Terese Brasen

Terese Brasen

Senior Communications Strategist

The Neuroscience of Giving

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The neuroscience of giving: why it makes us feel so good and what it can teach us about communications.

You react automatically. Break into a smile and do a little dance. Someone is saying thank you, and it feels really good to receive the call, email, handshake or hug.

Giving is an empathetic act associated with our brain’s default mode network. As the word “default” suggests, this network is the brain’s resting state. Activating it comes naturally.

In our busy minds, the default mode and task-positive networks toggle off and on. If one switches on, the other usually shuts down. When we’re feeling connected and empathetic toward others, the default mode network lights up. Telling stories, thinking about others, remembering the past and dreaming about the future are default mode network mindsets. The task-positive network is at play when we’re zoning others out and focusing. Think spreadsheets, expense claims and proofs.

Neurologists talk about being “in the zone.” At rare times, both networks are active. When a great hockey player rushes up the ice, receives a pass and scores, they’re experiencing a perfect, in-the-zone moment. When you’re in the zone, you’re both connected and task focused. I can imagine how it feels. Occasionally, I fire on all cylinders, but most days, my brain toggles in and out of the default mode and task-positive networks.

Continue reading this article by Terese Brasen: IABC Edmonton

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