Category Archives: Evidence based Neuroscience

The Neuroscience of Leading through POOR performance?

Have you ever thought why you feel happy and excited even with the thought of having a cup of coffee? Or why you feel happy with the thought of having a go flying in the evening with your best friends and champaign? Do you get tempted to just buzz in and savour some sweets at one go when passing by a mouth watering Sweets shop. Well in the language of psychology this behaviour is called as craving. Craving gives us ecstasy even with the thought of indulging into a habitual behaviour. Craving gives us the happiness before we indulge into the real or actual act of physically exposing our body to that particular stimulus. When for a substantial period of time we practice a particular behaviour be it smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol or getting up early in the morning and going for exercise or having certain type of food, we form particular habits. Craving drives our habits. Though drugs form dependence later on, at the initial phase any habit formation follow this Loop CUE, CRAVING, ROUTINE and REWARD.

We have discussed in our previous post that habit formation requires three basic ingredients namely a cue, a routine and a reward. But when you continue a certain behaviour for a long period of time the reward which initially comes at the end starts coming immediately after Cue. That means the happiness is already experienced before actual act. We understand from this discussion is that it is not only cue and a routine and a sense of the accomplishment associated happiness that helps us form various behaviours or habits, it is also the craving for that particular moment that solidifies those habits in us. Craving repeatedly invites us into the execution of our those behaviours. Examples: It is the THOUGHTS of endorphin rise and the happiness felt therefore after exercise is the motivation behind exercising. It is the preemptive FEELINGS of euphoria after taking a particular drug like caffeine or alcohol that creates a craving. Craving is FELT in thoughts and  is powerful to drive actions, when repeated in autopilot are called as HABITS.

Having understood how habits form and how they are persistently driven now the challenge is to understand how do we change habits.

Let’s take the example of Indian cricket team during Greg Chappell’s coaching period. It is known to everyone today that Greg Chappell as a coach almost destroyed a very well knit Indian cricket team. Out of many new habits good or bad, those were formed during this period of anarchy one we could discuss is when the players used to go to the net for practice. There were cues. The cues were the alarm clock in the morning, or the call from other colleagues, or all the habituation of the players since very long, of getting up early, putting the shoes and tracks and moving towards the field.

Now look at the changed routine during Greg’s time. Previously these same players used to look at each other as synergistic contributors. But under the coaching period of Greg Chappell these bunch of legends started looking at each other as  competitors. A competition to stay in the team by overpowering the other. People started focusing on individual records. Team went south. There always lurked the risk of loosing out from the team. Many legends were temporarily destroyed during that time like the Ganguly’s. These players started guessing every morning who’s from who’s camp! From the coach’s camp or from the captain’s camp. Whom they could trust sharing their feelings and whom to not. There were massive ideological differences between the captain and the coach. All these gradually divided the team into fragments of nonperforming individuals. This was the CHANGED routine from the previous base line routine that took away the element of CRAVING for team performance from each players psyche. Though the reward for habit formation was high: only to remain fit and retain post in the team that too just to hang on there.

The changed ROUTINE changed the performance of the team India. They lost their chances in the qualifiers during the World Cup in 2007. After a lot of brawl between the coach and the captain the board took a decision to Fire the coach under media pressure and even public pressure. A new coach Gary Kirsten took over. He got a team which was no more a team but a bunch of devastated, demoralised, dissociated individual players.

Gary’s primary goal was to built trust and respect for talent in each of the morally down legends of the team. Don’t forget the likes of Sachin, Saurav, Dravid, Laksman, Jahir Khan, Harbhajan all were a part of that team. There was no dearth of talent or potential. There was a need to change the habits of the team members. Habits those developed in those years of highly polarised political environment were mistrust, nonperformance, low self esteem, procrastination, passing the buck, instability, indiscipline and shaken beliefs on the entire system. Goals were invisible, misty and murky.

Through many scientific research by that time it was well established that when you try to change performance of people you don’t alter the CUE neither alter the REWARD but alter the ROUTINE leg of the Habit loop. Particularly this formula is very popular  among the coaches who coached big football teams or cricket teams or any other teams who play international standard games. Sporting psychology explains it better.

