by Sandi Bhutella
Ever wonder why you can study for a couple hours, do really well on a test, think you’re smart, and then celebrate by taking your mom and dad’s car out for a joyride only to wrap it around a pole? Something so smart followed by something so stupid. Well I’ve been doing some research on the subject of the brain, and I’ve come across some interesting explanations as to why we do these things. And what I’ve found out… may shock you. DUN DUN DUUUH!!!
The reason for this lack of common sense can be blamed on something in your brain called the amygdala. Take your time… sound it out. The amygdala is a small almond shaped thing in the back of your head that’s responsible for how you respond to the natural stimuli that surrounds you all the time whether it’s anger, avoidance, defensiveness or fear. Do you feel like you’re reading a biology textbook yet? I’ll translate: This stupid nut-thing stuck in the back of our brain makes us act before we think about the consequences. It’s because of this that you can do something really ‘smart’ one minute (like acing a test or kicking butt in Jeopardy), and then do something really ‘stupid’ the next like wrapping the car around a pole.
This combined with the fact that our frontal lobes don’t fully develop until the age of 20 or so, and you have an additional brain fart to deal with. The frontal lobes are the executive centers of the brain that are responsible for planning, organizing and anticipating the consequences of our actions. Geez, between our amygdala working hard to make sure we make stupid decisions, and our frontal lobes slacking off and not giving us any indication of what could happen if we did do something stupid, it’s no wonder we’re always getting into so much trouble.
Sometimes these knee-jerk reactions can lead to good things though. If it weren’t for my brain having a mind of its own, I probably never would have had the guts to make a move on Charlotte. I also wouldn’t have had the courage to audition for a band when I really don’t know that much about playing the guitar. But, because I’m not really thinking about the consequences of my actions, I guess I became a bit more spontaneous.
Obviously you’re going to do some stupid things when you’re a teenager. You’ll probably continue to do some stupid things well into adulthood. The important thing to remember while making all of these stupid decisions are the words of Issac Newton: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” This rule doesn’t just apply to physics, but to life as well. No matter what you do it is going to affect your life in some way down the road. Be careful not to let what may seem like a good idea right now totally screw you over in the end.
I hope that helps clear some stuff up.
Dr. Sandi Bhutella, MD.