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Mammalian Brain
Chemistry
explains everything
Loretta G. Breuning PhD
Inner Mammal Institute
Your brain chemicals are inherited

from earlier animals
These chemicals
are not meant

to just flow

all the time


They’re meant

to promote
survival
The mammal brain releases

a happy chemical when it sees

a way to meet its needs
dopamine endorphin oxytocin serotonin
It releases a stress chemical
when it sees

a potential threat to its needs
cortisol
A happy chemical tells

a mammal to go toward
An unhappy chemical tells
a mammal to avoid
The mammal brain is always
scanning its world, and
responding with brain chemicals
We mammals
survive
because our
brain chemicals
steer us toward
rewards and
away from harm
The brain

structures

that manage 

these chemicals

are the same
in all mammals
Humans have a
big stock of
extra neurons
to feed this
operating
system with
more
information
When you know what turns on
our brain chemicals in animals,
the world makes sense
dopamine endorphin oxytocinserotonin
Dopamine
is the great feeling

that a reward is at hand
Dopamine
releases energy for the chase
Dopamine
droops
once you
get the
reward,
until

you set
your sights
on another
reward
Loretta Graziano Breuning PhD, Inner Mammal Institute
Oxytocin
is often called
the “love chemical”
Loretta Graziano Breuning PhD, Inner Mammal Institute
Oxytocin is stimulated by
touch,

trust,
birth,

and

sex
Oxytocin droops when you’re
separated from the herd
This causes
the feeling
that your
survival is
threatened
Serotonin
is the pleasure of
social dominance
Serotonin
is not
aggression
but a calm
sense that
“ I
will get the
banana ”
Serotonin

is soon
reabsorbed,

so we are
always looking
for ways to
stimulate more
Endorphin masks pain
so you can do what

it takes to survive
Endorphin is

“endogenous morphine”
it’s meant for
emergencies,
not partying
Endorphin is triggered
by vigorous exertion
Natural selection built a brain
that motivates survival
behaviors by
rewarding them
with a good
feeling
How does a mammal know
which rewards to approach
and which threats to avoid?
Our brain chemicals are
controlled by neural pathways
built from life experience
Brain chemicals are like paving on our
neural pathways. This is why
it’s easy to repeat
behaviors
that triggered
happy
che...
and to
avoid
behaviors
that
triggered
pain before
The electricity in our brain

flows like water in a storm,

finding the paths of least resistance
Electricity flows to your

happy chemicals when something
resembles a past reward
Electricity flows to your
cortisol when something
resembles past pain
Each mammal wires itself
from its unique life experience
Reptiles are
hardwired with
the knowledge of
their ancestors,
but mammals
add knowledge
during an early
period of
dependen...
A reptile
leaves home
as soon as
it’s born
because

it already
knows it all
A mother reptile can make hundreds of
babies, and her genes will survive
even though most of them die
A mama
mammal can
only produce
a few babies
in her lifetime.

Her genes will
not survive
unless she
guards each
one consta...
Attachment
enables
mammals
to survive
Oxytocin circuits tell a
mammal who to trust
and who not to trust
By puberty, attachment
transfers from mother to group,
thanks to oxytocin circuits
The bigger

a mammal’s
brain, the
longer its
childhood
Big brains actually make it harder
to survive because neurons use
so much energy
It takes
time to wire
neurons in
ways that
promotes
survival
Mirror neurons also help a
young mammal learn from
the experience of its elders
Each mammal meets its needs with
circuits built from individual experience and
circuits inherited from its ancestors
The bigger a mammal’s brain,
the more it builds circuits

from life experience
The smaller a mammal’s brain, the more
it relies on circuits established long ago
New pathways build more easily
in puberty. This supports transfer,
which helps prevent inbreeding.
After puberty, myelin drops and
a mammal relies on the core
neural network it has established
This
network
makes
it easy
to seek
the
rewards
we
know
And avoid the harm that we know
Humans have
a very long
dependency
which gives us
time to build
more circuits
from experience
instead of relying
on pre-wi...
It’s not
easy
being
mammal !
Living with a group
brings competition
The mammal brain evolved

to weigh alternatives
It asserts when that’s safe and
it inhibits impulses when that’s
the better survival strategy
It must compare itself
to others to do that
The impulse to compare
is more urgent than the
impulse to eat or mate
Serotonin makes it feel
good when you
compare favorably
The mammal brain
constantly weighs
opportunities and threats
Most of the time,
a mammal sticks with the
group despite the conflict
to enjoy protection
from common enemies
Oxytocin makes it

feel good
But the mammal brain is very
careful about who it trusts
Greener pastures feel good
but the increased
predator threat feels bad
When a
mammal
goes for it,
dopamine
makes it
feel good
The mammal
brain scans for
social rewards
as well as
material
rewards
It scans for
social
threats as
well as
material
threats
Primates have enough neurons to
build individualized trust bonds
and update
those
circuits in
response
to new
rewards
and threats
A social
threat feels
like a
survival
threat to
the mammal
brain
Disappointment feels like a survival
threat to the mammal brain
But it finds another way to stimulate 

dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin
Loretta Graziano Breuning PhD, Inner Mammal Institute © 2015
It’s not
easy
being
mammal !
Is this information helpful?


