This is Your Brain on Faith at Camp! DR. PAUL HILL, PRESENTER Vibrant Faith Ministries,

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1 This is Your Brain on Faith at Camp! DR. PAUL HILL, PRESENTER Vibrant Faith Ministries,

2 There is a need for religious camps to make a strong case! Research Based Historical Theological/ideological Brain/neurological

3 DESCRIPTION Connect insights from the expanding science of the brain with Four Key faith practices: Caring conversation Devotions Service Rituals and Traditions Religious camps do these practices intuitively, thus there is near assurance that camps are effective in shaping and transforming lives.

4 Why is this important? We need to make a better case for ourselves!!!! Brain science revolutionizes how we think about ourselves, and what it means to be human. Theological interpretations of things spiritual are being examined and given new explanations. Insights from the brain sciences shed light on ancient religious practices. Insights from the brain sciences inform and reinforce practices that happen at camp. Brain science reinforces an ecological, holistic, or whole culture approach to faith/spiritual formation.

5 Explore Two Primary Discoveries Mirror Neurons The Flow of the Brain: bottom to top, back to front and right to left

6 Neurons A specialized cell that transmits information within our brain and between our body and our brain. Made up of dendrites (receivers), axons (senders) Takes electrical signals and turns them into chemical signals at the synaptic junction.

7 Neurons

8

9 Fun Facts: There are more possible neuron connections within our brains than there are atoms in the universe. At birth our brains are 1/3 rd the size they will be at adulthood. Humans create 1.8 million neuron synapse per second from the second month in-utero through our second birthday. We use 20% of our caloric intake to operate our brains.

10 Mirror Neurons When we see a stroke aimed and just ready to fall upon the leg or the arm of another person, we naturally shrink back our leg, or our arm; and when it does fall we feel it in some measure and are hurt by it as well as the sufferer Nature, when she formed man for society, endowed him with an original desire to please, and an original aversion to offend his brethren. She taught him to feel pleasure in their favorable, and pain in their unfavorable regard. Adam Smith

11 Mirror Neurons: Mimic and Anticipate

12 Mirror Neurons Discovered in late 1990 s at University of Parma (Rizzolatti, Fadiga, Di Pallegrion, Gallese) Although in place for 300,000 years, 60,000 years ago there was an explosion of human development and activity no one knows why. They allow us to do everything! If we didn t have an inhibitory part of the brain (frontal cortex) we would have no inhibition. We don t have Free Will so much as Free Won t (David Brooks) Your internal mental life is your own. Could it be mirror neurons turned in on themselves?

13 Mirror Neurons Faith (and just about everything else we learn) is caught more than it is taught.

14 Mirror Neurons The main business of the brain is modeling Baby s mimic their mother s tongue Parent feeding a child The brain of the sports fan Thus, to be human is to be social: Faith is formed through personal trusted relationships! If we want spiritual children we need to be spiritual adults.

15 Mirror Neurons and Learning Songs

16 Mirror Neurons Mimic what we see and hear Allows us to feel what we see in others-their vantage point Allow us to see ourselves as others see us Thus, this is the seedbed for the development of empathy which can lead to moral development Enables us to develop a theory of the mind (we can anticipate others and their intentions) We are able to feel what others think.

17 Particularly plentiful in the Inferior Parietal Lobe (IPL) which resides between seeing and hearing parts of the brain! Two uniquely human structures here on the left side: angular gyrus (arithmetic, reading, naming, metaphorical thinking) and Supramarginal gyrus (skilled actions using tools)

18 Mirror Neurons and Common Emotions Fear Anger Sadness Shame Contempt Disgust Happiness

19 Mirror Neurons We cannot think about spirituality or spiritual development without understanding that it is a whole person, whole culture, whole brain process. Thus the Four Key faith practices are to be understood as a wholistic approach to faith formation.

20 Service and Mirror Neurons Service teaches others to copy our behavior Service teaches us empathy Service gives structure, form and context to emerging moral development Service provides us a theory of the mind for others Thus, service is an excellent way to utilize mirror neurons

21 The Flow of the Brain The brain works from bottom to top, back to front and right to left.

22 Bottom to Top: What is it and will it hurt me? Sub-cortical and cerebellum system (reptilian brain): sex and survival KEEP ME ALIVE!! Brain Stem (medulla): respiration, circulation, body temperature Cerebellum: motor coordination, balance, monitors and adjusts motor cortex signals, complex planning-irony

23

24 Bottom to Top: Midbrain Sometimes called the mammalian brain Thalamus: receives signals from senses and sends them to sensory cortex Hippocampus: working memory Basal Ganglia: automatic movement (Parkinson s if it is damaged) Much emotion resides here

25

26 The Amygdala Arousal/alert system Fight, flight, freeze (women), feed, and fornication Wassup?? (Awareness) And should I Care? (Alertness) Activates our solution and decision areas of our brain such as feelings, experience, memory (Assessment/evaluation) Activates our action/motor responses (Action)

27 Caring Conversation cools the Amygdala

28

29 How Awe Works

30 Rituals and Traditions Our grandmother tongue because they address ancient parts of the human brain R & T provide the salve or emotional calm for an on alert amygdala (move us from fight or flight, to flow) R & T give emotional and pre-feeling structure to what we are experiencing (This is familiar, I recognize this, I will survive, this has deep meaning) R & T incorporate many parts of the brain all at once: memory, language, metaphor, emotion, feelings, images, imagination, social connectedness

31 Back to Front: How do I do it? Occipitol Lobe/vision There are three visual pathways and they all end up at the amygdala! How/where stream: relation of objects in space What stream: name, memory, meaning of something So What stream: (LaDoux shortcut) Bypasses high level thinking.

