Emotional Intelligence or “EQ”

First, we start off with a lesson on the origination of emotions:

The Amygdalas
-2 amygdalas, one on each side of the brain
-hippocampus and amygdala- gave rise in evolution to the cortex and neocortex (which is the limbic structures that do most of the brain’s learning and remembering)
A. the amygdala– specializes in emotional matters- “affective blindness” occurs when the amygdala is severed from the brain
1) lacking emotional weight- encounters lose their hold in memory
2) without amygdala- loss of all recognition of feeling
– loss of feelings about feeling
B. amygdala– psychological sentinel, challenging every situation and every perception with questions like: “Is this something I hate/fear? Is this something that hurts me?”
-if yes, the amygdala acts as a neural tripwire–telegraphing message of crisis to all parts of brain
*secretion of fight-or-flight hormones
*activates cardiovascular system, the muscles, the stomach
*emergency outpouring of norepinephrine–heightens activity in key areas of brain
(senses more alert, face turns to fearful expression, slows breathing, speeds b.p. and more)
C. Dr. Joseph LeDoux was first to discover key role of amygdala in the emotional brain
-(more later on brain/science results)
D. Brain has 2 systems for memory:
1) Hippocampus- remembers ordinary, dry facts
2) Amygdala- retains emotional flavor that goes with these facts
3) Amygdala- retains earliest of life’s experiences as rough, wordless blueprints of emotional life (earliest experiences with caregivers are critical to later emotional life)
4) Amygdala- responsible for “emotional mistakes” based on feelings prior to thinking

Neocortex- slower to respond because it involves more brain circuitry
A. Responses more considered, more judicious
B. When we think over what someone has just said or done and then get hurt or angry- neocortex
C. Emotional hijacking- involves 2 dynamics
1) triggering the amygdala
2) failure to activate neocortical processes that keep emotional responses in balance
D. the Prefrontal left lobe- the “off switch” for disturbing emotions
E. Prefrontal cortex region- responsible for working memory

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