As a professional speaker, I have had to
overcome that fear that more people are frightened of than death.
Learning how to speak in public did not come
naturally for someone who was always painfully shy and self-conscious. As a
teenager I would go a bright shade of beetroot and visibly shrink from embarrassment,
even if simply being asked to answer a question in class in front of my peers.
So it has been a good thing to overcome and
now I have reached the point where I can even enjoy getting on stage to speak
to an audience.
But the stage fright is still there. It
varies in intensity. When less bothersome, the prepared speech will flow more
easily and eloquently. When it is being a nuisance, not only can it reduce the
natural energy of the material being presented, but also it can lead to
frustrating memory lapses, where the really salient points of a presentation
get missed out!
This is where Homer comes in.
Now Homer is a name synonymous with the
Simpsons and no one would ever accuse Homer Simpson of being terribly bright.
But researchers at the Max Planck Institute
have discovered that a protein called Homer-1 that exists in the hippocampus,
declines on exposure to acute stress. The hippocampus is the area of the brain
associated with learning and memory. The relevance of Homer-! Is that it is
associated with neuronal communication and glutamate. The falling levels reduce
our capacity to learn. In rats, five minutes of social stress was enough to
lead to impaired learning performance some hours later.
What I want to know is when will they start
bottling the stuff so that those of us what suffer from Homer depletion can get
a quick boost and restore our speaking capacity to full?
V. Wagner, Jakob Hartmann, Katharina Mangold, Xiao-Dong Wang, Christiana
Labermaier, Claudia Liebl, Miriam Wolf, Nils C. Gassen, Florian Holsboer, Theo
Rein, Marianne B. Müller & Mathias V. Schmidt. Homer1 mediates acute stress-induced cognitive deficits in the
dorsal hippocampus. Journal of
Neuroscience, February 27, 2013
Photo credit: http://bit.ly/17czJ46