TRAINING TIP 108: The Amygdala Hijack

By Edwin Pauzer posted 10-13-2017 08:22


Have you ever had the sad school experience when the teacher browbeat you for an answer with a phrase like, “I suggest you think”? If you were like me, you froze, you couldn’t remember your own name, and you couldn’t wait for this shattering, agonizing humiliation to be over with.

It’s no accident that you froze. You (and I) were experiencing the Amygdala Hijack. It’s where the amygdala, in the limbic system of the brain (also called the lizard brain) takes over, numbing the frontal lobe of the brain where reasoning, calculations, analysis and problem-solving takes place. It hijacks your brain. After all, if you’re so scared that you have to fight or run, who's going to worry about the Pythagorean Theorem?

Adrenalin begins to flow through the body sending huge amounts of blood to the muscles and extremities to give you extra strength and speed. Cortisol spreads through the body acting as an anti-inflammatory and endorphins act as a pain inhibitor, and all of this happens in 6/10th of a second.  This is your body on auto-pilot.

It’s another way of looking at training and understanding why adult learning principles are so important. Putting people at ease and establishing a positive learning environment allows the frontal lobe to operate at full capacity. Having people work in groups instead of separately fosters cooperation instead of competition, which study after study shows that people absorb more, learn faster, and remember longer.

    Dog and Cat


 All animals have an amygdala, even Daisy and Fluffy seen here.