ii) Concepts of Neuroscience

. The concepts of neuroscience (the study of the anatomy and physiology of the brain) and its integration with psychology (the study of human mind and human behaviour) can help explain why organisational change, etc is resisted and so difficult to achieve. For example, there are 6 parts to this

i) change is pain as it provokes sensations of physical discomfort. This is linked with

- the nature of human memory and its relationship with conscious attention. Working memory (prefrontal cortex) is where new perceptions and ideas are compared with stored information, ie trying to find linkages, associations, etc with stored information. In contrast, the basal ganglia is involved with routine, established activities and thus requires less energy than the working memory that fatigues more quickly and holds only a limited amount of information at any one time. The basal ganglia has been described as the habit centre of the brain. Therefore changing routines/habits, etc requires much effort and can result in people feeling uncomfortable.

- basic brain functioning ‐ the brain is very good at detecting the perceived differences between expectations and actuality, ie errors. These errors produce much stronger outbursts of neural firing than those caused by the familiar stimuli. These errors signals are generated by the orbital frontal cortex of the brain. It is connected to the brain's fear circuitry (amygdala), ie the sudden and overwhelming feeling or angry response (animal instincts take over). The amygdala and orbital frontal cortex will override the prefrontal region (which supports higher intellectual functions). In other words,

"...try to change another person's behaviour, even with the best possible justifications, he or she will experience discomfort. The brain sends out powerful messages that something is wrong, and the capacity of higher thought is decreased. Change itself thus amplifies stress and discomfort; and managers (who may not, from their position in the hierarchy, perceive the same events in the same way as subordinates see them) tend to underestimate the challenge in implementation..."

David Rock et al, 2006

ii) behaviourism has limited long-term application if it is based on incentive and threat (the carrot and the stick)

iii) humanism has limited application in engaging people if it is practised using an empathetic approach of connection and persuasion, ie person-centered approach. It assumes that self-esteem, emotional needs, and values can provide leverage to changing behaviour, ie

"...the implicit goal is to 'get the people on board' by establishing trust and rapport, and then to convince them of the value of change..."

David Rock et al, 2006

On the other hand, the human brain will be inclined to push back. Part of this phenomena is a function of homeostasis (the natural movement of any organism toward equilibrium and away from change). Furthermore, the brain is a pattern-making organ.

iv) focus is important as the act of paying attention creates chemical and physical changes in the brain, ie

"...concentrating attention on your mental experience, whether a thought, an insight, a picture in your mind eye, or a fear, maintains the brain state arising in association with the experience. Over time, paying enough attention to any specific brain connection keeps the relevant circuitry open and dynamically alive. These circuits can then eventually become not just chemical links but stable, physical changes in the brain's structure...... the brain changes as a function of where an individual puts his or her attention..."

David Rock et al, 2006

v) expectations shape reality as people's preconceptions have a significant impact on what they perceive as reality. An example of this is the placebo effect, ie

"...tell people that they have been administered a pain-reducing agent and they experience a marked and systematic reduction in pain, despite the fact they have received a completely inert substance, a sugar pill......people experience what they expect to experience......The fact that expectations, whether conscious or buried in our deeper brain centers, can play such a large role in perceptions has significant implications. Two individuals working on the same customer service telephone line could hold different mental maps of the same customer..."

David Rock et al, 2006

The dissatisfied customer could be seen as a complainer or as a person providing valuable feedback!!!!

Remember: for change to be effective, employees need to have ownership of it.

vi) attention density (the amount of attention paid to a particular mental experience of the specific time) shapes identity as repeated, purposeful, and focused attention can lead to long-lasting personal evolution.

"...the greater the concentration on a specific idea or mental experience, the higher the attention density..."

David Rock et al, 2006

For the following reasons, for insights to be useful, they need to be generated from within, not given to individuals as conclusions:

- by making the connections themselves, people will experience an adrenaline-like rush, ie a positive and energizing experience.

"...This rush of energy may be central to facilitating change: it helps fight against...... forces trying to keep change from occurring, including the fear response of the amygdala..."

David Rock et al, 2006

- everyone has a unique brain architecture

"...neural networks are influenced......by genes, experiences, and varying patterns of attention......it is far more effective and efficient to help others come to their own insights. Accomplishing this feat requires self-observation......With enough attention density, individual thoughts and acts of the mind can become an intrinsic part of an individual's identity: who one is, how one perceives the world, and how one's brain works. The neuroscientist's term for this is self-directed neuroplasticity..."

David Rock et al, 2006

- owing to the small capacity of the working memory, providing frequent and regular exposure to small amounts of information may be a better way of learning than large "brain dumps"

By some estimates (Caitlin Dewey, 2015) the average American consumes 5 times as much information now as he/she did 20 years ago, ie 100,500 words and 34 gigabytes daily (NB 34 gigabytes is equal to 2 times the memory of the entry-level iPhone). When you encounter new information, it stimulates your brain to produce chemicals like dopamine & norepinephrin. This makes you feel alert and helps you process the information. On the other hand, if you process too much information too quickly, like scrolling through information on the computer screen, you will burn up the brain's energy, and feel foggy, irritable, unproductive or angry. For example, around 20 tweets an hour is the most that most people can handle before their mental processing slows.

A little bit of stimulus improves attention but too much stimulus degrades attention

Remember: the brain is like a muscle and needs energy to operate

 

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