Illustration of the brain and the Reticular Activating System (RAS)


competency based coaching Jan 14, 2022

Your brain has numerous parts which affect how you react or perceive information. These parts also affect your behaviour towards different phenomena you interact with within your daily life. It includes how you notice changes, such as when an individual purchases a pet, car, or clothing. Also known as the ascending arousal system, Reticular Activating System (RAS) is part of the reticular formation component in the human brain and is situated throughout the brainstem (Garcia-Rill et al. 230). Several neural circuits between the cortex and brainstem constitute the RAS. The major roles of the RAS are promoting vigilance, consciousness, and arousal. All these functions are related to your ability to be attentive towards something or someone that interests you (Yeo et al.). RAS identifies what is important to you through these roles, thus forcing you to prefer certain information over others. It sifts through the information in your brain and specifically presents the essential pieces to you.

Your RAS can easily be described as a bundle of nerves within your brainstem that allows important information to go through and filters out information that is regarded to be unnecessary (Yeo et al.). This section of your brain is the reason behind you learning a new word and then progressively hearing it everywhere. It also enables you to concentrate on a group of talking individuals and immediately become attentive when someone calls you or says a word that sounds like your name. Your RAS programs itself to work in your favour even if you do not do anything to influence its actions (Murray et al. 77). For instance, when there are numerous bikes displayed in front of you, this section of your brain will work in your favour by scanning through all of them and selecting the one that interests you or the new one depending on what you find interesting among them.

Similarly, RAS searches info that confirms your perceptions. This section of your brain filters all information around the world basing on the limits you set, and your beliefs control these limits (Heise 44). Therefore, through the RAS, you can control what you believe you can do and what you cannot. For instance, if you think you are not good at advising others, you will probably be bad. Similarly, if you believe that you can deliver a good speech, you are most likely to achieve it. Therefore, the RAS affects your actions by helping you see what you want to see.

Psychologists suggest that you can teach your RAS by obtaining your subconscious thought and connecting them to your conscious ones through a process called “setting your intent” (Maldonato et al. 213). This essentially depicts that by focusing specifically on your objectives, your RAS will present the opportunities, information, and individuals that can assist you in attaining them. When you set your intention to be succeeding in your studies or competitions, your RAS will present you with specific things such as group discussion, reading, and practicing that will enable you to succeed (Dietrich et al. 388). Similarly, when you value positivity, you will seek and become more of it. Therefore, if you wish to deliver success, you can train your RAS by immersing yourself in the subject matter and getting your brain to identify how much it means to you.

From another perspective of the law of attraction, when you focus on bad things, you are likely to attract negative things to your life. For instance, when you focus on pain, you will attract it to your life. Quite differently, good things will come to you when you focus on them as your brain searches for them (Wijdicks 420). For example, if you focus on happiness, you will attract it to you. It is simply the RAS influencing the things you perceive around you.

When training your RAS to achieve what you want, research suggests that you should follow three essential steps (Garcia-Rill et al. 233). First, contemplate on the situation or goal that you intend to influence. This contemplation can entail thinking of a certain success you wish to achieve, such as academic excellence or a job promotion. Next, you should think of the result or experience you plan to attain concerning the situation or goal. Finally, you build a mental movie of how you portray the situation or goal becoming in the future. While engaging in this final step, you should notice the details, visuals, conversations, and sounds of your mental movie. Additionally, you should replay it severally within your head.

Knowing how you can use your RAS to unlock your potential and attain success is applicable within the coaching context as coaches can utilise it to help their clients (Passmore 30). Here, the coached individual is often unaware of the different ways they can use to attain their success. Despite their potential to attain success, they may not achieve it as they do not know how to set their goals and achieve them (Bresser and Wilson 15). Coaches can utilise knowledge on RAS’s functioning to guide them by thinking of the objectives they intend to influence, the result or experience regarding it, and developing the mental movie. Thus, the coached individuals will effectively attain success as they will achieve their intended objectives (Morris and Cheetham 34). This knowledge will make the coaches’ roles easier to guide their clients to set their intends and focus on attaining them.



Works Cited

Bresser, Frank, and Carol Wilson. “What Is Coaching.” Excellence in Coaching: The Industry Guide, vol. 2, 2010, pp. 9-20.

Dietrich, Arne, et al. “The Reticular-Activating Hypofrontality (RAH) Model.” Handbook of Sport Neuroscience and Psychophysiology, Routledge, 2018, pp. 385-396.

Garcia-Rill, Edgar, et al. “Coherence and Frequency in the Reticular Activating System (RAS).” Sleep Medicine Reviews, vol. 17, no. 3, 2013, pp. 227-238.

Heise, Angela. “Mindset: The Power of Perception.” LSJ: Law Society of NSW Journal, no. 69, 2020, p. 44.

Maldonato, Mauro, et al. “Rethinking Consciousness: Some Hypothesis on the Role of the Ascending Reticular Activating System in the Global Workspace.” WIRN, vol. 11, 2011, pp. 212-219.

Morris, Craig, and Richard Cheetham. “British Canoeing Canoe Slalom Challenge Cards: A Pilot Study into Their Potential for Coach and Athlete Development.” Applied Coaching Research Journal, vol. 6, 2020, pp. 32-37.

Murray, Andrea L., et al. “White Matter Abnormalities and Impaired Attention Abilities in Children Born Very Preterm.” Neuroimage, vol. 124, 2016, pp. 75-84.

Passmore, Jonathan, ed. Excellence in Coaching: The Industry Guide. Kogan Page Publishers, 2015.

Wijdicks, Eelco. “The Ascending Reticular Activating System.” Neurocritical Care, vol. 31, no. 2, 2019, pp. 419-422.

Yeo, Sang Seok, et al. “The Ascending Reticular Activating System from Pontine Reticular Formation to the Thalamus in the Human Brain.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 7, 2013.

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