The Neuroscience Behind Competitive Edge

A new field of neuroscience has defined the pathway for cultivating breakthrough innovators and problem-solving managers who keep companies competitive. This new research has identified specific elements in our mental attitude that literally stimulate higher order brain networks to generate the fluid, creative, and emotional intelligence that predicts success. Not surprisingly, the core competency of this brain-enhancing attitude is the ability to transcend stress. Why stress?

Chronic stress means the stress response system is turned on nearly full time, flooding the brain with toxic hormones that topple emotional balance and drown logic and creative insight in a sea of overwhelm.


Add together all the life threatening stress-related illnesses and you have the #1 killer of Americans. At work, stress dampens performance, thwarts teamwork, and accounts for nearly half of turnover. The greater the stress at home, the more spouses will argue, criticize, withhold affection, and judge the relationship negatively, not realizing that stress is the real problem.

Stress isn’t something we should someday do something about. Yet 83 percent of Americans are doing nothing about it. And neither are organizations, and it’s cutting into their collective brain power.

The Brain Power Companies Have Lost and Can Retrieve

Think about it; when a company hires an employee, they are actually hiring that person’s brain and hoping it’s a smart brain that will grow even smarter. Place that person in a high pressure work environment without the tools to transcend stress, and the likelihood is that he or she will lose brain capacity.

There are two brain scans from the Mayo Clinic that show the impact of stress and depression on brain function. One scan shows a dimly lit brain beleaguered brain. The other shows a brain functioning at optimum, lit up and pulsing with activity. The scan of optimal brain function looks like the massive networks of light you see when flying on a dark night over a metropolis like New York, while the stressed brain looks like the dim lights you see scattered here and there as you fly over Nebraska’s farmland. The difference between the two brain scans is a good representation of the brain power a company has lost and can retrieve if they could solve the problem of stress.

Now, the Good News

The good news is neuroscience has identified a solution to stress that goes far beyond conventional stress management. This approach not only repairs the damage stress hormones cause, but also generates the neurological conditions that stimulate the growth of new connections within the higher brain that expand brain capacity, making people smarter, more innovative, and emotionally intelligent. The solution lies in the power of our mental state to rewire our brains. Change your attitude in specific ways and you can literally change brain structure to extinguish stress reactions and amplify higher brain function. The technical term for this change is neuroplasticity.

Neural Integration

The positive changes in brain function that neuroplasticity produces is called neural integration:

  • The usual networks that generate the brain’s executive functions grow larger and become more fully integrated with other neural networks. This means you increased your skillfulness at planning, decision making, error correction, and troubleshooting. You build strong cognitive abilities and can think abstractly.
  • Gamma wave activity is far better organized and coordinated, signaling the higher mental activity and heightened awareness found in peak performers.
  • The right brain and the prefrontal cortex work together to elevate intuition and creative insight into practical innovation.
  • Activity in the left prefrontal cortex, the seat of positive emotion, swamps activity in the right prefrontal cortex, the seat of negative emotion. This condition enables you to achieve a high level of emotional intelligence.
  • There is greater activity in the center of the brain, especially the caudate and right insula, generating the social intelligence that sustains interpersonal resonance.
  • Your physiology functions at optimum, securing a high level of health and energy.

Who wouldn’t want a change like that? Who in corporate leadership wouldn’t want a work force operating at that level of brain function? Teach people the mental attitude that achieves this level of brain function, and you maximize the full extent of fluid, creative, emotional, and social intelligence.

The Neural Competitive Advantage

Achieving the prescribed shift in mental attitude is easier than one might imagine, adding little to your to-do list. It’s essentially about practicing a to-be list. Even better is the fact that change in brain structure happens quickly, within four to eight weeks. Neuroplasticity is destined to become the new competitive edge. It’s already being called the “neural competitive advantage”.

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Source: The Neuroscience Behind Competitive Edge

Via: Google Alert for Neuroscience