Unconscious Bias is a result of our primitive brain and not the function of the neocortex. The primitive brain or the limbic system (amygdala, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, and hippocampus) is the region of the brain we share with reptiles.
The limbic system combines higher mental functions and primitive emotion into one system. Limbic system is associated with drive, pleasure and stress. This is the region of the brain that is constantly scanning our surroundings for signs of trouble. This is the region of the brain that is responsible for our well being.
Conscious decisions that are less instinctive and more thoughtful are made in the Prefrontal neocortex, the most advanced, or the most recent (from evolutionary perspective) part of the brain. Neocortex is part of the mammalian brain and is the most developed in humans. This is where our sensory perceptions, motor commands, spatial perception, language, and more conscious thinking reside. The increase in size of the neocortex in humans has resulted in voluntary inhibition of certain social behaviors to support greater cooperation and social harmony. Our capacity for our more “conscious” activity is dramatically less than our automatic reactions because it takes more energy.
Our brains are constantly searching to understand what we see (or hear or smell), make sense of the sensory input, and predict what to expect. The more predictable things are, the easier it is to defend ourselves or to be successful. The brain takes in information, considers the context, references learned associations, and then predicts what to expect. Unfortunately, reflexive actions mediated by the limbic system do not serve us very well in our modern day life. Conscious actions mediated by the neocortex such as social harmony, control of emotions, egalitarianism, analysis, data extrapolation, predicting outcomes, planning, and premeditated actions are the requirement of modern day living.
We cannot change the anatomy and functioning of our brains, but we can develop the ability to bring consciousness, especially in the important functions of life, such as relationships, perspectives, and happiness by taking advantage of the ability of the brain to build new neural networks. This helps in enhancing our ability to make conscious decisions, learn new skills, and make meaning of life itself. This can be achieved by yoga, meditation, and self awareness.
About Kammitment: Led by scientist and life-coach Kamalesh (Kam) Rao, Kammitment helps one realize and make a commitment towards self-actualization, through tailored leadership coaching workshops and programs for students and professionals in all stages of their lives, by drawing upon the time-tested principles of Yoga and Mindfulness. Kam has spent 20 years as a scientist and a manufacturing industry professional in the pharmaceuticals industry, and continues to consult with the industry. In his free time he leads executive coaching programs for Fortune 100 clients. A certified Yoga instructor, Kam lives in Oakland, CA and is an active volunteer in the Bay Area community when he is not perfecting the next Pretzel pose in Yoga and its myriad benefits. For further information, please email [email protected]