So what did Gary Kirsten do?

He did not change the cues or the rewards. They all remained the very same. Kirsten only targeted Routines of the team. He established himself as an enabler and not a destroyer. He established that he was not an administrator but a facilitator. He restored TRUST among team players and recreated that respect for each other’s capabilities. He became a dependable bridge to communicate between team and board. He respected talent in the team. He set fitness and performance as the only  yardsticks in being in the team not mere age or previous performance. Team players started looking at each other as performance partners and not competitors. A lot of synergy flew in immediately with the trust flying in. This lens of looking at their own performance had put the focus back on self performance rather than the external environment. Threat was abolished. Practice sessions became fun. Gary himself became the CHEER LEADER of the Team India. Soon came back CRAVING to go out there in the field and perform for the team. Self esteem was restored. This Gary’s team ended up winning the mighty World Cup in 2011.

So what do the leaders who almost always COACH, should do in getting the performance back on the track out of ruckus? Well research recommend that they should not try and CHANGE the performance by trying to change everything at a time. They may rather only change the HABITS of their people. In the habit loop of CUE, CRAVING, ROUTINE and REWARDS change only the ROUTINE, HABIT will change as an effect! Positive Performance will just follow as the outcome.


This article is written by Rajesh Bhattacharjee,  a Harvard  Extension School Alumnus,  Psychology. He is a technical Coach and a Leadership trainer.

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Which of the socks you put first, left or right?

Which side of your face you start with while making your shave every morning? After taking a shower which pattern you follow in wiping your body with the towel? Is there a left first or right first kind of a pattern when you brush your teeth? How do you light your cigarettes , lighter in left or right hand? After entering the grocery mall every month for your monthly picks which corner of the mall you start with? What time your sleep breaks in the morning everyday? How do you sort and put your clothes into washing machine daily? How do you put those masalas in the mixer grinder machine everyday while cooking? Which of the sock you put first, left or right? You put on your trouser or shirt first while grooming yourself for the office? How you park your car in the garage every evening? What road you take for your morning walk every morning? How do you travel to your work place every day? How you tie your Tie knots? How do you indulge yourself into physical exercise everyday? How do you practice music on a particular part of the day – everyday? How do you develop a particular eating HABIT and a routine lifestyle?

Do you really even pay much attention while performing all these daily tasks on a routine basis?

These endless list of repetitive daily activities make our day, everyday! After attaining a particular age and mastery in accomplishing such tasks we don’t really engage our brain much in making those mundane decision in performing through these activities. Rather these activities are performed in individualistic formats repeatedly everyday on autopilot. If you recall or observe how you perform a particular task every day you may not be surprised when you find that there is a repeated pattern of your actions in accomplishing such day to day tasks.

These are our habits. Habit formation is an ancient neuro biological process or tactics of our brain that enables brain to conserve energy and concentrate on a decision making process that is more important at that particular time putting routine works on autopilot. Brain at that time rather engages on doing something more worthy when you are on autopilot. Remember synchronising your speech while driving to office or recalling lines of a song while cooking? It has been scientifically now observed and documented that habits manifest even without interacting with memory.

The person I am going to talk about here is one of the most famous patients in the history of medical advances. EP as he was popularly known as was Eugene Pauly. He was a patient who had lost his memory to viral encephalitis as the infection damaged his hippocampus, a part of the brain that stores information as memory. Every 30-40 seconds he used to get a complete cleaning of his memory slate. He failed completely to store any new learning as memory. Every 30-40 seconds he would introduce himself to his attending doctors. Have multiple meals, ask repeated questions to his wife though been answered several times. Looking at his growing body weight his team of doctor researchers advised his wife to take him for morning walk everyday. After a while his wife noticed that Eugene goes for morning walk alone and not only that he even comes back home sits on his chair and switches on the TV. He does them unconscious and without being aware that he was doing it. Almost instantaneously he used to forget everything about the entire episode of going out and walking and coming back home. This incident surprised the researchers and made them curious enough to understand that habits can be develop without help from memory. And ultimately led to the discovery that if memory lies in the hippocampus habits are stored in a different location in the brain called basal ganglia. They are formed out of repeated practice of a particular task over and over again. Doctors asked Eugene to draw his morning walk route map or tell the address of his house which he could never answer. Confirming habits are independent of memory.

