Automatic Motor Response

Ball Room Dancing is an example of automatic motor response (AMR). Sharon Mulgrew and Bryan Umeki have practiced their dancing so often that they now are operating from AMR. At the beginning, they had to concentrate deeply to learn the movements. It is this aMr feature of their brains that allows them to finally enjoy dancing.

While learning to drive, one of the authors' sisters complained that is was hard to work the manual transmission. Her dad quipped that it would be hard at the beginning, but after a while, it would become automatic.

Some activities are performed so often that they become automatic motor responses (such as actions performed by a skilled typist or pianist). The reactions are too quick for true interaction between the stimulus (typing an "a") and the reasoning abilities (Where is the letter "a" on a keyboard? There it is. Hit it.). When children first begin to write, the shapes and drawing mechanisms for each letter are matters of intense concentration. After years of practice, writing becomes automatic. The movements are stored in memory as a single associate memory, ready to access and process in a fraction of a second. These memory associations, thought to be stored in the cerebellum, are like computer routines. The instructions are carried out in a specific order at an extremely rapid pace.

Sometimes skills become so automatic that it is difficult to explain the details to someone else. And slowing down the actions to explain the details often causes an error in the process. This explains why most people have difficulty writing with their opposite hand. The instructions in your brain are for the directions and movements of the dominant hand, and at times, you would have to move in a different manner for the other hand.27

Personal Intelligence

Personal intelligence is one of the less distinct and comparable intelligences. Personal intelligence consists of intrapersonal and interpersonal knowledge. Intrapersonal knowledge is knowledge of self—an ability to draw upon, evaluate, and symbolize your own feelings. Examples of intrapersonal experts might be a novelist or a wise elder. Interpersonal knowledge incorporates knowledge of relationships among people; the ability to notice details of others' feelings, facial expressions, and tone; and the ability to influence others. Examples of interpersonal experts are politicians, teachers, and counselors.

The frontal lobes are the meeting place between the information from the posterior regions (involved in processing sensory information, including perceptions of others) and the limbic system (involved in motivational and emotional functions). Frontal lobes are where the self meets the outside world and the knowledge of self appears to reside. Noticing body language is a major component of interpersonal knowledge. The ability to notice fine details of the face and expressions is activated in the posterior region of the right hemisphere. This is the same area used to process spatial abilities. (Spatial abilities seem to be important for most of the intelligences.)

The intimate knowledge and understanding of your inner self, combined with foresight and insight, are essential to interpersonal and intrapersonal expertise. Your emotional behavior and personality, in combination with expert evaluative skills (judgment) also are critical to your relationships with others. Figure 2-13 indicates the areas of the brain that regulate these skills.

Self-knowledge can be misleading. Take young children, for example. At the age of 6 or 7, children become concerned with the acquisition of skills and knowledge. Peer pressure and the need to please oneself and one's parents become quite influential. Influence by others that can be destructive at times may include adults and other children dissuading a young girl or boy from an interest in a nontraditional role. The child begins to doubt his or her own interests and abilities and chooses a secondary, more acceptable goal. The personal intelligence might be the one most important for each person's satisfaction with life.

Naturalist Intelligence

Lately Gardner has been considering other forms of intelligences. The newest is that of naturalist intelligence. Not much has been written about this while Dr. Gardner refines his concepts. However, this much is clear: People who possess naturalist intelligence are attuned with nature. We sus-

Figure 2-13

pect that they know the names of plants and animals. If they have auditory skills, they likely know birds by their calls. Weather is not a mystery to them. They are always aware of their surroundings and love to spend time outdoors. Their houseplants thrive, and their gardens are stunning. We look forward to learning more about the naturalist as Dr. Gardner's work progresses.


How do we acquire memories? The memory-formation system is made up of the hippocampus, the limbic thalamus, and the basal forebrain. Information is obtained through the senses, passed through the memory-formation system, and transferred to permanent storage in the outer layers of the cortex (see Figure 2-14). For information that you need on a temporary basis, nerve cells adjust existing proteins to hold the memory until you no longer need it. Then when the need is over, the neurons return to their original state, and you forget. If the information is something you want to store permanently, entirely new types of proteins are manufactured, new genes are "switched on," and permanent changes to the connections in the structure of the brain are created.28 So there is a difference in the brain's activation for a temporary piece of information, such as what you need to buy at the store, and a more permanent memory, such as your new telephone number.

Recent evidence indicates that the transfer of the information from the hippocampus to the cortex for permanent storage occurs while we sleep. For the maximum efficiency of memory transfer, you need to have deep sleep within the first two hours of sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep later in the night, preferably toward the end of the sleep cycle. The same neurons activated earlier in the day, when the information first was introduced, fire in the same pattern and appear to download the information through the neuron connections to the cortex.

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