Friday, December 14, 2007


i just finished reading a fascinating book called 'the naked brain' by richard restak.  he argues that the relatively new science of neurology is shaping to radically transform our expectations and observation of society (or what he calls 'neurosociety').  he describes the common left hemisphere/right hemisphere analysis as dated and suggests a far more useful way of analyzing human behavior is to examine the different and complementary functions of the front and back of the brain.

anyway, i found his most interesting chapters looked at the profound influence we have on each others brains.  he argues that we effect each other at the most basic level and our 'mirror neurons' function in such a way that, "the neat division between you and me breaks down and we form a unit in which each of us is influencing the other's action at the level of imagination" (p.59). 

Wow.  is it any wonder the scriptures bang on about the importance of holiness and righteousness in our dealings with one another.  it's sobering to think that we can be having such a powerful influence with the moods we unleash on one another.  in fact, people who spend a lot of time together over many years (eg. spouses) even begin to look like one another - facial expressions are mimicked unconsciously and over time mirrored wrinkles and creases form on partner's faces.

another and related insight from the book was restak's argument that the human brain has a strong bias toward negative ideas and thoughts.  it is thought said bias is an evolutionary advantage - we are more ready for things that might injure or kill us if we are imagining the worst. 

it follows that if we are to be hopeful, creative, and joyful jesus-followers we will need to be very intentional about our thought-lives.  we're up against some seriously embedded neural-negativity.  no wonder becoming the vibrant, hopeful, loving people of God we want to be is hard work.  our brains are working against us  :)


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