Brain Science

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Brain Science, for the curious! We're exploring the human brain to understand behavior change, habit formation & mental health


Brain Science Brain Science #29

Clarity and expectation

When you lack clarity or have uncertainty for a direction or goal, it’s going to be difficult to succeed in your actions. Today Mireille and Adam discuss the topic of clear communication and expectation, two of the most important ingredients of success. How do we create better clarity? Like so many things — clarity begins with awareness, and awareness of yourself. You have to know what you want and what you value in life. We must assume 100% responsibility for creating our own clarity in our lives. After all, “if you don’t have clarity, you are operating from assumption.”

Brain Science Brain Science #28

Dealing with conflict

Conflict is a part of everyday life. If you are connected to other humans, conflict will eventually occur. But what exactly is conflict? Where does it begin? How can it be resolved? In this episode, Mireille and Adam dive deep into those details to examine the framework of conflict end-to-end, to hopefully equip us with the tactics and skills we need to better navigate and resolve the conflict we encounter in our lives.

Brain Science Brain Science #27

What does it mean to be Indistractible?

Distractions will always exist – managing them is our responsibility. We often talk about the need for new information in order to change the old patterns of our brain. One of the best ways we can do this is through reading good books. In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the highlights of Nir Eyal’s book, Indistractible – how to control your attention and choose your life. In his book, Nir highlights this clear connection between people’s distraction and its relationship to psychological discomfort, otherwise known as pain. He says, “all behaviors, whether they tend toward traction or distraction are prompted by triggers, internal or external. When we learn how to recognize these “triggers,” there is opportunity for change. And changing in the direction that you desire, as based on what you value, is key to having the life you want to live.

Brain Science Brain Science #26

It all begins with empathy

Have you heard the phrase, “Put yourself in their shoes?” In this episode, the conversation focuses on the “HOW” and why it all begins with empathy. Empathy is the key that enables access to another person’s perspective and emotional state. It is also a fundamental aspect of building and sustaining relationships with others. The fascinating thing is that there are 3 types of empathy: cognitive, social, and empathic concern. Plus there’s a counterpart component called compassion that moves us to take action.

Brain Science Brain Science #25

The science behind caffeine

Today’s episode features our very first guest. We’re joined by Danielle Rath, a notable expert and product developer in the caffeine and energy drink industry. Danielle is the founder of GreenEyedGuide Research and Consulting where she shares science-based information about energy drinks and caffeine, and helps people and companies where fatigue and caffeine use are prevalent. In this lengthly episode, we talk through all aspects of the science behind caffeine — its chemical structure and half-life, where and how it’s being used, the good, bad, and the ugly, as well as practical advice for everyday consumption. If you consume caffeine of any sort, this is a must listen episode.

Brain Science Brain Science #24

Cognitive distortions

How reflective are you with the thoughts you think? In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through a few more cognitive distortions. These “distortions” are general tendencies or patterns of thinking that are false or inaccurate, which also have the potential to cause psychological damage. Generally speaking, people develop cognitive distortions as a way of coping with adverse life events. The more prolonged and severe those adverse events are, the more likely it is that one or more cognitive distortions will form. By recognizing these patterns in our thoughts and possibly how, when, or why we’re prone to use them, like many things, we create the opportunity to change them.

Brain Science Brain Science #22

The Neuroscience of touch

How much do you focus on your sense of touch? Have you ever considered how or why this sense is so critical to our lives and how we manage ourselves? In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the neurophysiological underpinnings of our sense of touch and how our brains process these sensory experiences. According to David Linden, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “The sense of touch is intrinsically emotional.”

Not only is touch relevant to our emotional experience, but it is a foundational aspect of the development of our nervous system and it impacts how we manage stress and respond to pain. It isn’t surprising then to consider that touch is also extremely relevant to our relationships as we are apt to feel more connected to those with whom we engage in touch.

Brain Science Brain Science #21

The power of story

Researchers have examined the power of story and discovered the way in which stories provide a framework that has the capacity to transcend language for universal understanding. According to Joe Lazauskas, “Stories illuminate the city of our mind…stories make us remember and they make us care.” In this episode we dive deep into the power of story to explore the ways in which stories play a role in our emotions and in our relationships with others.

Brain Science Brain Science #20

Navigating perfectionism

High expectations for performance in both life and work are common, but what do you do when you get stuck and you’re not able to achieve the results you desire? In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through the different aspects of perfectionism and ways in which is can be adaptive and helpful and other ways in which it poses additional challenges. What happens when we avoid the possibility of failure as opposed to simply having high standards for our performance? How can we begin to focus on healthy striving as opposed to reaching for perfection?

