, morning session

The Twitter: Chocolate, Sex and Bonding with Mommy light up the same area of the Brain!

The Big Idea: The Brain responds in a similar way to physical AND social reward.

The morning session of NeuroLeadership Summit, Day 2 was devoted to the questions concerning the brain and the social world, especially the implications of neuroscience for the field of leadership and leadership development. Looming before an unwitting audience of the keenly business minded were the scientific and ethical questions of reducing scientific research to “brain phrenology” and it worse, running with information that is only “partial” to create a new “trend.” Diane Coutou, senior editor at the Harvard Business Review came out strong as a critic of egregious and misguided entrepreneurialism — citing the skepticism neuroscientists have in reducing a still burgeoning science to brand and product.

While I applaud Coutu’s warning, one can hardly blame a smart, cosmopolitan audience for being attracted to the novel aspects of brain science, especially when we are told by scientists like Matthew Lieberman that bonding and social rewards have as much impact on the brain as chocolate or money in a (stable) bank. Lieberman, who runs a social neuroscience lab at UCLA, entertained the audience with FMRI studies, that tested neurochemical response to the pain and pleasure that comes in relations to playing social games and social group relations: Categories of interest:

The brain correlates to thoughts and feelings we have when we are left in or out of a game.

The brain correlates to thoughts and feelings we have when we are given an ultimatum, especially if the ultimatum hinges on “fairness”?

From Lieberman’s talk emerges a clear thought: If gaming (play) is the work of children, here we learn that childhood is our training ground for gaming in life.

Lieberman’s point: The Brain is designed for learning to engage in social groups, having social relations, for recognizing social pain and reward. He even went on to say that from the social neuroscientific perspective, the brain appears predesigned for social relations, especially if one considers the role early bonding plays in the basic physical survival of the human species.

Break Out discussions addressed the implications for both business and education. In the education session, Renee Rolleri offered a plea for a progressive brain aware, creativity model for education and discussed her own collaborative efforts in designing a new charter school, The BLUE SCHOOL which she co-founded with the members of The Blue Man Group!

More on implications later today.

Synaptically yours,

Dr. G.

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Neuroleadership Summit 2008: Quantum Mechanics Dates Neuroscience!

October 29, 2008

The Platform: NeuroLeadership Summit 2008: Opening Keynote Address

The Twitter: WOW!!!!!!Quantum Mechanics Dates Neuroscience and finds an attractive mate!!!!!!

The Big Idea: Attention Changes the Brain as understood from the standpoint of Quantum Mechanics….

Yawzaa! Talk about brain training for neuro-leaders at the quantum level!!!! The first night of the NeuroLeadership Summit 2008 in New York City has blown everyone’s mind with a turbo charged presentation by Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D., UCLA and his mentor, the visionary Quantum Physicist and Author Henry Stapp. Schwartz, who appears to nearly jump out of his skin with enthusiasm when speaking, uses baseball metaphors for delivering “fast balls” on the question of “attention” in Q.M.   Schwartz’s key point? Bringing neuroscience and Q.M. together in a unified field theory over-rides the inadequacies of Newtonian physics in coming up with plausible mathematical formula and explanation has to how we can observe and understand, with reasonable veracity, the movement of large bodies, like the human body.

The nearly two-hour presentation called for a deep deep think on the part of this observer and begs for a gorgeous visual map to point to the multiple vectors of interrelated ideas. Forgive me then, in this brief period of online time to outline the team’s main points concerning a new way to discuss neuroplasticity to an audience focused on the question of leadership, be it in business, education, government or related areas of human learning and enterprise:

1. The Marriage of Quantum Mechanics with Neuroscience: The marriage challenges the Newtonian model of physics, which leaves out the role of the observing agent, the agent that poses questions about the phenomenal world. In the Newtonian model, there is a purposeful blindness imposed upon the role the observer and his or her tools of observation play in influencing the inquiry and observation… hence, the Newtonian science of refutation and double-blind experiments.

2. The Role of Interactivity between the Observer and the Observed: The Neuro-Q.M. theory takes off the self-imposed empirical blinders and moves the question of information gathering and observation to address the interactive aspect of inquiry and observation.  In this model, interactivity between “the observer and the observed” helps to create the potential answer to the question posed. Sound familiar, somanauts?

3. Invoking Attention Density and the Executive Action Template create the conditions for interactivity of the observer with the observed.

Definitions first:

What is Attention Density? Distinct from “concentration,”  attention density involves repetition of attention, as in learning a new skill, like learning to swim, learning to read,  learning to eat only one piece of chocolate,  or even learning to recover from a stroke!

What is the Executive Action Template: This term refers to the executive functions — analytic difference detecting, syllogistic reasoning and decision making — correlated with activity in the Pre Frontal Cortex of the human brain.

Schwartz and Stapp argue for the role of the “impartial observer” — the observer who uses “attention” — and this is important —  specifically, the repetition of attention plus the engagement of intentional executive action to pose questions in an interactive fashion with the phenomenal world and thus discover/create a possible answer to the questions posed.

In other words, for Schwartz and Stapp claim Attention Density and Executive Action are said to be the two determining factors in creating the conditions for the impartial observer and the conditions for the moment probability collapses into a unit of possibilty or “an answer.” Now there is a complex Q.M. theory of how this actually works and I’ll leave it to you dear readers to start doing your own interactive search to learn about the necessary correlation between “attention density” and the “collapse function” in Q.M.

The implications for Neuro Leaders? Schwartz and Stapp point to a radical and “rational” rethinking of leadership and organizational systems models by suggesting:

1) The lessons of neuroplasticity: One can now acknowledge the fact of neuroplasticity — the brain creates the mind and the mind creates the brain — and how it is generated and conditioned by asking questions, by being curious, by the act of paying repeated attention, by making inquiry, by learning and sharing information;

2) Bottom Up Flow of Information: By recognizing the Neuro-Q.M. theory of probability, one can begin to value bottom up information flow.  Workers are not mindless cogs in a machine but rather brain/mind attentive information “workers.” (To better understand the bottom up theory of info flow, check out Steven Johnson’s EMERGENCE: a great study for neuro leaders who wish to take lessons from developing ant colonies, developing cities, developing brains and open systems software practices!)

3) Neuro leadership is hall-marked by invoking a brain based/quantum understanding of the role of attention, interactivity and decision-making in all aspects of human performance.  The Schwartz/Stapp model encourages us to take seriously the interactive possibilities of the brain in relation to the interactive possibilities posed by the use of our other research tools, be it a gene splicer, a sub-atomic particle accelerator.

There is so much more to say but time is running out. Let it be noted that the ghost of dualism clearly plagued the presentation as did the mechanistic semantics of Newtonian physics, e.g., Stapp referring to humans as machines.

‘Oi Vey.’ I will take that one on in another blog.

More tomorrow. Until then, attentive breath be with you!

Dr. G.