Monday, April 10, 2006

Emotional Brain - sapping my intelligence

It sounds encouraging to say that I’ve now got to the end of Part 1 of Emotional Intelligence; less impressive to say I’ve read the first 30 of 310 pages. So what has Alan in Belfast picked up?

It’s been a bit like a quick revision of Blink (which I reviewed earlier). Lots of content about the architecture of our brains: neuroanatomy, perhaps even neuroscience. There’s an explanation for how we can rapidly make an emotional response (perhaps fight of flight) via the amygdala, while the visual cortex does a bit more processing before it can rationally explain why we might want to react.

Interesting suggestion too that this leads us to have two memory systems:
“… one for ordinary facts and one for emotionally charged ones. A special system for emotional memories makes excellent sense in evolution, of course, ensuring that animals would have particularly vivid memories of what threatens or pleases them.”
But these emotional memories can be unreliable, as our environment may have changed, and the old reaction may no longer be appropriate.

Amongst colleagues in work, we often refer to beepilepsy: a condition affecting anyone who has been on a 24 hour support rota with a pager. As soon as they hear a beep, they perk up, look around to where the noise came from, and their heart starts pumping faster. On hearing a beep, they react as if it was a middle-of-the-night callout, even though they’re sitting in a cafĂ©, or at their desk. Particularly distracting for sufferers when they work in an open plan office surrounded by beeping devices.

But it's neither a fast nor a terribly enjoyable read. But despite Nelly's encouragement to give up in favour of something better, I'll persevere just a little longer. Part Two, here we come.

1 comment:

Andy Smith said...

The New Leaders, a later book by Goleman, is actually an easier read (published as Primal Leadership in the US).

Blowing my own trumpet a bit here, but I've reviewed some other books about EI and pulled some resources together on the Practical EQ Squidoo lens.

I liked that 'beepilepsy' thing and may mention it in my blog!

Best wishes,
Andy Smith