Bridge over ocean
1 November 2013 CFA Institute Journal Review

Your Brain at Work (Digest Summary)

  1. Tokunboh Ishmael

Neurological processes may affect human behavior in the areas of management, leadership, and marketing. The authors review the dubious but popular trend of attempting to explain behavior and feelings with neuroimaging studies and introduce the more effective emerging concept of a network view of brain activity.

What’s Inside?

The authors point out that complex human behavior cannot be simply rationalized based on images of the brain. They focus on the concept that regions of the brain do not explain specific human activities in a one-to-one relationship.

Researchers in neuroscience have recently discovered neural networks and subnetworks in the human brain. The authors explain four of the networks. The first network is default, which is activated when we are at rest and detached from our immediate environment. This network processes information already known to us and plays a role in creative thinking. The second network is reward, which is aroused by enjoyment and helps to identify incentives that can be used to motivate people. The third network is affect, which plays a role in event pattern recognition and can potentially speed up decision making. This network is activated by emotions and helps explain how emotions affect decisions. The fourth network is control, which runs the other networks and balances behavior and long-term objectives. The authors posit that an understanding of these four networks and what activates each of them helps explain the state of and activities within the mind when it is engaged in different activities.

How Is This Article Useful to Practitioners?

The findings of this research can potentially be applied to improve practitioners’ ability as managers and leaders to think creatively, structure rewards, make decisions, and multitask effectively.

Abstractor’s Viewpoint

The variety and complexity of human behavior make it difficult to reduce the topic to a predictable set of rules. Even though the network view is more advanced than the single-image view, it still represents humanity’s limited, albeit insightful, understanding of the brain. Nevertheless, the network view is a good starting point for designing creative processes, incentives, decision making, and task planning.

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