32 Humor Humor is a theory of the mind (what we are expecting) with a big whoop conclusion (we didn t expect that and it is not threatening) i.e. the origin of smiles i.e. tickling i.e. low and high ropes course experiencesperceived risk

33 Right to Left: Should I do it?

34 Cerebral Cortex 6 pieces of paper 12x18 all crinkled up Information enters at level 4 Internal processing at levels 1-3 Outgoing responses at levels 5-6 Also organized vertically in mini-columns Full of mirror neurons to help us copy and predict: culture, very plastic, makes us human

35

36 Parietal Lobes The multi-media center: touch, muscle and joint information, integrates vision, hearing, balance Right PL gives us a mental model of the space around us (location of objects and our relationship with them) Left PL gives us a sense of our body image and movement in space

37 Inferior Parietal Lobes (Left) Two parts of it make us uniquely human: there appear to be no primate antecedents Angular Gyrus: Integrates sensory convergence, zap it with an electrode and you ll have an out of body experience Supramarginal gyrus: takes images intended to require a skilled action and executes them (i.e. pounding a nail) Left angular gyrus: arithmetic, abstraction, some aspects of language

38 IPL Location and More Functions Stands at the crossroads of the vision-occipitol, touch-parietal, and hearing-temporal areas. Mirror neurons are mapping all these areas together and are plentiful in the IPL Free will is based in supramarginal gyrus and it allows us to imagine many courses of action. The anterior cingulate makes us desire one option based on hierarchy of values (prefrontal cortex). Together this is where wanting and will power come together.

39 The Inferior Parietal Lobe

40 Devotions and the IPL Center of mystical experiences (your place in space is lost when this part of the brain is quiet) Integration of senses with abstraction and language Thus, those parts of the brain that seem most uniquely human are those parts of the brain utilizing and/or affected by devotional behavior.

41 Right to Left: Frontal Lobes Planning actions and impulse control (free won t) Keeping goals Prefrontal Cortex: personality, moral compunction, ambition, empathy, forsight, morality, dignity LPC: social connectedness RPC: when damaged person is euphoric

42 Right to Left Right Hemisphere processes challenges, creates solutions, novelty, risk-taking Left Hemisphere addresses the familiar and routine Temporal lobes: hearing, language, whether to do it

43

44 Implications The unconscious (bottom to top) matters and truly drives us initially The unconscious has a processing capacity 200,000 times stronger than the conscious mind (Right to left) Experience really matters first!

45 The Four Keys A whole brain strategy that works the way the brain works. As we do any and all of them we are essentially working the brain process of bottom to top, back to front, and right to left The Four Keys can be positive inputs to the system.

46 Four Keys: Caring Conversation We are essentially social (mirror neurons) Addresses the innate tendency for an amygdala alert Creates the context for learning, community, life together,

47 Four Keys: Devotions Addresses the fundamental human need for meaning Frames and gives context to being human Provides story, metaphor, images, words and memories for the human journey Connects ancient, learned memory from which to draw upon (mirror neurons of the past) Gives image and language to our experience

48 The Four Keys: Service Provides five moral foundations through empathy: Fairness/reciprocity Harm/care concern Authority/respect concern Purity/disgust concern In-group/loyalty concern Faith (and morality) is formed by personal trusted relationships

49 The Four Keys: Rituals and Traditions The human mind can take in 11 million pieces of information at any given time, we can be consciously aware of 40 of these. R&T codify and make conscious much of what lies beneath consciousness. It builds on our antecedent brain where rituals exist for all kinds of behavior: sex, grooming, dominance In R&T we move dramatically through the arousal, attention, assessment and action system of the brain i.e. Grandparents gave Sam a Bible at 9, carried it everywhere but never read it until now 35 years later.

50 This is your brain on faith at camp.

51 Sources Mind, Brain and Education, David Sousa Self Comes to Mind, Antonio Damasio Looking for Spinoza, Antonio Damasiio The Adolescent Brain, Reaching for Autonomy, Robert Sylwester The Mystical Mind, Aquila and Newberg Why God Won t Go Away, Aquila and Newberg The Social Animal, David Brooks The Tell-Tale Brain, V.S. Ramachandran Why do They Act That Way? David Walsh Pink Brain, Blue Brain, Lise Eliott Boys Adrift, Leonard Sax Girls on the Edge, Leonard Sax

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