All Stories

Anxiety: I See A Lot of It

As a psychiatrist, I’m impressed by how ubiquitous anxiety is. Yesterday, when I attended a women’s faculty meeting, the featured speaker, a leading professor and researcher in cardiology, described her arduous road to the top. Her credentials and accomplishments were outstanding in every way. [ … ]

aging

Why Sleep is So Important for Your Brain

Henry David Thoreau is quoted as saying, “Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” I would revise this statement by replacing “happiness” with “sleep” [ … ]

All Stories

Notes to Live By: Why Your Brain Craves Music

Music isn’t essential for our survival. You won’t die if you go without listening for a week, and it’s not necessary for procreation. So why does your brain crave music? In an issue of Science, neuroscientists reported that music triggers activity in the nucleus accumbens, the same brain structure that releases dopamine, the “pleasure chemical,” during sex and eating. [ … ]

All Stories

A Look at the Write Brain

Verbal language of some sort has likely been part of the human experience since the dawn of Homo sapiens. Writing, on the other hand, is not innately part of the human brain’s repertoire of behaviors. All human cultures include speech, but not all have written language, and, even today [ … ]

All Stories

The Influence of Disgust on Morality

Morality is thought to rely on emotions, and disgust is one of them. In a legal system where guilt is not only determined by the existence of hard evidence but also by one’s intention to do harm, emotional persuasion weighs heavily on all parties. In court, moral decisions abound from the moment [ … ]

aging

How Hormones Help Your Body

The body produces the chemicals we call hormones to control all kinds of body functions. Glands, the organs that secrete hormones, make up the endocrine system, which helps to regulate functions such as growth, metabolism, and reproduction. Imagine hormones as the Pony Express of the body [ … ]

All Stories

Sometimes When We Touch

The skin is our largest organ. Its nerve endings and pressure receptors are tactile pathways, activated through touch, which our brain uses to interpret and explore the world around us. But recent research suggests that the brain’s response to touch serves an even wider purpose, providing [ … ]

All Stories

My Life With Tourette’s

I was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome in third grade, so each tap was a tic. TS is a genetic disorder that most experts believe is caused by nerve cells in the brain improperly releasing a neurotransmitter called dopamine. In every human brain, dopamine is a chemical messenger that nerve cells [ … ]