It was my son’s 4th birthday, and we had invited his friends home for celebrations.
There was one particular kid ( Same age as my son) that caught my attention; he was overly emotional, thrilled when he did some games we had arranged for them right, and extremely disappointed for missing even the smallest of parts of the games.
My first thought was, why is he so emotional, there must be something wrong that he had to go through during his childhood.
This thought came from my recent understanding of a special type of neurons in the brain called Spindle neurons.
Only 80,000 or our 8 billion or so neurons are Spindle cells. They are instrumental in higher level emotions.
And here is the punchline. Children are born without any spindle cells. They start acquiring it from the month 4 for through the age of 3.
There is a slightly more significant number on the right side than on the left side of the brain; this is what leads to the old belief that right part is the emotional part.
And when it comes to emotions, we are not prisoners of our emotions, but rather prisoners of our memories.
Here is why, when an event occurs, the brain looks for memory and how to react to it, and we make the same reaction.
So when a kid falls, he sees his mother panicking and he cries, whereas another kid falls, his mother displays not emotions, he gets up, dusts off and moves ahead as nothing has happened. Over time this conditions the brain on how to act next time you have a minor fall. One will stay there crying to be picked up; another one will carry on as if nothing happened.
So coming back to the kid, these wild emotional swings, I later discovered that he had lost his father with whom he was very attached to.
So is it possible that somewhere inside his tiny brain is some spindle nerves reacting to every loss as a massive loss that needs to sad for?
At least as adults, we now know, that we can change our emotions and how we react to certain emotions by merely changing the memories associated with it which are often picked up unconsciously and unwillingly.
Interesting fact: Only a few animals have spindle neurons. Gorillas have 16,000. Chimpanzees have 1600 and Whales have more than what we humans have.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/razorsmile/526249719/