Downshifting occurs when the individual detects threat in an immediate situation and full use of the great new cerebral brain is suspended, while faster-acting, simpler brain resources take larger roles. The degree of downshifting reflects the degree of threat as perceived by the individual. (Hart, Leslie, A. Human Brain and Human Learning. NY: Longman Inc, 1983, pp 108-110)

When people feel threatened they downshift their thinking, feel helpless, don’t look at possibilities, don’t feel safe to take risks or challenge old ideas, and have limited choices for behavior. (Poole, Carolyn. Maximizing Learning: A Conversation with Renate Nummela Caine. Educational Leadership, Vol 54, No 6, March 1997.)

Any type of threat can trigger the brain to downshift. A threat is anything that triggers a sense of helplessness in the individual. (Caine, Renate Nummela, and Geoffrey Caine. Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain. VA: ASCD, 1991, pp 72, 86)

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