share it with your favorite groups and professionals;
get the free 5-day Happy Chemical Jum...
Dopamine
Dopamine makes you jump for joy
when you reach a goal or get a toy.
Innature,ithelpsfindfoodwhenyouneedit.
“Eurek...
Endorphin
Endorphin helps you mask the pain
Of injuries that you sustain.
Yourancestorsescapedfrompredatorattack
‘Cause en...
Oxytocin
Oxytocin makes you trust your mates.
We love the bonds that it creates.
Oxytocin flowswhenyoustickwiththeherd.
“N...
Serotonin swells your chest with pride
When you get respect and needn’t hide.
Yourbrainfeelsgoodwhenyouboostyourselfhigher...
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Mammalian Brain Chemistry Explains Everything

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Our happy brain chemicals (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphin) are inherited from earlier mammals. They did not evolve to make you happy all the time. They are meant to motivate you to go toward things that promote your genes, and warn you to avoid things that threaten your genes. No conscious interest in your genes is involved - these chemicals create such strong impulses that we search for information to make sense of them. That's the job of our big cortex. It's not easy being a mammal, but your ups and downs are easier to manage when you know the job they do in the state of nature.

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Mammalian Brain Chemistry Explains Everything

  1. Mammalian Brain Chemistry explains everything Loretta G. Breuning PhD Inner Mammal Institute
  2. Your brain chemicals are inherited
 from earlier animals
  3. These chemicals are not meant
 to just flow
 all the time 
 They’re meant
 to promote survival
  4. The mammal brain releases
 a happy chemical when it sees
 a way to meet its needs dopamine endorphin oxytocin serotonin
  5. It releases a stress chemical when it sees
 a potential threat to its needs cortisol
  6. A happy chemical tells
 a mammal to go toward An unhappy chemical tells a mammal to avoid
  7. The mammal brain is always scanning its world, and responding with brain chemicals
  8. We mammals survive because our brain chemicals steer us toward rewards and away from harm
  9. The brain
 structures
 that manage 
 these chemicals
 are the same in all mammals
  10. Humans have a big stock of extra neurons to feed this operating system with more information
  11. When you know what turns on our brain chemicals in animals, the world makes sense dopamine endorphin oxytocinserotonin
  12. Dopamine is the great feeling
 that a reward is at hand
  13. Dopamine releases energy for the chase
  14. Dopamine droops once you get the reward, until
 you set your sights on another reward
  15. Loretta Graziano Breuning PhD, Inner Mammal Institute Oxytocin is often called the “love chemical”
  16. Loretta Graziano Breuning PhD, Inner Mammal Institute Oxytocin is stimulated by touch,
 trust, birth,
 and
 sex
  17. Oxytocin droops when you’re separated from the herd This causes the feeling that your survival is threatened
  18. Serotonin is the pleasure of social dominance
  19. Serotonin is not aggression but a calm sense that “ I will get the banana ”
  20. Serotonin
 is soon reabsorbed,
 so we are always looking for ways to stimulate more
  21. Endorphin masks pain so you can do what
 it takes to survive
  22. Endorphin is
 “endogenous morphine” it’s meant for emergencies, not partying
  23. Endorphin is triggered by vigorous exertion
  24. Natural selection built a brain that motivates survival behaviors by rewarding them with a good feeling
  25. How does a mammal know which rewards to approach and which threats to avoid?
  26. Our brain chemicals are controlled by neural pathways built from life experience
  27. Brain chemicals are like paving on our neural pathways. This is why it’s easy to repeat behaviors that triggered happy chemicals before
  28. and to avoid behaviors that triggered pain before
  29. The electricity in our brain
 flows like water in a storm,
 finding the paths of least resistance
  30. Electricity flows to your
 happy chemicals when something resembles a past reward
  31. Electricity flows to your cortisol when something resembles past pain
  32. Each mammal wires itself from its unique life experience
  33. Reptiles are hardwired with the knowledge of their ancestors, but mammals add knowledge during an early period of dependency
  34. A reptile leaves home as soon as it’s born because
 it already knows it all
  35. A mother reptile can make hundreds of babies, and her genes will survive even though most of them die
  36. A mama mammal can only produce a few babies in her lifetime.
 Her genes will not survive unless she guards each one constantly.
  37. Attachment enables mammals to survive
  38. Oxytocin circuits tell a mammal who to trust and who not to trust
  39. By puberty, attachment transfers from mother to group, thanks to oxytocin circuits
  40. The bigger
 a mammal’s brain, the longer its childhood
  41. Big brains actually make it harder to survive because neurons use so much energy
  42. It takes time to wire neurons in ways that promotes survival
  43. Mirror neurons also help a young mammal learn from the experience of its elders
  44. Each mammal meets its needs with circuits built from individual experience and circuits inherited from its ancestors