This has led to the understanding that habit has a loop for it’s formation. It needs a cue to start a routine to follow and after all a reward to enjoy the outcome and motivate repetition of the action. Let’s think about Eugene. His cue for morning walk was looking at the outer world, routine was following the same routes, passing by the same trees, taking the same curves every day. His motivation was bringing some souvenirs for his wife like some fresh flowers.
Let’s think about brushing teeth everyday. Cue: bad smell. Routine: toothpaste and brush on display everyday and the actual act of brushing. Reward: Beautiful Shiny smile that adds to Confidence. This habit loop is universal and is followed in every single habit formation. Though Eugene had forgotten essentially all memories about his recent past he exhibited those habits like getting up from bed in the morning and going to the washroom and flushing the toilet after use. However he could never tell someone where in his house was the washroom.

Habits are our universal accompany. We don’t take birth with but we make them in our lifestyle. We compose them with effort, conscious or subconscious. We have our own sleeping habits, eating habits exercising habits addictive habits and cognitive habits. Cognitive habits are nothing but the way we think about incidences and people around us.


This article is written by Rajesh Bhattacharjee, a Harvard Alumnus, Psychology. He is currently a technical Coach and a Leadership trainer. You may reach him at

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How Habits Put Our Brain on Autopilot

One of the important activities of the brain is converting certain day to day activities into habits. Brain does this to save or conserve energy in doing mundane or routine works of day to day life. How the habits form? Habits form through continuous practice and learning.  But there is something beyond this layman understanding. And in particular when we learn or practice a particular thing repeatedly for a prolonged period of time that information gets stored at a specific location in the brain to form habits. Question here is why we repeat certain behaviour and not certain others.

Since a long period of time neuroscientists and behavioural scientists and the psychologists have researched to understand where exactly the habits or the information about habits are stored in the brain. Initially it was thought that information about habits were stored in the same area where memory is stored. However certain dramatic studies in the field of neuroscience and cognitive psychology have revealed that long term memory and habits are not stored in a common place in the brain. For that matter hippocampus, one of the ancient most internal structures of the brain, is the area where memory is stored. In various medical studies with patients who lost their hippocampus either in accidents or to viral encephalitis where observed doing well with their old habits though their recent memory was erased along with damaged hippocampus. Also it was found that they even retained their ability to forming new habits.

This had posted a big question in front of the neuroscientists that if the hippocampus was gone then where did the habit formation happened in the brain. In this quest of finding this highly specialised zone scientists found out that it is the basal ganglia where information about habits get stored. It was further confirmed through many experiments on mice where they have confirmed that with damaged basal ganglia mice failed to form new habits.

It is our habits those put us on autopilot in performing many day to day activities in our life without even thinking about them. Habits save the activities of the brain to perform ‘repeat works’ and allow it to concentrate pinpointed on what is important at that point of time. Brain engages then into all kinds of complex decision-making activities of life without thinking much about routine works of life. Examples could be taking your car out or putting it back into the garaged or brushing teeth every morning or going to the kitchen and opening the door of the refrigerator finding something to eat getting up early morning and going for Yoga and many other such activities. Habits good or bad are stored there in the basal ganglia. Bad habits like not getting up early in the morning, not going for physical exercise, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes et cetera are also formed with the same effort that we put in to develop good habits. And therefore changing our habit whether good or bad is very challenging and tough. It takes a good deal of effort to do that or achieve a change from the current.

So the point of discussion here is to help children develop good habits.  So good habits like getting up early in the morning, saying good morning to parents, studying regularly at a particular time in the day, getting involved in to physical activities, developing good hand writings, eating healthy food, sleeping at a particular time or maintaining a sleep cycle, learning music, washing hands, keeping house and belongings clean, being courteous to others, respecting others and being empathetic to others, being helpful and many more are the habits those may be formed during early childhood. Through continuous practice these good habits may be ingrained into the basal ganglia.

