Brain and Behavior Articles

Movie Music and Theory of Mind

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Flickr Creative Commons / anyjazz65Movie music can have a huge impact on our perception of a film. Ever since the days of “silent” movies, filmmakers have recognized that music enhances the movie-going experience.

The earliest movies were shown in halls with live accompanists playing pianos and organs. Some films were even accompanied with full live orchestras. Why would movie companies go to such expense, if not to make viewers enjoy the film more?

Helping Children Avoid Depression

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Helping Children Avoid DepressionToday’s children are at a higher risk for depression than any previous generation. Almost one in 10 children will experience a major depressive episode by the time they are 14 years old, and almost one in five will experience a major depressive episode before graduating from high school. The good news is, there is apparently something that parents and educators can do to decrease the likelihood that children will succumb to this statistic.

Know What Makes You Happy? 3 Tips to Help You Achieve It!

Monday, September 15th, 2014

finding-happiness-cartwheel

You already know what to do to increase your happiness. Now get unstuck and do it!

You know a zillion things you could do to feel better, to increase your happiness and to get more of what you want, and yet you don’t do them.

You want to lose weight but you don’t change what you’re eating. You want to be creative, but you zombie out in front of a computer screen instead. You want a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with your partner, but you avoid talking about what you’re feeling.

How to Love Yourself

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

How to Love YourselfI have a confession to make. I have a reminder on my phone that goes off every morning at 8 o’clock that says simply, “You’re awesome.” This might sound dumb but you’d be surprised how often I forget that fact.

This is just one tool in my arsenal of tricks that I use to combat the depression and paranoia that come with a mental illness.

I’ve been in some pretty dark places and I’ve thought many times about putting an end to things when I’m having a hard time, but then, every day at 8 a.m. my phone vibrates and I’m reminded that I’m awesome.

Low Serotonin Levels Don’t Cause Depression

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Low Serotonin Levels Don't Cause DepressionOne of the leading myths that unfortunately still circulates about clinical depression is that it’s caused by low serotonin levels in the brain (or a “biochemical imbalance”). This is a myth because countless scientific studies have specifically examined this theory and have come back universally rejecting it.

So let’s put it to rest once and for all — low levels of serotonin in the brain don’t cause depression.

Let’s find out why.

How Music Heightens Our Experiences

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

How Music Heightens Our ExperiencesThere’s a whimsical, charming scene in Begin Again, starring Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine, that showcases two of the characters strolling through the streets of New York City, bonding through music. The gold and silver lights of Times Square shimmer in the dark, and earbuds are plugged in as they absorb favorite songs and guilty pleasures off their playlists.

These snapshots were not only a beautiful love letter and ode to the city, but they paid homage to the power of music as well. Music was a vibrant color to a blank canvas; music lit up the night and made it sparkle; music smacked them awake.

Music has the capacity to heighten our daily experiences — to alter our emotional states, to enhance, transcend and inspire the present moment.

It’s the Little Things That Lead to Happiness

Friday, September 5th, 2014

let it go butterfly freeWhat’s the best part of your day?

For me, it’s waking up early and having coffee on my porch as I watch the sun rise. There’s just something calming about this little morning ritual. I never miss it, it’s truly one of the highlights of my day.

Of course there are other things that can brighten your mood during the course of your day that you might not think so much about.

The Psychology of Personal Space: Seat Reclining

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

The Psychology of Personal Space: Seat Reclining

Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard more and more accounts of airline flights being diverted because of an argument over reclining seats. Reclining seats are obviously not the problem — they’ve been available on most airlines’ flights for the past five decades.

The problem is that as airlines seek to eek out every dollar of profit from your pocket, many have decided to reduce the space between seats, making your personal space up to an inch smaller than it was just a year or two ago. The person in front of you trying to recline their seat isn’t to blame — the airline you’ve chosen to purchase a ticket from is.

But all of this really a battle over personal space. And no battle may be more emotionally involving than this one.

We All Need to Take it Easy Sometimes

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Flickr Creative Commons / Vinoth ChandarThis past few weeks has been pretty chaotic for me.

Money has been an issue, I moved to a new city, my nephew was born, I got a new writing job, I had my 29th birthday, I had to housesit for a while and on top of everything else I’ve been working myself into a tizzy over a potential relationship which may or may not work out.

All said and done, I came to the realization last night that yes, I had done it, I had overwhelmed myself wholly and completely.

How the Brain Creates a Dependence On Opioids

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

How The Brain Creates A Dependence On OpioidsOpioids have been around for a very long time, and are used as painkillers to help patients cope with pain post-surgery. They have both helped and harmed people, alleviating chronic pain for people who have undergone invasive surgeries, but also being the source of dangerous addictions for those who have developed dependencies on the painkillers.

Derived from the poppy plant, it’s known for being able to induce sleep. And the use of opioids for medical reasons is widespread, which has contributed to the growth of opioid related addictions. The reason lies in the powerful effect opioids have on the brain.

How to Be Diligent in Your Recovery

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

3 Ways to Develop A Spiritual PracticeRecovery is a long process. It takes time and it takes patience to achieve a relative balance and to find a measure of health after you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness.

When I was diagnosed eight years ago with schizophrenia I was so riddled by delusions and paranoia that I could hardly step foot outside. I was constantly worried that people were thinking things about me, talking behind my back and conspiring against me. In the thick of it, it was me against this horrible evil world, and to say it broke me would be an understatement.

Letting Go of Imagined Symbolism in Psychosis

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Letting Go of Imagined Symbolism in PsychosisIn the midst of a psychotic episode, whether the result of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, one of the main motivating factors in our jilted decisions is the imagined symbolism in meaningless circumstances or objects.

I can remember when I was out on the streets of New York and Boston, deep in the midst of a major psychotic episode. I was convinced I had a mission to bring peace to the world, and though I was destitute, I wandered around following signs and colors and motions of passersby convinced there was some deeper symbolism or meaning in these insignificant things.

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