Thanksgiving dinner is the time when many of us say the wrong thing to friends and relatives we haven’t seen for a long time. Are you easily embarrassed? People who AREN’T (certain politicians and actors, for instance) have a smaller region in one part of the brain than the rest of us. quotes researcher Virginia Sturm as saying,"This region is actually essential for this reaction. When you lose this region, you lose this embarrassment response." This area is deep inside your brain, and regulates many automatic bodily functions, such as sweating, heartbeat and breathing. It also regulates emotions, reward-searching behaviors (like the ones addicts have) and decision-making. The size and shape of brain regions near this one are associated with personality differences.

Other people seem to be embarrassed ALL the time. These are the shy ones. But shyness and introversion are no longer valued in a world that prizes extroversion. In the June 26th edition of the New York Times, Susan Cain notes that children’s classroom desks are now often arranged in pods, because group participation supposedly leads to better learning, and many adults work for organizations that now assign work in teams. As a society, we prefer action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt.

Studies show that we rank fast and frequent talkers as more competent, likable and even smarter than shy people. Cain says, "Yet shy and introverted people have been part of our species for a very long time, often in leadership positions. We find them in the Bible (and) we find them in recent history (too)." Some of the world’s greatest inventions (including the computer) have been the result of an introvert tinkering away alone in a basement or garage. But if you ever wonder how famous extroverts could DO those things we see on Facebook, now you know–it’s all in their brains (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show).

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