Friday, May 16, 2008

The Hebbian Learning Rule

While reading The Science of Happiness by Stefan Klein, Ph.D., I came across a passage that I quoted in this post some time ago. I'll go ahead and re-quote that here.

Even if we're feeling huge anger or fear, it's to our advantage to bring our emotions under control. When we [do this], there's a two-fold effect on the brain. For one, we're less likely to react negatively to start with, because the connection between the stimulus and the emotional response to it is weakened. Second, we strengthen the ability to restrain such emotions, should they be released after all. ... Conscious control of the emotions has to be practiced. (p. 59)

This got me thinking a little bit about the application of visualization to this principle. I wonder if this emotional response could be practiced before we are called upon to cope in the moment. Would envisioning scenarios and practicing a response in either role-play or entirely within the imagination have a similar effect to actually experiencing a situation in which you'll actually need to employ self-control to prevent the further strengthening of the bond between stimulus and emotional response?

-Taylor Baldwin

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