The mantra is arranging for a Cue – following a Routine- and realising the Rewards for adopting a particular behaviour which would be converted into a habit through repetition of the behaviour. Cues are the triggers for adopting a particular behaviour. Routine is the continuous repetition of the behaviour within the same environment.  And Reward is the benefits or enjoyment out of the behaviour. We as parents need to just make sure that this sequential pathway is provided per every habit to our children. And so parental leadership is about living those habits  those we would like our words to adopt. It is tapping the power of silence. Teachers, leaders are you already practicing this model? Behaviours are formed early in the age specially from eight months of age in the mothers womb to about three and a half four years. so providing the right atmosphere for expression of behaviour in the early age is very very crucial. However any such behaviour when repeated regularly, routinely over a period of substantial amount of time, that behaviour turns into habit. And this can be developed at any age.

Habit is the Bass Guitar, only loud enough to feel in a song. But immensely enhancing the performance of our life.


This article is written by Rajesh Bhattacharjee, a Harvard Alumnus on Psychology. He is a technical coach and a leadership trainer. You may contact him at

Leaders of Small Things – 1

Limbic system is the area in our brain where sits our emotions. Prefrontal cortex is the region where sits our operating memories. Behavior and ability to make decisions also sit in there.  Hippocampus is the area in our brain where sits our long term memories. Alas!  There is no zone in our brain called as Leadocampus where would sit our neurons for leadership behaviour.

So there are no born leaders. Leadership is a skill learnt. If you agree to this proceed reading the rest else you may press the back button and eject out of this cockpit.

Challenging personal early environment situations were the architectural blueprints of many unforgettable leadership sagas of the world.

Mahatma Gandhi or Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose or Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela or Barak Obama or Narendra Modi, one thing that strings them together is the socio political challenges they faced in their early life periods. They were all common men but made to uncommon leaders – by themselves. They were all me too individuals who delt with common crisis uncommonly.

They took either the assertive,  or the aggressive or arrogant or audacious ways to handling issues of injustice and inequality.  Where a major chunk of people would normally keep mum frightened of poorer consequences if  raised voice, these people have travelled and played around with more number of wins to their records than

 Presenting a testimonial epic. Completing his studies in England he joined a contractual job for an year in South Africa. It was early 1893. At that period racism was at its pick in SA.  Rights of human was divided unequally between so called whites and Indians. A law called as racial segregation rule was in act. June 7, 1983 this young short heighted lightly built man when boarded a first class compartment of a train was pushed down on ground at Pietermaritzburg. Defeated but not perished this young man raised up and moved mountains without a single incidence of violence later on in his life. He forced the SA government to bring legislation and amend a few keeping in mind the rights of the Indian labours there. That was the beginning.  Rest we know him as MAHATMA GANDHI.

Leaders aren’t born as leaders but are being crafted to one by their very own thoughts and initial experimentations with truth. They become addicted to causes. They gain faith on themselves when they believe that the cause for their actions are defined and unalterable.

They give power to people and get it back even without asking for it when needed. They create followers not slaves.

Later on when Gandhi moved to India and fought for its freedom British government had put him in jail many occasions. But every time had to release him due to follower pressure.

True Leaders don’t focus on creating followers, instead followers give birth to Leadership. Before Big Leaders were big they were leaders of small things.

The whole brain is involved in cushioning the leadership attributes and not any particular compartment of the brain.  Through thoughts,  actions, experience and learnings  leadership neuro connections are born all across the brain and a leader is made to be.


This article is written by Rajesh Bhattacharjee, a Harvard Alumnus on Psychology. He is a technical coach and a leadership trainer. You may contact him at

Leaders of small things – 2

Early 1916, an incident rocked not only Calcutta but the  entire country shortly after its occurance. An English professor Prof. E F Oaten was beaten by a group of Indian students within the Presidency College premise. His mistake was he frequently exhibited racial behaviour in the class. Once he was recorded saying “The Indians should admit and accept the simple fact that the British is ruling India because they are morally superior to the Indians, and a frank admission of this position would do away with a great deal of mutual misunderstanding”. This statement invited this real trouble for him.

