Executive Function & Emotion – from Boulder NIMH Conference

To quote The ReThink Group’s great intern, Clay Berry a senior at Rutgers, “The first speaker of the day, Luiz Pessoa from The University of Indiana, talked about “How do emotion and motivation interact with cognitive control?” Pessoa noted how the older notion of emotion and perception/cognition being two separate entities was becoming OBSOLETE.” (emphasis mine!)

As we like to say around here, we need to re-think thinking altogether and this is why.

The implication of emotions (and feelings in our parlance) being part and parcel of what we think of as cognition and most importantly, intellect, are profound. It means that everything you were taught about overcoming, suppressing and disregarding your emotions is in fact not only wrong but puts you in the position of fighting the way your own brain is working to perceive, judge and decide.

This makes the trick however to re-learn how you think and to re-learn how to use your feelings and emotions as data first. The urgency to act you feel with emotion may be something else altogether. Maybe it is the urgency of a fire alarm to pay attention to a valuable piece of insight that otherwise if set-aside, you miss. And then your brain just turns up the volume!

Other cutting edge scientists have been saying that the old triune model of the brain (the one you hear about in behavioral finance and economics btw) – the higher cortex, middle emotional and old/back breathing-heart rate is out-dated. This is more evidence. Don’t believe it when you hear that your regrettable behaviors happened because your higher brain was been hijacked by your middle or lower brain. We mistakenly used the computer as a model for the brain – and we would NEVER say that the central processor was hijacked by the memory would we?

The computer model is wrong (something more more akin to a very complex network might be right) but the important part is to re-think the reciprocal and integrated role for body/brain/mind/feelings and emotions. Feelings and emotions are and can be treated as a separate, distinct entity – one with valuable information. None of us at this point in history were taught to work with them that way but it can be done. When you understand it, you have the whole user’s manual!

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  1. Chris Pavelic

    Denise you certainly have a way with words. You are so right on
    with the way traders need to think. Let the markets dictate what is going on and follow your plan with your heart.

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