Most scientists view the human brain as the most complicated system in our universe, maybe even more complex than the universe itself. When you look closely at the structure of the brain – approximately 100 billion brain cells (neurons), each with an average of 1,000 connections with other brain cells, with new connections made and the pruning of old connections ongoing – it is understandable how the brain earned its reputation of unequaled complexity.
To understand the human brain, it helps to figure out some of the rules that guide its functioning. Scientists have been working for hundreds of years to do just that. Neuroscientists at Cognitive Command Training have taken nine discovered brain principles and used them to develop our training system.
The following is a list of those nine brain principles, a short description of their purpose, how they can negatively impact policing, and how Cognitive Command Training uses them to work with the brain to make officers safer and more professional.
There is no hierarchy of importance for these brain principles, so they are listed here in alphabetical order:
THE BRAIN ALWAYS PRESUMES DANGER.
Purpose: At even the hint of danger, the backchannel (unconscious/subconscious) automatically activates the fight/flight/freeze system to ensure the officer’s best chance of survival. Everything going on in the environment is then filtered through this lens of danger.
Problem: Relying solely on the backchannel can lead to misidentifications and misperceptions, which are the cause of errors like mistake-of-fact shootings.
Training Solution: Cognitive Command Training helps officers preplan leading into an event. By slowing down and staying in cognitive control, officers can reduce misperceptions that result from quick reactions and instead plan and take tactically sound actions
THE BRAIN AUTOMATIZES BEHAVIORS.
Purpose: Having motor programs to guide automatic behaviors allows officers to take action without conscious thought or effort.
Problem: Automating unintended, secondary behaviors is problematic and can create training scars that undermine officer safety.
Training Solution: Cognitive Command structures training based on science. Our training is a scientifically tested, highly structured methodology that pairs repetitive thoughts with appropriate actions in a pattern that builds automatic, backchannel thinking to guide safe, tactically sound, professional behaviors.
THE BRAIN DETECTS PATTERNS.
Purpose: The pattern detection system in the backchannel is constantly monitoring the environment to alert the on-channel (conscious self) to dangers and anomalies.
Problem: Inexperienced or untrained officers may miss key details during a critical incident, putting themselves and others at greater risk.
Training Solution: Cognitive Command Training builds an elaborate pattern recognition system. Our training tunes the brain’s pattern detection system to a law enforcement channel to increase safety. Patterns important to policing are then detected and influence behavior in the backchannel.
THE BRAIN FILLS-IN THE GAPS.
Purpose: Noise, interruptions, and distractions interfere with the information the brain takes in and processes. But because the brain is built to fill in the gaps, officers experience their world as one seamless event.
Problem: When a signal is not accurately processed, the brain fills in the gaps based on expectations from past experiences (schemas). This can lead to misperceptions and inaccurate or false memories.
Training Solution: Cognitive Command Training limits interferences. By keeping stress and distractions low, and by identifying and describing this brain principle to increase understanding, our training helps officers limit the effects of misperceptions and inaccurate memories.
THE BRAIN IS EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT.
Purpose: Being emotionally intelligent allows officers to understand and empathize with others to build stronger social networks and increase community trust.
Problem: When emotional knowledge is in short supply, officers may not fully understand the context of a given situation and unknowingly and needlessly escalate the event.
Training Solution: Cognitive Command Training increases emotional knowledge. Our training helps officers gain a better understanding of their emotions as well as the emotions of others. This deepened understanding helps officers maintain control of themselves first so that they can better control the scene.
THE BRAIN IS HIGHLY SUGGESTIBLE.
Purpose: The influence of authority figures and important people in an officer’s life helps their brain easily correct false assumptions and memories so that misunderstandings are not propagated.
Problem: The influence of partners and supervisors can unintentionally twist facts and memories to change an officer’s perception of events.
Training Solution: Cognitive Command Training focuses awareness. We train officers to pay closer attention to details to increase situational comprehension and help officers avoid false assumptions and misperceptions during an event.
THE BRAIN IS LIMITED IN ATTENTION.
Purpose: Being able to limit attention allows officers to block out distracting or unimportant information and focus on what is most important.
Problem: Stress further limits attention, leading to tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, time distortions, and a host of other cognitive anomalies.
Training Solution: Cognitive Command Training reduces the effects of stress. Reducing stress allows officers to use situational comprehension to focus on what is most important and allows them to take action rather than react to events as they unfold.
THE BRAIN MAKES QUICK DECISIONS.
Purpose: The brain uses heuristics, or rules of thumb, to make quick decisions without much effort.
Problem: The overreliance on heuristics can lead to poor judgments and snap decisions with long-lasting ramifications for officers.
Training Solution: Cognitive Command Training cultivates tactically sound decisions. Our training ensures that the quick decisions officers are make are tactically sound and based on safety, awareness, and situational comprehension
THE BRAIN RELIES ON SCHEMAS.
Purpose: A schema is a mental framework, built through experience, that organizes information and knowledge to help officers quickly make sense of new experiences.
Problem: Stereotypes and implicit biases can lead to inappropriate actions and behaviors.
Training Solution: Cognitive Command Training constructs law enforcement schemas. Since stereotypes and implicit biases influence backchannel thinking, our training builds broad, durable law enforcement schemas in the backchannel. These law enforcement schemas then guide behaviors originating in the backchannel so that they are more appropriate and do not stem from stereotypes and biases