FACTS ABOUT THE HUMAN BRAIN

Trial lawyers involved in persuasion and communication should study how the human brain functions. Here are a few facts to help us understand more about our brain. See the book Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain  by David Eagleman for a full description of facts and information

The Brain

The  brain is three pounds of  the most complex material we have discovered in the universe. This is the mission control center that drives the whole operation. Your brain is filled with neurons – hundreds of billions. Each one of these cells is as complicated as a city. Each cell sends electrical pulses to other cells up to hundreds of times per second. The cells are connected to one another in a network of staggering complexity. A typical neuron makes about 10,000 connections to neighboring neurons. This means there are as many connections in a single cubic centimeter of brain tissue as there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The Unconscious mind

Our brains run mostly on autopilot and the conscious mind has little access to the factory that runs below it. As Carl Jung put it,” in each of us there is another who we do not know” or as pink Floyd put it” there’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.” When we think about activities we are each is often interferes with the activity. In the poem, A Puzzled Centipede there are the lines: “A centipede was happy quite, until a frog in fun said, pray tell which way comes after which? This raised her mind to such a pitch, she lay distracted in the ditch not knowing how to run.”

In 1997 neuroscientists conducted research with the subjects connected to a device to measure nervous system reaction. They gave the subjects four decks of cards and asked them to that choose one card at a time. Each card represents a gain or loss of money. However, each deck was stacked to be either favorable or unfavorable. It took the subjects an average of 25 draws from the decks to realize which ones were good or bad for them. However, the autonomic nervous system demonstrated that the subconscious mind had already determined which the deck was better long before the conscious mind.

While you cannot access the unconscious brain you can sometimes get a reaction from it. For example when you cannot decide between two options flip a coin. Determine which option belongs to which side of the coin in advance. The important step is to access gut feeling after the coin lands. If you feel a subtle sense of relief by the outcome that’s the right choice. If instead you reaction struggling that probably is a cue not choose that option.

The Two Brain Division

The brain is best understood as a “team of rivals” the right and left brain have competing functions. The”trolley dilemma,” it involves a car on the main tracks out of control. Five workers are going to be killed but there is a switch that will divert the car to a different track for only one worker would be killed. What choice would you make? Now imagine the same situation. This time there is a large man standing next to you. If you push him in front of the train five workers. Would you do it? This is a contest between the rational and emotional parts of the brain.

The two hemispheres of the brain perform differently when they are connected and when they are separated. When connected the two hemispheres complement and enhance one another’s abilities. When separated, the two hemispheres function as two independent brains with unique personalities often described as the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde phenomenon. Our right hemisphere controls left half of the body and vice versa.

To the right hemisphere, no time exists other than the present moment. To our right mind, the moment of now is timeless. Our right mind is spontaneous, carefree and imaginative. It allows our artistic abilities for free without inhibition or judgment. The right hemisphere thanks in pictures and perceives a big picture of the present moment. Our left mine thrives on details and more details.

About Paul Luvera

Plaintiff trial lawyer for 50 years. Past President of the Inner Circle of Advocates & Washington State Trial Lawyers Association. Member American Board of Trial Advocates, American College of Trial Lawyers, International Academy, International Society of Barristers, member of the National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame & speaker at Spence Trial College
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