Brain Science Brain Science #19

Step away to get unstuck

In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through the challenge of problem solving. It’s all to common to utilize the “try harder” approach when things aren’t working out the way you’d like. While that kind of effort is valuable, this approach is often wrought with further frustration, wasted time and less than desirable results. This episode offers you an alternative perspective and ways that you can practice getting unstuck and utilize more of the resources of your unconscious mind.

Brain Science Brain Science #18

Building resiliency

In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the importance of building resiliency and how we can build skills to navigate unexpected and unwanted adversities. Fundamentally, we are designed to adapt out of a place of survival. Given that, we have to learn how to manage our fear while building awareness of the perceptions we have so that we can learn how to be both flexible and calm. Not surprising, we also talk about the way in which our relationships with others help us buffer the challenges better so that we are able to remain calmer and henceforth, see the opportunities within the obstacles.

Brain Science Brain Science #17

Start with gratitude

It’s been said that happy people are thankful, but maybe it’s the other way around. Thankful people are happy. In this episode we discuss the value of and the way that practicing gratitude can improve your overall outlook and mental health. Mireille and Adam talk through some of the underlying neuropsychological aspects of this habit including the key brain structures and neurotransmitters that are affected by practicing this routinely. This is one show that will pay–over and over again–that is, if you’re willing to put the knowledge into practice. Just how “happy” do you want to feel?

Brain Science Brain Science #16

Developing a mental framework

The quality of your thinking depends on your mental framework. To become a better thinker you need to have an understanding of this mental framework and how you view the world. But, what exactly is a mental framework? How have we all been programmed throughout our lives? In what ways have you been programed that you like, don’t like, or want to change? Join us as we explore and examine the key components of developing a mental framework.

Brain Science Brain Science #15

Working from home

Given all of the recent changes and adjustments many individuals have made to working remotely, Mireille and Adam discuss some of the relevant aspects of working from home. How do you develop habits that work for you to be the most productive? Which factors make a difference to be successful in navigating challenges that emerge and how can you develop ways of staying socially connected while being physically distant?

Brain Science Brain Science #14

Memory and learning

Mireille and Adam discuss the process of forming memories, the various types of memory, anxieties, phobias, panic attacks, and how our attention and our memory relates to learning. Where you place your attention influences what you might remember. What you are able to remember influences how you feel, the choices you make, and your future outcomes.

Brain Science Brain Science #13

Brace for turbulence

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak being declared a global pandemic and a national emergency here in the United States as well as many other countries around the world, it would be extremely difficult to have a serious conversation here on Brain Science that’s not colored by today’s very serious events. Mireille and Adam discuss the anxiety, fear, and panic that many may be facing. How do we navigate the unseeable unknown? How should we respond to change and the state of the world we are now living in?

Don’t panic. Prepare for change. Be adaptable. Be resilient.

Brain Science Brain Science #11

Competing for attention

Mireille and Adam discuss the mechanism of attention as an allocation of one’s resources. If we can think of attention as that of a lens, we can practice choosing what we give our attention to recognizing that multiple things, both externally and internally, routinely compete for our attention. Distraction can also be useful when we utilize it intentionally to manage the focus of our attention.

Brain Science Brain Science #8

The mechanics of goal setting

Mireille and Adam discuss goal setting and the different types of goals we set. We reflect on how can you set goals that work for you and measure them. We also talk about how you go about building the behaviors that align with your identity and resistance we face when we do this. We also share our 2020 goal for Brain Science. This is a must-listen episode to get a grounded perspective in planning your goals for this year and decade.

Brain Science Brain Science #6

Respect, empathy, and compassion

Mireille and Adam discuss empathy, respect, and compassion and the role each of these interpersonal constructs play in strengthening our relationships, both personally and professionally. What exactly is empathy, respect, and compassion? What are key indicator lights to be aware of when any of them are lacking or off-kilter? We also discuss Dr. John Gottman’s research on “The Four Horsemen” in relationships.

Brain Science Brain Science #5

Managing our mental health

Mireille and Adam discuss key aspects of mental health and what it looks like to manage our own mental well-being. What are the key ingredients to managing it? How do our relationships and boundaries impact it? Are sleep, food, and activity really that important? We talk through these questions and more to better understand mental health and the ways in which we contribute to our well being.

Brain Science Brain Science #3

Humans and habits

Mireille and Adam explore the habit loop, the role of environment as a cue, behavior change, the role of dopamine, willpower as a finite resource, and the impact of social influences on habits.

As with any change, we need to collect data. Instead of trying to change a habit right away, treat yourself like a scientist in a data gathering stage and experiment with different rewards to better understand your habit loops. Making and breaking a habit is different for everyone.

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