The ABCs of Neuroscience and Its Relation to Coaching
Neuroscience in its most generic sense is the study of the nervous system. Often used interchangeably with Neurobiology, Neuroscience holds a broader scope. While Neurobiology specifically studies the biology of the nervous system, neuroscience is an interdisciplinary and includes other fields of study like chemistry, mathematics, medicine, linguistics, and even the disciplines of physics, philosophy and psychology.
More specifically, neuroscience can be defined as a discipline of life sciences that attempts to study the anatomy, molecular biology and physiology of the nervous system and its relation to human behavior and learning.
The relevance of Neuroscience to wellness and life coaching
The ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study conducted a survey in 2010 to determine the primary motivation of people who seek life and wellness coaching. The top three motivations were –
- Performance optimization – individual or team
- Expansion of career opportunities
- Improved business management and strategizing
Other common reasons included a wish to have an improved self-esteem and self-confidence or learn how to balance personal and professional life better. Come to think of the common factors between these top five motivations, you’ll see that individuals opt for coaching when they feel the need to optimize their thinking or activate their brains. And this brings us to the relevance of neuroscience to coaching.
The human brain and its wonderful ability to learn is the most fundamental and the strongest link between neuroscience and coaching. People undergo coaching when they want to explore new areas – learn something new, unlearn something harmful, optimize or develop certain characteristic, change to something better, and train in something new. Coaching derives its results from the brain’s ability to constantly soak up new information – something that contemporary cognitive neuroscience attempts to understand and explain.
The major branches of neuroscience in coaching
Neuroscience as a whole is an intensely diverse branch of life sciences. Lifestyle and wellness coaching typically include the following branches:
- Behavioral neuroscience – Related to the study of how the brain affects behavior.
- Cognitive neuroscience – Related to the study of cognition and its nature from the nervous system point of view.
- Cultural neuroscience – Related to the study of the effect of cultural values, practices and beliefs on the brain.
- Neurolinguistics – Related to the study of mechanism used by the brain to acquire, comprehend and utter a particular language.
- Social neuroscience – Related to the study of biological systems’ implementation of social processes and behavior. This branch attempts to refine theories of social behavior by gathering and using biological concepts.
Using a brain based approach to coaching helps quantify the results of coaching. Neuroscience can in fact academically establish and explain mechanism and usefulness of coaching. It provides evidence based deeper insight into the behavioral patterns, cognitive functions, reactions that humans have and provides commodious coaching techniques backed by scientific research.
Recent trends in neuroscience
Your brain is unarguably the most complex organ in your body and is the center of all learning and training activities. Weighing just 1.4 kilograms, your brain houses more than a billion neurons with around 10,000 inter-neuron synaptic connections. Comprehensive understanding of the functioning of this wonder organ will be instrumental in understanding and possibly optimizing human behavior for an improved quality of life.
Neuroscience is also instrumental in preventing common diseases and health conditions linked with the central nervous system. A 2007 report by the World Health Organization stated that close to one billion people were affected by neurological disorders throughout the world that year. Today, neurological disorders account for a whole 11% of the total burden on health care systems and these figures are exclusive of mental illness and addiction disorders. According to an estimate made by the European Brain Council in 2010, neurological disorders cost Europe over a trillion dollars a year.
Extensive research in all branches of neuroscience is being done today to control diseases like Alzheimer’s as well as understand social interactions and human cognitive behavior.
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