The moment we wake from a nights rest the brain ( you ) will start the day probably with familiar routines. Through out the day human nature and behaviour is often a sequence of small patterns and cycles of habits with some conscious but many unconscious thoughts. At the end of the day as we prepare to sleep with another familiar routine afterward we have a night of sleep cycles of patterns.
Reflection at the end of the day is a good practice to review the sequences of events we had experienced with some good and maybe not so good. During these reflecting moments we could think of better or different choices to make next time. In my journal for each day I have the title at end of each day called Reflections and Resolutions. Being human is part of life journey acknowledging our mistakes. Humanity often continues to make the same mistakes or even ridiculous choices and I include myself in that statement. This post will explain some of the mechanism why we don’t always make the right choices and that is what makes us human.
Basal Ganglia is part of the Limbic system in the brain and some of its functions are implicit learning and habit formation linked to behavior and emotions.
Cortex part of the brain functions include thinking, perceiving, producing, and understanding language. Most of the body information processing including sensory perceptions.
Theory of Expected Emotional Outcome EE0
In the prefrontal cortex the brain makes decisions what I call the analytical mind of Sherlock Holmes. Then Sherlock asked Watson for his input about an idea or choice and I will call this the emotional mind. Watson memoirs or past emotional experiences often include the irrational consequences are read out to Sherlock so they can take the necessary actions. This is the basal ganglia part of the brain communicating with the cortex. For example Watson remembers the lovely meal they had with Mariotti before they discovered he was an enemy of Sherlock. Watson convinces Sherlock by his emotional memory all the positive events they had during the meal so they can repeat the positive expected emotional Outcome with Mariotti. Now there a twist in the story. The memory of Watson and Sherlock the mechanism in the brain try to consolidate the stories they have accessed and recorded by confabulations by choosing meet enemy for a meal again.
Extreme cases of Confabulation is a neuropsychiatric disorder. Brain generates a false memory without the intention of deceit. The person believes the statement is to be honest The theory says the brain generates information as a compensatory mechanism to fill holes in one’s memories. We have all probably done it and called it a little white lie or slightly twist the meaning or miss important information out. We sometimes assume that our own choices were guided solely by the conscious explanations that we conjure, and reject or ignore the possibility of our own unconscious biases. Go back to our story of Sherlock and Watson, to avoid embarrassment or any other confabulations with another meeting with their enemy Mariotti Watson suppressed the memory or twist information that enemy is not an enemy but was a positive experience thinking it will be ok.
Habits become Patterns of Behaviour
Habits or behaviour models in the brain can be habitual and goal-directed control with different chemical messengers including serotonin , dopamine and other opiates that operate the reward and aversion systems. This is another layer how the brain operates in making choices.
The habits or behaviours can be explained as sequences of actions that have been pieced together through simultaneous cortical and basal ganglia loop system. When the brain is making predictions to create associations between cause and effect for best action result neurones are involved in the information processing that underlies motivation. Scientist call the sequences cognitive pattern generators that is organize by neural activity.
I have tried to simplify the complexity of human behaviour from a neurologist perspective with some psychology to help you understand that our patterns of behaviour is not as simple to identify and change. Next time someone says to you change an aspect of your behaviour or life style don’t be too hard yourself because its just not that simple. As you understand a little more about the biology of the brain is the first step in making better choices,