Making a Plan: Mapping the Brain

The brain is a remarkable instrument. When you consider how miraculous it is that we statistically even exist, let alone the fact that we have to incredible gift of free will and cognition, there is something incredibly poignant about understanding how our brains are used to shape and contemplate our day-to-day experiences.

bigbrain 3D visuzalization section with audio

This does not mean that our minds are without limitations. But when we consider the way our brains take in sensory information, and interprets the information we take in to make sense of the world and shape our decisions; it is mind-numbing to try to keep track of all of the critical layers, functions and cognitive processes that work together to shape our well-being.

Some researchers view our cognitive mechanisms as a linear processes (simply stimulus and response). Through this lens, the brain takes our ideas and sorts them out in order to formulate the input it takes in and convert it into our perceptions the way that a computer does. They believe that changing inputs (sensory experiences like a sight, or touch, or smell) logically translates our sensory input into output (e.g. sensations, attitudes, behaviors, beliefs) and then catalogs it into the information we consciously and subconsciously use.


But more often than not, our mental maps do not account for the variety of factors that determine how we assign value (or weight) to the information we take in, how we filter noise, make decisions, or even how emotions like fear, loss and hope can improve or impair our ability to think clearly. How often do we even take the time to consider how the long-term patterning of such factors impacts our long-term ability to make effective decisions or to even perform familiar tasks?

What many people do not realize, is that the stigmas associated with cognitive failure, lack of healthy models, and bias associated with being unaware of how our brain works, can often have tremendous consequences. Uninformed choices impact our day-to-day lifestyle decisions, how and what we choose to work on, and even underlies the cognitive processes that determine the way we treat others, in addition to ourselves. It is in fact, this correctable ignorance that often shapes our perceptions of our world, each other, and our state of personal and public health.

One of the goals of the NeuroTrust is to assume responsibility for collecting and crafting better information that can be used to improve the ways we make sense of the world.

By learning how to make sense of researchers more up-to-date models of behavior and the ways that our actions impact our body and brain, we can begin to generate mental maps that can be used to equip people to lead healthier, happier lives. We can also create a platform where aspiring artists, researchers, and community educators can collectively build useful interpretations of these models, so that we can learn together and build better relationships in ways that are healthy for the people we serve, but also in ways that our healthy for our brain.

Burnout and compassion fatigue are two of the most prevalent issues in the nonprofit world (which we’ll touch on later). And we don’t realize how our uninformed approaches to the ways in which we try to help people can trigger defensiveness or how systems of outdated approaches result in the fear, failing systems, and resentment that hinder our work.

By creating solutions based upon neuroscience and brain-imaging technologies, then learning how to design imagery and programs that uses this new information, we can:

  • improve the efficacy of our approaches,
  • improve the quality of our work
  • and improve the lives of the people we serve.

When we look at how maps are designed, we generally find a woven network of different processes and systems. The images are diagrammed separately so that we can understand all of the parts that affect how the entire whole functions. Then the images are stacked on top of each other with overlays so that we can navigate how to work through these process simply to get there and back again.

Likewise, when we learn how the various diagrams and visual images of the brain match up with the experiences and behaviors that we, ourselves, experience, we can begin to make sense of the world through a whole new lens and live in ways that are healthy more and productive for the brain.


By equipping the members of our network with the information that they need to make useful and informed choices, we believe that the NeuroTrust has the potential to lead the way in NextGeneration scientific illustration, effective lifestyle planning, and real-time, user-experience (UX) design.