Secrets of the Stressed Out Brain
This fast-paced session by Heather Higgins was presented in an enthusiastic way that kept attendees engaged while learning about neuroscience in connection with stress. Stress, which is a normal part of life, can be helpful (performance enhancement; project completion), but is harmful when prolonged and not managed (dangerous situations; life crises). Stress can be managed, however, with exercise, meditation, social support, good nutrition and adequate rest being examples of techniques to combat negative impact. Heather used analogies that I can identify with: for brain areas such as hippocampus, UPS guy (tracks information); for amygdala, palace guard (watches for potential danger); for corpus callosum, Brooklyn Bridge (bridges two halves of brain); and for frontal lobe, learning to drive (controls judgment, understanding consequences, etc.). An important point made during the session, and one that needs to be considered when working with kids is that the frontal lobe is not fully developed until around age 25, so when kids don’t fully understand consequences, don’t use good judgment, or can’t stay organized, this fact must be kept in mind to better help them in the classroom or in life.