Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Dan Siegel, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, member of the Dr. Phil Advisory Board and author of the book, The Mindful Brain. He says, "In The Mindful Brain, you talk about the fact that when the yelling starts, there's a part of the brain that goes offline, just shuts down."
"The brain in our skull has a part right behind the forehead called the prefrontal cortex. It allows us to think and pause before we act," Dr. Siegel explains. He points to the area he is speaking about on a model brain. "It's what makes us human. It lets us think, and plan and actually look at other people and think about what's going on inside of them."
"This is what houses the reasoning centers," Dr. Phil adds. "What do you mean this goes offline?"
Pointing inside the brain, Dr. Siegel says, "This is where the more animalistic or emotional brain is centered, down here. In general, our higher human brain controls that, but if we get really upset, if these emotional centers are getting active, it will literally shut that off, and this won't be functioning. What do you think life is like if we try to talk to each other just from an animal brain?"
Dr. Phil clarifies, "When you start yelling, these other centers become pervasive. They growl up and take control, and so all reasoning stops. Now, it's animalistic: attack, fight, flight, survive, and that's not a problem-solving mode." He also points out that the adolescent brain is different than an adult brain because it's not finished growing. "What's missing here?" he asks Dr. Siegel.
"From childhood to adulthood the prefrontal cortex, especially, is going to be growing a lot," he explains. "In an adolescent " for someone who's 16 " you've got a lot of growth yet to go, even into the mid 20s." He adds that an adolescent's brain can go offline more easily.