Those Indian students were expelled from the college of this British ruled India’s capital city. The leader of the mob was identified as a brilliant student in the college named  Subhas Chandra Bose. That was the first ever exuberance of patriotism from this great Indian soul. Yes this was his beginning.

After being rusticated from the college he got about one and a half years of time to organise groups of students for social work. In 1917 his rustication was revoked and again he got admitted in Scottish Churches College of Calcutta and graduated from there with a first class in Philosophy. He went to London to crack the ICSE (Indian Civil Service  Exam). He cleared it but refused to work under British Government. He did that as a part of his plan announcing his fight against British.

His rustication and refusal  of highly prestigious ICSE position made him a natural choice and a popular leader, very quickly.

We know his later life that he initially galvanised a huge support from Germany and then from Japan and established a huge Army force called INA – Indian National Army. He played a major role in India’s fight for FREEDOM. In fact very less known is the fact that he was the first prime minister of free India, of Japan occupied Andaman and Nicobar islands province for a very short period of time.

Leaders aren’t born as leaders. Leadership is a Choice. Leadership is born when Common people handle common situations uncommonly. Exhibition of courage comes from those neuronal connections of fearlessness. Those connections start forming during, and get consolidated after, each small strugles and wins.

Big Leaders are first leaders of small things.


This article is written by Rajesh Bhattacharjee, a Harvard Alumnus on Psychology. He is a technical coach and a leadership trainer. You may contact him at

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Passion, Patience, Perseverance and leadership

A fine morning a mother opened a baby food tin to prepare a serving for her 6 month old baby. To her shocking surprise she found a dead butterfly in the sealed tin. She screamed and screamed well. The news became viral in local newspapers within no time. Manufacturer denied any responsibility doubting pretention of the incidence and also questioning evidence for the insect been found in a sealed tin. No snag was found whatsoever in the quality control procedures following consequential investigations. However the sales of this particular brand nosedived in 6 adjacent states of India. Within next few months almost all the distributors denied to keep any stock owing to very low demand from end users in the region.

The brand died. 2 years later the manufacturer launched a new team and a new sales manager joined the company in that region. In charge of those 6 states this new guy was not aware of this two years old story. He approached distributors to book orders along with his teammates. But then everyone denied placing any order for the particular brand. He came back to local office and asked the branch manager about the matter. The branch manager then made him aware of this 2 years old story and sincerely advised him not to focus on this brand but on other products of the division. That very night the manager spoke to the national sales head. Even the he echoed the same and advised him not to focus on baby food range and build other brands in the region. Manufacturer was convinced that the baby food range was a “DEAD BRAND” in those states.

But this sales manager who’s a local guy from the region asked himself a question “how come I do not know anything of such a big incidence?”.

Next very day he announced to the national sales head “Boss we are going to make the baby food range a big one in my region”. NSH was in denial but surprised. This manager decided but. He started exhibiting a lot of passion to make the baby food range a big one. Slowly and passion and patiencegradually the passion exhibited by the manager infected everyone in the team. Everywhere he went he showcased an urgency to establish this infant food range.  The entire team started meeting pediatricians of the region and exposed the brand to them as many times as possible.  Pediatricians would ask questions about the incident but every individual had one answer- with a big honest smile they would say “Doctor that was our past, let’s try the present”. No denial, no altercation, no apology but pure assertion. Data presented, evidence of quality presented, continuing medical educational programs arranged in small groups, chemist shop displays been made, etc. But most important of all – the team presented bagful of confidence and passion for the brand to the potential patrons. Emotional and rational appeals were made to the trend setters. The entire team had projected a huge degree of patience and perseverance along with passion towards reaching the Moms (through doctor’s and chemist’s endorsement) with the benefits of the brand.

Slowly, very slowly a few of the prescribers started endorsing the brand while advising mothers on breast milk substitutes. Demand reached chemists and subsequently to the distributors. Few tins, about a 100 a month, started moving in 6 states, here and there. But for the manager these 100 tins were not less than a thousand, psychologically.

