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A Vision of Gratitude

[todaysdate]

By Kimberly Burnham

Vision has several components. What we see depends on the health of our eyeballs. What we notice and are aware of depends on the retina, the macula, the optic nerves and the brain tissue that makes up the visual apparatus. How we interpret what we see depends on the health of our occipital lobe or visual cortex at the back of the head. How we act on what we see, communicate and interpret depends on our experience of life and the signals we send to our muscles. These functions are all related and all necessary components of vision both real and literal eyesight as well as metaphorical vision.

I am particularly grateful for my eyesight and vision of the world because as a 28 year-old photographer, an ophthalmologist predicted that I might become blind from a genetic condition. I probably still have the condition, keratoconus, but I have found solutions for my visual issues and have better vision now than when I was diagnosed. I don’t know the size of my grey mater but I know that I am grateful for so much in my life.

A friend and psychologist once said, “If you want to know what your subconscious is thinking look at your life.” This research indicates that if you want to know how big your brain is, particularly the grey matter or cortex you should look at your attitudes towards others and towards life.

How big is your right inferior temporal lobe? How big is your posterior cortical brain system or the visual cortex?

  • Zahn and G. Garrido in a 2014 study of healthy individual in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience said, “Individuals with smaller cuneus [occipital lobe] and precuneus [superior parietal lobe] volumes were more pride-prone, whereas those with larger right inferior temporal volumes experienced gratitude more readily. Grey matter volume differences between healthy individuals and may play an important role by affecting posterior cortical brain systems that are non-critical but supportive for the experience of specific moral sentiments. This may be of particular relevance when their experience depends on visuo-spatial elaboration.”

Researchers also noted that “proneness to specific moral sentiments (e.g. pride, gratitude, guilt, or indignation) has been linked with individual variations in functional MRI response within anterior brain regions whose lesion leads to inappropriate behavior.”

What if you could reverse engineer your brain? What would that look like? What would it feel like?

To expand your occipital lobe or visual cortex express less pride and more humility. I think it is an interesting question whether expressing more humility can improve your vision, which is centered in your occipital lobe.

To expand your temporal lobe or auditory cortex express more gratitude. Our temporal lobe is the center of our hearing and balance as well as other sensations. In Osteopathic Manual Medicine the temporal lobes and temporal bones on the sides of the head are correlated with the hip bones. What if expressing more gratitude could improve your hearing, balance and hip function?

To expand your parietal lobes express more humility. The parietal lobe is the sensory and motor center of the brain. Signals go back and forth from the parietal lobe to the body carrying information about body sensations, including what you are touching, textures you are feeling and significantly affects muscle function.

Is your brain going to function better as a result of how you celebrate your thankfulness this year?

 



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