Meditation for the curious yet perhaps reluctant or uncertain Marni Amsellem, Ph.D. The latest book on meditation from ABC News Anchor Dan Harris and colleagues, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics is a practical resource for anyone who is even remotely curious about the practice and benefits of meditation. Harris has collaborated with author and meditation expert … Read moreBook review: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, Dan Harris & Joseph Goldstein
Reviewed by Marni Amsellem, Ph.D. A great read for anyone who wants to understand the science behind creativity should check out Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire (2015, Perigee). In addition to delving into what it means to be creative, the book summarizes current … Read moreRecommended reading: Wired to Create
by Marni Amsellem, Ph.D. If you have an appreciation for both the fragility as well as the humanity of the brain, you will want to read Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air. More accurately, if you HAVE a brain (and we all do), you will want to read this book. This book is remarkable for … Read moreRecommended reading: When breath becomes air
Many of us have heard of some form of the 80:20, or Pareto Principal. For example 80% of a country’s wealth lies in 20% of the population; or 80% of a business’ profits are generated by 20% of its customers. In a fascinating paper, published in the December 2016 issue of Nature Human Behavior, our … Read moreThe Pareto Principal and Social Burden
In 2000, a group of researchers from the Finnish National Public Health Institute surveyed a section of the Finnish population, searching for an association between exercise and psychological well-being. Participants answered questions regarding their exercise habits, perceived health, and fitness. In addition, the participants filled out several standardized surveys designed to determine if they suffer from feelings of depression, their … Read moreSurvey results on exercise and psychological well-being
On the one hand, Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories,and How They Inform Your World by Dr. Andrea Bonior is a compilation of useful summaries of thought-provoking ideas and influential thinkers, and on other hand, this book is an easy-to-digest, visually appealing, and witty resource that has carved out its own little place on my bookshelf. This just-published book highlights the most significant … Read moreBook Review: Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World
These days, there is much talk of resilience. This is not surprising, as there are ample stressors in our daily lives and in our world, and some people seem to fare better in the face of stressors than others. But what is it that makes some people more resilient than others in the face of … Read moreAre some of us wired to be more resilient?
Ask meditation devotees and they will tell you with conviction that their meditative practice brings about positive change within them. There is a lot of research that supports these experiences; whether it be a more positive mood after meditating, a more relaxed or focused cognitive state, or increased connection with others, the practice would not have … Read moreThings we can do to help our brains help us feel good: Meditation
It is hard not to observe that the concept of “mindfulness” is currently very popular. According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary, mindfulness is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” The term is often used in reference to relaxation, meditation, everyday behaviors, … Read moreMore big evidence that mindfulness keeps the doctor away
Everyone seems to be talking about gratitude these days. Many who practice gratitude recognize in themselves that identifying and expressing gratitude makes them feel good. There is also a growing body of research (recently even fMRI studies) which supports what people recognize in themselves; that acknowledging feelings of gratitude can have many benefits for health … Read moreGratitude on the brain
This post is a summary of a Brain Science podcast in which host Ginger Campbell, MD, interviewed psychiatrist John Ratey about the effects of exercise on the brain. Essentially, Dr. Rater argued that exercise promotes changes in chemistry in your brain which he further describes in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain: The Revolutionary New Science … Read moreExercise on the Brain
As we at The Avielle Foundation began our work, we soon recognized the benefit of having a resource for linking up to and summarizing relevant neuroscience research underlying the work that we do. This is how the “Check This Out!” spotlight on research and learning library has come to be. Our goal is to make science accessible to anyone who would … Read moreOther neuroscience blogs you should check out!
In this interview, psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, spoke with NPR Radio about compassion and why compassion is often absent in human behavior. After defining and describing current scientific thinking about compassion, he summarized current thought on compassion based on social neuroscience. Social neuroscience, he explained, is a subfield of brain science that looks at … Read moreWe are wired for compassion; how can we be MORE compassionate?
Daniel Reisel has spent a lot of time studying psychopaths (specifically murderers) in order to determine what neurological changes allow them to act without feeling or concern. Research indicates that psychopaths have a deficit in the amygdala, a brain region responsible for empathy. As a result, they lack the ability to feel for others. In … Read moreThe neuroscience of restorative justice
In this TED talk, Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of Emotional Intelligence, discusses our natural propensity for compassion. He explains how we have “mirror neurons” which automatically allow us to feel “with” someone and make compassionate choices. However, in order to do this successfully, it is imperative that we are able to focus less on … Read moreWhy aren’t we more compassionate?