1 year of passionate display of eager had shown the team success. A year later the team clocked a sales of about 800 tins a month. Which by the end of next year touched 8 thousands tins a month. That was in 2003. Today the brand is a household baby food brand and can be found in every chemist shop in those 6 states. Not only that the brand is now available even in grocery shops and supermarkets. It’s a mega brand for the manufacturer too. One man’s passion changed complexion of a story.

No earth shattering marketing strategies but pure passion of sales team revived a brand, against all odds. Later on the manager investigated by interviewing the older sales representatives about the debacle. He could find that the butterfly news affected the failure is not tryingpsyche of those older sales people more than anybody else in the market. Whereas, ignorance of the incidence helped the new team and the manager to believe that – this news was hyped out of proportion by the local sales team more so within the organization than in the out. They were tired and clueless attending doctor queries. They gave up first before the mothers stopped feeding the brand or doctors stopped endorsing it. They believed that was the end of the brand and asserted that it would be a big waste trying to revive it. They tried to face the heat but only burnt their fingers. They all failed to rise from the ashes as they lack resilience killed by fear.

The take home of the case is that it’s the degree of passion and the resultant determination of a sales team that either mars or Builds BRANDS across industries. At the same time a leader has to be a sublime character who keeps away from snatching credit rather is generous in giving it away. A leader who is verbally silent and loud in action, steers team through exhibited behavior. People follow him as the moon follows the earth. It’s natural. They don’t focus on the development of this force, it occurs naturally to them. A leader’s relentless conviction to possibilities clears off cloud from the mind of followers. They start believing on the possibilities. They then together make possibilities come real.

A leader’s constructive thoughts thus are the biggest assets of an organization, pessimism – the liabilities. A good orator may win psyche of common men and become a minister. But to become a true leader one needs to win the hearts of followers. And there it takes a leader’s ACTIONS.  Effective leadership is about exhibiting passion and acting on it. This action galvanises inspiration to achieve the unachievables. Passion, Patience and Perseverance move mountains.


This article is written by Rajesh Bhattacharjee, a Harvard Alumnus on Psychology. He is a technical coach and a leadership trainer. You may contact him at

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Behavior is the colourful embroidery on canvas of life

Nature gives us the body and the brain, nurture gives us the mind and behavior. We are the products of our genes and our environment. We are the builders of our own phenotypes.

Since J Mark Baldwin there had been plenty of research in the field to prospectively look upon the environmental influences on phenotypeconstruction of our mind. The generic genetic template called as Genome comes from our parents but we shape these genes through our own life experience. Our early life interaction with environment thus plays a very crucial role in shaping our behavior. A study published in Behavior Genetics, Vol 34, No 4, July 2004 has evaluated influences of genetics and environment on social cognitive skills and conduct problems in children. To be able to get most reliable data they did this trial on a number of twins.

Conduct problems manifest in children through aggressive behavior, lack of empathy statisticsand low frustration tolerance. Poor social cognitiveskill is one’s inability to interpret social cues of others. Most often this is followed by an inappropriate behavioral response. So poor cognitive skill manifests in children as externalizing disorder. What they have found in the study was that – though conduct problems and cognitive skills are affected by both genetics and environmental influences, cognitive skill is significantly influenced by environmental influences. Even among twins different brought up atmosphere nurtured different behavioral attributes.

When we talk about those environmental influences we consider – changing family structure due to divorces and separations, military job, punitive parenting, domestic violence, toxic neighborhood or war conditions, severe neglect, stereotype threat, toxic stress at school etc.

How can you measure if your child or student or subject has any of these  behavioural issues ?

For poor cognitive skill – observe for the followings:

childTo what extent a child has difficulty with social situations for example lacking an understanding about others feelings, unaware of social behaviors those are acceptable, fails to understand body language, hurts or offends people with their behavior unknowingly.

For conduct problems- observe for the followings:

conduct problemOften has hot tempers and throws tantrum, generally obedient, usually keeps requests of adults but frequently fights with other children, bullies other children, lies, cheats, steals from school or home.

What is more bothering is that children with conduct problems have poor performance on test of social cognitive skill. Remedy? Well let’s check our own behavior, quality of our relationships, our social values and the environment that we provide or create for our children, the atmosphere at schools or playgrounds. All these have profound contribution to the  design in the embroidery.

