5 Behaviors to Improve Brain Plasticity

Are you a creature of habit? I am not referring to toilet paper brands. If your closest acquaintances can predict your daily routine, then it is time for some mind limbering.

  1. Break habits, rearrange daily tasks, and create new routines.
  2. Update your mind’s playbook.  Revisit your schema and update your outlook, a.k.a. your book of rules.
  3. Now for the workout…engage your prefrontal cortex.  Participate in new activities, not in your daily routine.
  4. Recognize and accept all of your emotions.  Ride the roller coaster!  According to a Duke University study, denying one’s emotions is a culprit for addictive behaviors.
  5. Change your focus throughout the day.  Allow your mind time to relax and your emotions change.

Mind limbering is stimulating. Go ahead, create some new neural pathways and feel the difference!

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Please Protect Our Vulnerable

“Hello, Grandpa?”
“Yes. _______. Is that you? Are you OK?”
“I’m in New York and I am in a bit of trouble. I need some cash, Grandpa. Can you help me?”….

This is only one of several disturbing phone calls that are circulating. The phone numbers’ area codes always match the area from which the caller is supposedly calling.

How do we protect our vulnerable?  When my boys were toddlers, I assigned them a family password.  The password was our secret code and a quick way of assessing the boys’ safety.  We rehearsed the password until it was second-nature.  The password was fun and easy for a toddler to remember.  Better yet, it was even harder for a teen or young adult to forget!  We never had to use the password while the boys were young.

However, the password was recently used when the boys’ grandfather received a harried phone call and needed reassurance the young men were safe and sound.  A one-word response to a text, email, or phone call is all the peace of mind needed sometimes.

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5 Ways to Identify Contemporary Criminal Behavior

Introductory criminal justice and behavioral sciences courses will often focus on an individualistic approach to defining criminal behavior. Both professionals and scientist spend many man hours searching for clues pointing to the individual’s reason for maladjusted behavior. Ironically, this approach to criminal behavior is the least productive. Sociologists continually stress relationships among and between individuals and society, while looking for answers to the conundrum of behavioral anomalies. Although I do not always agree with their views and interpretations, they have indirectly recognized the right approach to identifying criminal behavior.

Associations, patterns, and relationships are not to be overlooked. What do these have in common? Feedback, it is an integral part to the establishment of successful criminal behavior.
1. Criminal minded individuals conduct research and plan. However simplistic or complex it may be, depends on the person’s cognitive abilities. Criminals do not reinvent the wheel. They look to what others have done while successfully evading or “working” the legal system.
2. Depending on the crime type and circumstances surrounding the crime, criminal minds disassociate themselves from victims and victims’ behaviors. Spontaneous crimes and crimes of passion involve less planning and more compensation during the criminal activity.
3. Criminal minded individuals often exchange and transfer their negative behaviors flawlessly. The results may elude to second guessing and rabbit hole searches by victims and professionals, alike.
4. Most importantly, criminal minded individuals evaluate all actions and responses directed away from and towards them, a.k.a. FEEDBACK. Indirect methods of interrogation and collection of behavioral cues are paramount to identifying and attempting to manipulate this type of behavior.
5. Lastly, successful criminals are proactive with minimal reactive tendencies.

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May I Have Your Attention Please

Cognitive interviews are often preferred because of the explicit information attained. An interviewer will typically focus on temporal and spatial questions to elicit this information. So, once your interviewee’s descriptive verbiage begins, how do you know if you are receiving completely accurate information?
Ramp up the cognitive load and the verbal and nonverbal deceptive cues will emerge! Whoa, not so fast. What if your interviewee is completely comfortable telling tall tales? Requesting temporal and spatial details may not trigger extra cognitive load. They may rely on

established schema or rehearsed scenarios to dilute the effects of extra mental strain.
However, splitting their attention may do the trick. Diverge from maintaining eye contact and flip flop around with questions that do not seem to follow a normal sequence. This split-attention effect will make relying on schema more difficult and “new” scenarios will need to be created, for those interviewees with deceptive tendencies. In turn, cognitive load will be induced and deceptive cues will emerge.
What about interviewees telling the truth? This technique will also induce mental strain, but most truth tellers usually respond to cognitive load with less descriptive and shorter answers. If they receive positive feedback from the interviewer, the cognitive load will also be lessened. Unlike the deceptive interviewee, the truthful interviewee is not pressured to monitor feedback, verbiage, and possible deceptive cues.

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The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

Anyone who has ever testified in court as a witness has sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.  Does this mean all testimonies given in a court of law are 100% truthful?  Well, the intent is usually to tell the truth, but testimonies sometimes turn and go down a slippery slope.  Honorable intentions are not necessarily impervious to deception.  Knowing the difference between deception and a lie is a good place to start.

During the art of persuasion, deception may interject by way of fabrications, exaggerations, omission of details, misleading information, or speculation.  Lies, on the other hand, are intentional falsifications.  Think of a mountain with steep north and south sides, and sloping east and west sides.  Denials are deliberate falsifications or lies, located on the opposite, steep side of the mountain, from truthful statements.  Fabricated statements may contain both truthful and false elements; therefore, placing fabrications on the sloping east/west sides of the mountain.

A person can begin a testimony on the truthful side of the mountain and easily move to the steep east or west sides of deception, by using speculation, omission, misleading, and exaggeration (S.O.M.E.) of details or wording.  As an expert witness, be careful not to accidentally slip.

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