Post #3:  Two Brains in One

This is Part 3 of my four-part series on the brain and business.  Here we’ll look at Implicit vs Explicit Memory and how we form our sense of “reality”.  (Reminder, Post 1-3 of this series are more science-based, and Post 4 will tie this all together.)


The two broadest categories of memory are explicit and implicit.  Explicit memory describes conscious learning and memory, including semantic, sensory, and motor forms.  Some of these memory abilities remain just beneath the level of consciousness until we turn our attention to them.  Implicit memory is reflected in unconscious patterns of learning stored in hidden layers of neural processing, largely inaccessible to conscious awareness.  Because of the order in which they develop, implicit and explicit memory are referred to as early and late memory.  All aspects of the self are forms of implicit memory stored in neural networks that organize emotion, sensation, and behavior.  These networks are sculpted in reaction to real or imagined threats as the brain strives to predict and control its physical and social environments(1). 

"Reality" is a construction of the mind which we take to be an external truth.  Our conscious experience is a creative fiction subject to distortion.  Our brains react to internal and external stimuli in as little as 50 milliseconds, yet it takes more than 500 milliseconds for conscious awareness to occur.  In truth, we often have little or no access to the information or logic upon which we base our decisions(2).  

Human experience is mediated via two interacting processes.  The first is the expression of our evolutionary past via the organization, development, and functioning of the nervous system.  The second is the contemporary shaping of our neural architecture within the context of relationships. The rapid (and unconscious) networks of emotion shape our understanding of the world microseconds before we become aware of our perception(3).

Simplified:  Explicit = conscious, implicit = unconscious.  What does this all mean? Engagement of individuals with their environment (be it people, products, places, or otherwise) is a result of the independent data they have stored as implicit and explicit memories. 

ENGAGE:  Why should this matter to you?  Check out Post #4 (of the four-part series): Brains and Business to explore the relevance to your business.

GO FURTHER:  To read more from Louis Cozolino’s The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy, click here(1,2,3).