Silently but surely the progenies of the world are getting trained at home, in schools and on play grounds. The parents, teachers and trainers, are the influencers. We are the environment that we are talking about.

During the very early phase of our life (from the last trimester of pregnancy to about 4 years of age) such environmental triggers design behavioral embroideries on our inherited genes. Genes express the way the environment is around. Our behavior is shaped accordingly in tune with the triggers.

Teachers, parents, trainers who are guides by the sides, free the genomic interplay to go and experiment with the unseen and make discoveries. This sets the genes free for fearless expressions.

On the other hand, Teachers, parents, trainers who are sages on the stages, they shout “follow the guidelines and do it as I say”. This approach boxes individuals and their innovations with aggression and frustration in the same cage. This puts the genes under stress and suffocation.

What do you give to your child, fearless expressions or stressful suffocations? THINK!

caring the genes

Behavior is embroidery on the genomic cloth that we wear. Parents, Teachers and Trainers are the craftsmen. 


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Evolutionary Psychology

Behavior Genetics

Psychology of Stigma

During my childhood I had a private tutor who was not a tutor but a torture, a big one. He physically tortured me for my non performance. Hit me with bamboo sticks and yelled at like a ferocious wolf . I frequently had physical injuries like bruised face or bleeding palms. 6th to 10th standard, angry teacherslowly and gradually I had lost my interest in academics. I’d scored less in my class tests and finals. My parents were not sensitive enough to pick that up and could not isolate the reason for my non performance. So they blamed me and continued with the tutor (torture). It only brought devastation in my early childhood. He used to come home every evening. Other than preparing for home works a sense of disinterest and fear used to grip me. You may thus appreciate that my childhood evenings were living nightmares.

Very soon I was boxed. I could not follow if anyone taught anything in person without repeating. As in my mind I carried a kind of a belief or fear that I won’t understand and if I ask question he or she may get angry. This sense of fear adversely impacted my ability to concentrate and clarify.

However when I was in my 9th standard my father hired an excellent teacher who kind of changed my perspectives through care, fun and LOUD laughter. He made my studies fun and I started doing well. My father being a Forester always stayed away from us in his forest offices and we were in the village. So probably his intervention came a little late. But he was a wise man.

Look at this now – my younger sister was my company for that earlier torture as we both took early childhood adverse experiencetuition together. She was boxed too, and a belief gripped her that she won’t. She had tough times completing her secondary studies. Eventually she gave up there. But if you talk to her you will find she is full of fun and commonsense. She was not with me with the second fun loving teacher. Probably that’s a double blind control trial if I may claim it about the impact of TOXIC STRESS in childhood and its impact on learning. I survived coincidentally.

Today I learn the most by self readings, observations and research. I cannot grasp comfortably when someone explains me something once. I need repetitions. I find my story exists in thousands of schools in my country in the form of PUNITIVE method of teaching. These frightened and timid students eventually come out of their academics with poor or average academic performance and a low esteem. In my training sessions when I deep dive I find that they have a story of discouragement of some sort in their early academics.

Points to be noted here are the interactions my genome had with the hostile environment for 4 years and with the conducive and friendly environment for 2 years. 2 years came heavily on pygmalion-effect4 years in my life! What’s your story? It’s been well studied now that negative expectations and isolation of students as poor performers put them under “stereotype threat” that hinders with psycho-social development and life performance. So in your training sessions/teaching sessions/coaching sessions if you tend to stereotype some one as low performers and isolate them in the class you are inviting low performance for sure. In the contrary when your expectations are ambitious and positive you get those same students performing better. Because your attitude dictates your behavioral intervention.

A lot of studies and research work have been done in this field by researcher Psychologists Claude Steele, PhD, Joshua Aronson, PhD, and Steven Spencer, PhD.

If you want to read more about this stereotype threat click the link provided or copy paste in your browser.

