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By J.Gwathney

Remaining valiant as you grow older

Intense situations involuntarily affect your emotional responses. The neurobiological responses that occur in adults and adolescents are different. Human beings in their adolescence are still discovering. It is in this experimental stage that recklessness is viewed as fun. This allows their thinking to go beyond certain limits within many situations that are considered risky. The brain of an adult has experience and can develop an automatic response to similar circumstances.

An adult's consciousness is more aware of consequences. These differential factors play a major role in the decision-making process. How much caution within a particular set of circumstances one should use depends on an individual's life experience. If you are unfamiliar with a situation, this allows more room for discovery. Strategic thinking is at work. In a risky situation, making the best choices is vital to your survival. How well does your brain function under pressure? Training your brain and shaping its agility is important, not just in dangerous situations, but for its strategic thinking process as well.


In many ways, your responses depend on the way that the value of reward are perceived. Excitement involving a possible gain incites mental activity in certain parts of the brain. It is the elevated feelings of expectation that overrides previous ideas, and experiences.

When circumstances present opportunities that involve choices, all choices fluctuate according to change.

The factors that determine choice are:

  1. Priority
  2. Emotion
  3. Urgency

Striatum and the insula cortex

The Striatum is a important area within the brain. It functions as part of the basal ganglia. Controlling desire and impulses, the basal ganglia's process takes place inside the prefrontal cortex.

Insula cortex

The insula cortex area contributes to your instincts. This is the innate sense of right and wrong that has a role in the decision-making process. Patterns of behavior are learned through experiences. The brain disregards frontal lobe participation when it has built up an automatic response. This means that the brain will respond quickly, as it would to a pre-existing experience, and is slow moving to an experience that it is not familiar with.


The amygdala is another key area of the brain's limbic system. It is responsible for the fight or flight impulse. Together with the insula cortex, this makes up the mesocortical limbic circuit.

Frontal lobe activity

All conscious thought occurs in the frontal lobes. The frontal lobes occupy about one-third of the entire brain. It is responsible for our ability to reason, analyze, and to solve problems. A human being's frontal lobes are not completely developed until about thirty years of age.

Fluid intelligence

Fluid intelligence relates to the ability to process new and unfamiliar circumstances by using the immediate capacity of strategic thinking.

Crystallized intelligence

Crystallized intelligence defines the information already stored in the brain from previous experiences. This is based on the knowledge that you have mentally collected and how much experience that you have using that knowledge.

It is important to continue to learn new things. Rejuvenating your brain allows it to develop its ongoing flexibility, and enables it to think strategically.

Article sources

J.Gwathney, Abigail Baird, Sandra Bond Chapman

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