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17 INNOVATION How Do You Come Up With Breakthrough Ideas? What neuroscience tells us about getting the best out of yourself, your colleagues, and the boss. BY BABA SHIV The human brain is a sophisticated instrument. At its core, however, it’s nothing but the organ of an animal, prone to instinctive responses. This instinctual brain operates according to what I call the “X Framework,” a concept that emerges from studies on animal and human behavior, particularly those linking behavior to brain functioning. Like our primate relatives, humans are governed by two neural pathways that you can envision crossing in an X formation. The first takes us from a state of high physiological arousal, often manifest as anger, fear, and anxiety, and governed by the chemical cortisol, down to a place of comfort, typically produced by the calming hormone serotonin. The second moves us from a state of low physiological arousal — what we think of as boredom or apathy — toward excitement, thanks to the naturally occurring stimulant dopamine. If the brain is experiencing highly physiologically arousing emotions associated with stress, then our first instinct will be to stay away from excitement and seek comfort instead. Studies have shown that primates under stress, for Baba Shiv is Sanwa Bank, Limited, Professor of Marketing, Stanford GSB, and the R. Michael Shanahan Faculty Fellow for 2013- 14. He discusses related research at http:// Illustration by Harry Campbell