This Changes Everything: Cutting Edge Brain Info

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Dr. Charles Parker Does it Again!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the Brain Based Resources Series

I promise that I’m not in Charlie Parker’s employ — we’re simply kindred spirits on the Learning to drive the very brain you were born with™ pathway, so I reference him A LOT!

So what did Parker do? He scooped me, as they say in the journalistic trade – publishing a story before this reporter could make it happen.

Usually out in front with the latest, his recent article — ADHD Insights: Glia Matters (subtitled, ADHD Evolution: Understanding the Other, Glial Brain) — includes an eighteen and a half minute video of a TED talk by PhD, Douglas Fields. Fields is the author of The Other Brain,  a book about a type of brain cell you probably haven’t heard a lot about up to now. But you WILL!

Cutting edge and right on the money where Brain-based Coaching is concerned, recent discoveries about glial cells point the way to a new frontier in cognitive neuroscience. Let’s see if I can catch you up a bit.

Neurons and Neuroglia

Science has believed for some time that the central nervous system consists of two main types of brain cells: neurons and glial cells [neuroglia]. Neuron-rich portions of the brain look greyish to our eyes because of capillary blood vessels and neuronal cell bodies — thus the brain’s nickname you have undoubtedly heard many times: “grey matter.

Since the heaviest neuron concentration is located in the cortex (that extremely shallow, wrinkly outer covering that was the last to develop in the human brain), many people expect to hear that brain cells are generally grey in color.  Nope!

Neurons – the building blocks of our “grey” matter – make up only about 15% of the cells that contribute to the structure of our brains.  As we move deeper into the brain, rich in neuroglia, white matter dominates (which actually, until it is preserved in formaldehyde, looks a pinkish white to our eyes.)

Athough glial cells dramatically outnumber neurons, it has long been thought that the two most referenced types of neurogia were primarily “support” structures. Their primary function, so we thought, was to protect the rest of the brain cells by adding structure (oligodendrocytes) and taking away waste products (astrocytes, or astroglia). Processing and cognition has long been associated with grey matter alone.

Recent research indicates that the brain cells making up our brains white matter (including their microglia buddies) have a whole lot more to do with a number of functions than was previously suspected.

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Are you OUT of your MIND?

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Reframing to Rewire (First in a series)
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Most of us take that “Are you out of your mind?” question to mean that we’ve just said or done something NUTS.  I want to stand that idea on its ear.

Image via Wikipedia

I think it would be FAR more powerful to use that phrase as a reminder to do exactly that: to GET out of our minds.

To “get out of our reactionary mind” so that we can align our actions with our intentions is more what I had in my mind, so let’s explore how we might begin to DO that.

For those of us with Executive Functioning Dysregulation, following one idea to completion is frequently an exercise in frustration and failure.

Metaphorically, our brains are rather like a tangle of string-like dendritic connections resembling a plate of cooked spaghetti.  

About the only way we can locate both ends of a single strand of spaghetti on a dinner plate is to lift it up out of the plate and away from the rest of the tangle.

After twenty plus years of investigating ADD/EFD and working with all kinds of EFD Challenges, I’ve come to believe that “getting it up and out of the plate for closer observation” is the most successful way to locate both “ends” of a single train of thought as well.

When that single-thought strand is left tangled with the other strands, we can become like Alice in Wonderland clones, looping around relatively aimlessly and getting ourselves into all sorts of odd predicaments.

Lifting that strand of spaghetti away from its tangle successfully is where the mere presence of another person makes all the difference in the world: an ADD/EFD-literate mentor, coach, or non-judgmental friend who can reframe our challenges simply by virtue of the fact that, from their vantage point, things don’t look so convoluted.

(More to come about that concept in a later post in this series)

Movin’ ON to the Rewiring

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