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The Genetic Resilience

The Beginning 18th century through end 19th century Northern Elephant Seals were mercilessly killed. Precious was their oil. Their number came down to as low as about 30 in the world. They were almost in the sealblink of extinction. Thanks to US Marine Mammal Protection Act-1972, numbers have now grown back to over 100,000. The giant Northern Elephant Seals survived. However there is a biological phenomenon that is hanging swords on them and may again put these animals at the risk of extinction. Called as population bottleneck this is an interesting genetic phenomenon.

When the population of a species is drastically reduced in a very short period of time due to external forces their genetic diversity also gets a beating. In such a small populated species chances of larger and wider genetic mixing is limited as mating happens among very small number of survivors. That narrows genetic diversity of that species. These are the species which are then endangered owing to various diseases and genetic disorders.

It’s been observed that in comparison to monkeys man has a very bottlepoorly diverse genotype. This indicates that we the human, are originated from a very limited number of parental sources. From prehistoric ages we lived in communities divided by race, cast, religion and geographical separations. Chances of genetic mixing remained scarce in human as genetic mixing remained essentially limited within those communities. And that’s the reason that our genes aren’t very diverse.

So a marriage between a black and a white or between inter racial communities is a welcome idea. You are actually creating a diverse genetic pool by doing so. A diverse genome gives rise to intelligence, good health and genetic stability. Back home we have an ancient way to tackle this inbuilt challenge called population bottleneck. The Gotra system was coined in Hindu religion that stamps a chain of generations from a single ancient origin by assigning a particular Gotra to the branches of the same stem. Our social system thus forbids marriages between people belonging to the same Gotra. This is to prevent marriages between two almost similar genomes which may at times lead to various diseases and genetic disorders as per gene bottleneck theory.

Going one step ahead now that there is a greater socio cultural mixing racial marriageof values and ethics, owing to e-revolution, our societies must promote inter-cast, cross country and cross racial marriages for the creation of a healthier human genetic pool. Smarter societies with diverse intelligence and talent would usher in then new dawns of prosperity. A new generation with auto ability to mow down certain diseases would bring in a better health and productivity for humankind.


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The 100 bn Amazement

We all may know that there are about 100 billion neurons in our brain. Each of them making about 10 thousands of connections with neighbouring neurons. All in total – making it equal to the approximate number of stars in our universe. You may thus appreciate the complexity of this organ. And also the speed at which things develop in the early stage of our life.

Development of this organ starts right from the words go. This making of the brain continues at very high speed in the mother’s womb and continues to farther develop up to brain-braingrowth_tcm7-96744the age of about 20. Almost everything is done by the age of 270 days in the womb as far as the entire structural formation is concerned. However, even if the number of the neurons (Neurogenesis) do not increase significantly farther after an early age the new connections (Synaptogenesis) keep developing till we die.

Our information processing ability or intelligence or IQ depends on the farther formation of gray Gray matter growthmatters which cover the surface of the brain. These are the neurons those carry signals or information very fast. This process continues through our teens. In my next post I will discuss about the impact of environment or experience on the final shaping of our brain.

When we talk about new connections each new learning is a new connection. These are just formed in the brain when we learn something for the first time called as a synapse. Some connections are very brittle and are very short lived and some synapses are very strong and are long lived. Whether a new connection which is weak at the onset grow stronger over a period of time would depend on our practice with that new piece of learning. An example is memorizing arithmetical tables by children. Do not practice for some times and you need to memorize it all over again. This is known as use it or lose it phenomenon.

If your question was where in what form information is stored in the brain you got the answer. They are stored in the form of new neuronal connections in the specialized areas in the brain. Continuous practice makes permanent memories rather stronger connections. They remain strong till the time they are repeatedly reinforced.

Imagine a toddler is being forced to walk or a 90 years old retired athlete to run a marathon. In normal case both would fail. Toddler would fail because it had not developed those skill connections. The octogenarian would fail because she/he had lost those neuronal connections over time with no practice of that particular skill.

However in recent years it’s been proven and exhibited that if someone starts learning a skill at late age and continuously practices through it may perform even at ages as late as in their 90s. Take the example of Fauja Singh who ran marathons at 100 and successfully completed all of them. Remember he started it at 80. Learning is never too late and is not forever! Continuous Practice may make it and make it forever.