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How Relational Neuroscience Increases Empathy and Understanding for People of Different Races and Cultures

Posted by PCC Institute for Health Professionals on March 29, 2023

Understanding how your brain and nervous system functions helps to explain your physiological and psychological reactions to personal situations. In addition, gaining insight into the impact your social relationships have on your life is critical to understanding why you do the things you do. This knowledge then provides a basis for creating empathy in you toward other people and their motivations. 

The following article briefly describes relational neuroscience. You will also learn how studying this branch of knowledge helps you develop greater empathy toward people from other cultures and how they fit into U.S. culture. 

What Is Interpersonal Neurobiology (Relational Neuroscience)? 

To clarify terms used in this discussion, Interpersonal Neurobiology and Relational Neuroscience both refer to the same branch of knowledge. Interpersonal Neurobiology (known as IPNB) is the study of how your brain works and develops throughout your life. IPNB also teaches how your brain development impacts social relationships. 

In contrast, clinical neuroscience has three main types of study. Developmental neuroscience studies how the human brain physically grows, develops, and changes throughout a person's life. Cognitive neuroscience studies how the human brain: 

  • Controls thought processes 
  • Develops language 
  • Solves problems 
  • Stores memories 

Molecular and cellular neuroscience studies how the brain's neurons function through genes, proteins, and molecules. 

How Does IPNB Increase Understanding of Others? 

Understanding why other people react the way they do imparts important pieces to the human puzzle of personal interactions. For example, the brain's prefrontal cortex regulates human emotions, cognitive thinking, and behavior. The all-important prefrontal cortex is the last part of the human brain to fully develop, which does not occur until a human reaches their mid-to-late-20s. That knowledge makes it easier to understand the frailties of young adolescents. 

Perhaps you are curious why your employees or your manager behave the way they do. Or maybe you want to understand why your spouse or your children interact as they do. IPNB untangles the mystery of how the body intersects with the mind and the social relationships around each person. 

IPNB helps you understand the struggles you face in social relationships. IPNB increases the empathy you feel towards others in your orbit and your professional life. When you develop empathy for others, it is easier to understand the struggles people from other races and cultures face while living in the U.S. or assimilate into its culture.  

How Does Portland Community College's IPNB Course Benefit You? 

Strong people skills require work, not only experience. Strong personal skills can help you win a promotion, receive job recognition, or get along better with managers, co-workers, and clients. IPNB creates a positive impact is for those in the following careers: 

  • Educators 
  • Healthcare workers 
  • Law enforcement and first responders 
  • Business leaders 

Portland Community College (PCC) offers a Certificate program in Foundations of Interpersonal Neurobiology. The program teaches participants to apply "an interdisciplinary framework" to professional activities. IPNB can help you better understand the following situations: 

  • The obstacles your clients face in living stable and coherent lives 
  • How to help clients improve social relationships and interpersonal communication 
  • How teachers can reach students dealing with past traumas 
  • Teach business leaders how to create strong teams 

PCC's Institute for Health Professionals IPNB course is a non-credit course that takes seven months to complete. It includes multiple interactive courses that rely on live-streaming classes, student engagement, discussion boards, and a four-day weekend intensive session in-person in Portland, OR. In all, you will spend 125 class hours over two terms. 

Moving Forward  

The PCC's IPNB course combines studies in neuroscience, psychology, environmental impacts, relationships, and complexity theory to encourage innovative thinking and self-organization. The course teaches students how humans: 

  • Learn 
  • Resolve trauma 
  • Settle conflicts 
  • Improve Relationships 
  • How the brain and mind develop throughout a person's lifetime 

We invite you to visit us today to learn more about the IPNB course and how it can benefit you in your personal life and career! 

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