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Music, Rhythm, and the Brain

Music is part of our life. Music has had deep roots in human culture throughout history. Listening to, enjoying, or playing music sometimes gives us pleasure, sadness, comfort, and even touches us deeply, causing life-changing experiences. Why does music have such a powerful affect on our brain? [ … ]

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Balance Your Energy … And Your Brain

Calmness and assertiveness are the energies of the two main branches of our autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system plays a major role in sensory awareness, emotions, behaviors, and basic organ-system functioning. Its two main branches are the sympathetic and parasympathetic, and they are managed by subcortical brain structures. [ … ]

aging

This Is Your Brain on Stress

Hey there. It’s me, your brain. Thanks for taking me on this walk in the woods, it’s just what I needed. Ah, nature. So lovely. So relaxing. Wait, wow, what was that noise? Over there, coming from those bushes right next to the path? That huge thing covered in black fur, rearing up on its hind legs and baring its teeth? A bear, you say? Okay. No problem. [ … ]

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At A Loss for Words: Your Brain on Writer’s Block

He’d lost his magic. The impulse was spent. His talent was dead.” So opens “The Humbling,” one of the last novels by celebrated author Philip Roth. Although it tells the story of a washed up stage actor at the end of his career, these three short sentences sum up what every writer dreads the most — losing whatever it is that drives them to write every day, finding themselves unable to do the very thing that keeps them relevant. [ … ]

aging

The Mind Always Grows

“Grams, are you still growing?” my 4-year-old grandson recently asked me. Did his parents tell him that when you get older you stop growing, i.e., that you don’t get taller? Or did he think that because one of his grandparents had passed away a few weeks earlier [ … ]

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Epigenetics: Where Consciousness Meets DNA

The study of epigenetics is illuminating more of the intricacies of how our genes affect, and are affected by, our life. “Epi” comes from Greek, meaning “upon,” “over,” or “near,” so epigenetics is the study of mechanisms “on top of” or “near” the classical mechanisms that affect gene expression. I [ … ]

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Dreaming on Demand: Becoming A Lucid Dreamer

Lucid dreaming is the act of dreaming while maintaining consciousness during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. This type of dreaming allows you to tell yourself that “you are dreaming” without waking up. Awake consciousness, if used correctly, gives one the opportunity to keep on participating in the dream while defining it to be something else. [ … ]