The Resilience Portfolio Model examines the protective factors and processes that promote resilience in children and adults who have been exposed to violence. There is a large body of research revealing common themes that have allowed people to maintain or regain healthy brain functioning following exposure to violence. Scientists have classified these factors into assets, … Read moreThe Resilience Portfolio Model
Many people who practice meditation strongly stand behind their practice, noting the many benefits that they notice within themselves from meditating. What happens inside of the brain when a person meditates? Neuroscientists in many labs have sought to better understand this by conducting brain imaging studies, one of which we feature in a related blog post. … Read moreMeditation’s benefits for your brain
We wanted to highlight several videos in which the applications of neuroscience to education are presented in a clear, user-friendly way, both by Lori Desautels. The webinar focuses on trauma-informed education. She specifically describes the role of trauma in childhood and adolescence in our brain and how it impedes our ability to function, neurobiologically. She explains how when a child is … Read moreNeuroscience informing educational approaches in school
Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore highlights the period of life when the brain is rapidly developing and quite malleable, known as adolescence, in this TED Talk. She describes her research in which she uses neuroimaging to compare the adolescent’s prefrontal cortex and limbic system to that of adults, noting that there are many ways in which … Read moreThe neuroscience of the adolescent brain
This review compiles recent studies, offering several explanations for abusive violence. The authors investigated the patterns of neuropsychological deficits in men who committed violent acts against women. They identified several potential causes for neuropsychological impairments, such as alcohol abuse or traumatic brain injury. That said, it is often difficult to determine which parts of the … Read moreNeuropsychology of Violence
On this page, we post links to scientific papers that describe research that may be of interest to those who want to understand more of the science behind what we do. We do realize that posting these papers may create a bit of anxiety when it comes to understanding what the papers are actually saying. … Read moreHow to read scientific papers
Watch Olga Klimecki’s presentation on the Neuroscience Of Empathy and Compassion at the 2012 Empathy and Compassion in Society conference to learn about the effects of empathy and compassion training. Her primary point, demonstrating the plasticity of the brain, is essentially that we can train ourselves to react a certain way. Our emotional reactions (and underlying … Read moreEmpathy and compassion training changes both behavior and brain
Dr. Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk about the effects of stress on your mind and body represents a powerful perspective change on how we think about stress. Rather than trying to eliminate stress from your life (which is not doable), her goal as a health psychologist is to get people to get “better” at stress. That … Read moreKelly McGonigal TED Talk- How to make stress your friend
Carol Dweck is a revolutionary researcher interested in motivation and how we can foster success. In this talk, she discusses how changing your mindset can enable success. According to Dr. Dweck, two primary mindsets operate when starting a challenge. Someone with a fixed mindset has been taught that intelligence is concrete, while someone with a growth … Read moreCarol Dweck TED talk: The power of believing that you can improve
In this TED talk,Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, reflects on how significant strides in brain health can be made. Though we have had significant progress over the last few decades in our knowledge and treatment of heart disease, AIDS, leukemia, and stroke, we have made little progress in effectively treating “mental … Read moreThomas Insel TED talk: Toward a new understanding of mental illness
In this compelling TED talk, pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris demonstrates how a single exposure that, in high doses, affects brain development, the immune system, hormonal systems, and even gene expression. In high doses, it can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer, as well as a 20-year decrease in life expectancy. What … Read moreNadine Burke Harris TED talk: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime
This week, members of the TAF team went to see the Disney Pixar movie Inside Out. Everyone loved the movie and agreed with the film’s lessons about social and emotional learning. The movie tells the story of a girl named Riley, who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, along with the personified emotions in her … Read moreThe Avielle Foundation’s viewing of ‘Inside Out’
Empathy and compassion are similar, of course, but not the same. Empathy is “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes,” such as feeling pain or sadness in response to someone else’s suffering. Compassion, however, is translating this experience of another person’s suffering into action in order to improve their situation, to alleviate their suffering. This study demonstrated the difference … Read morecompassion and empathy in the brain: not the same (research study)
In Dr. Gary Slutkin’s TED talk, he proposes that we treat violence the same way we treat any other contagious disease. Dr. Slutkin founded Cure Violence in 2000, following a decade of overseas work as an epidemiologist whose goal was to reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, and AIDS. Hoping to avoid … Read moreGary Slutkin TED talk: Let’s treat violence like a contagious disease