The three little neuronal correlates

October 23, 2008

The first little neural correlate deserves a hat tip to PsyBlog for linking to an interesting and very relevant piece of neuroscience research originally reported in Science Magazine dated 3 October 2008

Hagar Gelbard-Sagiv et al report that as we experience anything memorable, the storage of the memory of that event can be monitored as the firing of specific neurons. When asked to recall that event those identical neurons fire.

Now this may not strike you as important but it has previously only shown to be theoretically true. The relevance of this for me is that when running a ‘future backwards’ session we disrupt linear thinking. This allows each memory of an event or decision to fire independently and allow the individual or group to re-experience it as if it was happening now. Feelings and associated emotions will all re-emerge allowing a true recollection and self-realisation of the event in relation to today.

The second little neural correlate is that as the individual retells the event from their perspective it is an anecdotal fragment in the first person form – the perfect story form for empathy, storage and subsequent recall in memory.

And the third little neural correlate is the slightly older study of”>mirror neurons wich enable us to imagine ourselves in the shoes of the person recalling the event as if we were having that experience ourselves.

So there you have it three little but killer reasons why future backwards is my favourite Cognitive Edge method and I didn’t even mention oxytocin or police interviewing suspects, perhaps I’ll save that for my final blog next week.

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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