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3 Ways Elephants And Neuroscience Can Help You Make Better Decisions

Stashed in: #TED, Decisions, Brain, @bakadesuyo, Awesome, Elephants!, The Nature of the Beast

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Great metaphor!  A lot to think about...

The brain is quite complex and poorly understood — even by experts.

As Molly Crockett explains, most everything we read in the media about the brain is grossly oversimplified and often flat-out wrong.

Molly explains more:

Thanks a lot, Eric!

Oxytocin isn’t just the “love hormone.” And dopamine isn’t merely “the reward neurotransmitter.” And serotonin isn’t just the “happy chemical.”

Is this a very left brain way for me to look at things? Or right brain?

Turns out that distinction is largely misunderstood in the popular media as well:


Eric says a better metaphor for the brain is an elephant and its rider:

The old parts of the brain are like the elephant: A simple yet powerful creature, ruled by primal emotion and desires.

The new brain (or prefrontal cortex) is the rider: Smarter and more rational but easily overpowered.


When the elephant is calm, the rider can steer the elephant. This is the “you” you usually identify with.

But when you’re hungry or tired, when you break that diet or procrastinate against your better judgment — that’s the elephant exerting his strength.

Eric explains how to outsmart the beast: keep the elephant calm, strengthen the rider and don't let the rider get too tired, and train the elephant. Read more:

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