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Community Invited to Brain Research Discussion
Posted On:
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Community Forum Set for 6 p.m., Nov. 26

Please join us on November 26 at 6:00 p.m. 


"We will share and discuss how we can use brain research to improve our relationships with others.  It is important to understand that this information will be presented in a very informal and practical fashion," invites Dr. Jeff Perry, superintendent of Hamblen County Schools. 

School Matters – Brain Research

By Dr. Jeff Perry 


A medical student visited a research facility to study the human brain and was surprised to realize the facility had human brains for sale.  All of the brains were on sale for $100 except for one.  This brain was in a special container and was on sale for $100,000.  She asked the administrators why that brain was so expensive, and the administrator stated that the brain came from a school superintendent and it was extremely valuable.  The medical student was amazed that the school superintendent’s brain was more expensive than the brain of a scientist or a physician, so she asked the administrator why there was such a large difference.  The administrator stated that the brain was so much more expensive because it was so difficult to find a superintendent who actually had a brain!


The human brain is one of the most complex and fascinating organs in the entire body.  The average human brain weighs about three pounds, or about 2% of the total body weight; however, it utilizes about 20% of the total energy produced by the human body.  The brain is comprised of about 75% water.  If the water were drained, about 60% of what is left would be fat.  The remainder is comprised of some 100 billion brain cells or neurons, gray and white matter, dendrites, axons, synapses, and a host of other supporting structures which allow us to think, process information, make decisions, be creative, speak, see, touch, feel, etc.  Basically, that incredibly small mass that is left over after the water and fat is removed is what makes us human. 


As educators, the human brain is very important to us because this is where the vast majority of the learning process will occur.  We will be more effective when we become better informed on how the human brain operates and how the learning process actually occurs.  It is important to understand that this article and subsequent presentations are not designed to be a scientific or medical journal.  I have grossly over-simplified much of the research to fit within the confines of this article and to make it easier to read.   It is my hope, however, that this information will help to better understand the nature of the human brain and how it influences our behavior, actions, thoughts, and expressions. 


Current research has clearly demonstrated that the human brain is designed and programmed to process information in very specific ways. There is a common misconception that the majority of our thought process is deliberate, conscious, and well-planned.  We often make the mistake of thinking that we can influence individuals to do what we want by simply providing them with factual information and evidence-based research.  Much of our neurological actions and subsequent behavior are actually subconsciously motivated.  Individuals are not always aware of why we exhibit specific behaviors because these actions are subconsciously created.  Often our actions are dictated by internal neurological processes which we are not entirely conscious of at that time.  


Although much of human behavior is subconsciously motivated, it doesn’t mean that we can’t influence that behavior.  Individuals who understand and use brain research are more effective at influencing others.  This is the key to any successful leader, educator, administrator, or parent.  This is actually the foundation of what each of us attempts to do on a daily basis.  We are constantly attempting to convince others to do something they may not want to do.  We ask children to clean their rooms, ask husbands to be better communicators, ask employees to implement new programs, ask staff to change paradigms, etc. In many cases, our requests are challenged for a variety of reasons.  We can use brain research to impact others and to develop stronger relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.  Once we better understand the brain and the ways it processes information, we can use this research to motivate, influence, and impact human behavior.


We will provide community members an opportunity to participate in a workshop on better understanding the human brain.  The meeting will be held in the Heritage Room at the Board of Education Office on November 26 at 6:00 p.m.  The meeting is open to all community members and educators.  As superintendent of schools, I will facilitate the meeting.


This session is designed to target three primary objectives.  First, we will explore the basic nature, composition, tendencies, and purpose of the human brain.  Second, we will discuss practical strategies, techniques, and practices that individuals can utilize to influence those around them.  Third, we will discuss how individuals can use this research to create more effective and permanent relationships with family members, children, colleagues, and staff.  Some individuals have discovered that they can use brain-compatible practices to promote desired behaviors in others instead of fighting against those natural tendencies.  This session will educate participants on how to use natural brain tendencies to their advantage.  We will discuss the teenage brain (yes – they do have a brain!), the differences between the male and female brain (yes – males have a brain also!), and the basic tendencies of the brain. 


There are numerous examples which can be shared that would demonstrate practical use of brain research.  The following is one of those examples.  There are approximately 120 different chemical and neurological differences between the female and male brain.  While these differences are not absolute, the majority of males and females will process information differently.  We need to understand these differences to produce the desired response in others or we will become frustrated with each other.  For example, the amygdala is part of the brain connected with emotions.  In many situations, the amygdala is the most powerful part of the brain because emotions will often hijack the logical and rational thought process of the brain’s prefrontal lobe.  The female amygdala is loaded with estrogen and is directly connected to the language cortex of the brain.  The male amygdala is loaded with testosterone and is connected to the motor cortex of the brain.  This difference often encourages females to verbally process information (let’s talk about it) while males will want to take a more direct course of action (how can I fix this?). 


When dealing with a highly emotional issue, it may be in the best interest of a parent, educator, or supervisor to listen to a female for a period of time and allow them to talk.  It may be better to limit the conversation and have a solution prepared when talking to a male.  It is often extremely counterproductive for a male supervisor (or parent) to abbreviate a conversation with a female and dictate a solution.   Conversely, it may produce negative results if a female supervisor (or parent) extends the conversation with a male because he may simply want to know what he needs to do to resolve the issue.  Although this difference is generally maintained, it is critical that individuals understand how these differences may impact interactions and responses.  Failure to appreciate these differences will result in decreased respect, diminished communication, and lack of connection with those in our circle of influence.


Please join us on November 26 at 6:00 p.m.  We will share and discuss how we can use brain research to improve our relationships with others.  It is important to understand that this information will be presented in a very informal and practical fashion.  Remember: School Matters!


--Jeff Perry, Superintendent

Hamblen County Schools