  45. The bigger a mammal’s brain, the more it builds circuits
 from life experience
  46. The smaller a mammal’s brain, the more it relies on circuits established long ago
  47. New pathways build more easily in puberty. This supports transfer, which helps prevent inbreeding.
  48. After puberty, myelin drops and a mammal relies on the core neural network it has established
  49. This network makes it easy to seek the rewards we know
  50. And avoid the harm that we know
  51. Humans have a very long dependency which gives us time to build more circuits from experience instead of relying on pre-wired impulses
  52. It’s not easy being mammal !
  53. Living with a group brings competition
  54. The mammal brain evolved
 to weigh alternatives
  55. It asserts when that’s safe and it inhibits impulses when that’s the better survival strategy
  56. It must compare itself to others to do that
  57. The impulse to compare is more urgent than the impulse to eat or mate
  58. Serotonin makes it feel good when you compare favorably
  59. The mammal brain constantly weighs opportunities and threats
  60. Most of the time, a mammal sticks with the group despite the conflict
  61. to enjoy protection from common enemies
  62. Oxytocin makes it
 feel good
  63. But the mammal brain is very careful about who it trusts
  64. Greener pastures feel good but the increased predator threat feels bad
  65. When a mammal goes for it, dopamine makes it feel good
  66. The mammal brain scans for social rewards as well as material rewards
  67. It scans for social threats as well as material threats
  68. Primates have enough neurons to build individualized trust bonds
  69. and update those circuits in response to new rewards and threats
  70. A social threat feels like a survival threat to the mammal brain
  71. Disappointment feels like a survival threat to the mammal brain
  72. But it finds another way to stimulate 
 dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin
  73. Loretta Graziano Breuning PhD, Inner Mammal Institute © 2015 It’s not easy being mammal !
  74. Is this information helpful? 
 share it with your favorite groups and professionals; get the free 5-day Happy Chemical Jumpstart; watch the free video:
 Your Ups and Downs Are Natural …and also learned buy a book...and another book; comment on Youtube, Amazon, Goodreads to help others; participate in the Inner Mammal Institute’s
 Facebook discussion group and Twitter; read my blogs, Your Neurochemical Self and thePositivePsychologyPeople; read book excerpts at InnerMammalInstitute.org
  75. Dopamine Dopamine makes you jump for joy when you reach a goal or get a toy. Innature,ithelpsfindfoodwhenyouneedit. “Eureka, I got it!” A memory gets created. Dopamine causes expectations. Correct predictions bring good sensations. Dopamine feels great so you try to get more. It rewarded our ancestors trudging through gore. Cocaine triggers dopamine. Caution to all: Joy without goal-seeking leads to a fall. Dopamine flows when you feel like “I’ve done it.” Whenothersdoitforyou,yourdopaminewillshunit.
  76. Endorphin Endorphin helps you mask the pain Of injuries that you sustain. Yourancestorsescapedfrompredatorattack ‘Cause endorphinfelt goodwhiletheyranback. Endorphin feels great when it eases your pains. But only real pain makes it flow in your veins. Exercise triggers it, experts alert you. But first you must do it ‘til body parts hurt you. Endorphin receptors let opium in. So you feel like you’re safe without lifting a shin. Laughing and crying can trigger it too. But just for a moment– then the job’s through.
  77. Oxytocin Oxytocin makes you trust your mates. We love the bonds that it creates. Oxytocin flowswhenyoustickwiththeherd. “Not me!” youmaysay,“I’mnobovineorbird.” But without social bonds, your brain feels alarm. This protected our ancestors from all kinds of harm. Though theherdwillannoyyou,thepackhurt you so. When you run with a pack, oxytocin will flow. “My pack is great and the other is nuts.” This thinking prevailed since the first mammal struts. You’re above all this foolishness, obviously. But it feels good when I trust you and you trust me.
  78. Serotonin swells your chest with pride When you get respect and needn’t hide. Yourbrainfeelsgoodwhenyouboostyourselfhigher. But when others do this, it provokes your ire. “I don’t care about status. It’s other who do.” But youspurtserotoninwhenthelimelight’s on you. You are quite modest and don’t like to boast. But no serotonin flows when you coast. Status doesn’t depend on money. You can be clever or helpful or funny. But when others one-up you, your mind agitates. ‘Cause serotonin droops ‘til you lift your own weights. Serotonin
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Our happy brain chemicals (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphin) are inherited from earlier mammals. They did not evolve to make you happy all the time. They are meant to motivate you to go toward things that promote your genes, and warn you to avoid things that threaten your genes. No conscious interest in your genes is involved - these chemicals create such strong impulses that we search for information to make sense of them. That's the job of our big cortex. It's not easy being a mammal, but your ups and downs are easier to manage when you know the job they do in the state of nature.

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