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Transcript: Paul Nussbaum on Meditation, Neuropsychology and Thanksgiving

Below you can find the full tran­script of our engag­ing Q&A ses­sion yesterday on holistic brain health with clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Nussbaum, author of Save Your Brain. You can learn more about the full Brain Fit­ness Q&A Series Here.

Per­haps one of the best exchanges was: Read the rest of this entry »

Stress and the Brain: To Fight, Flee or Freeze -That is the Question

(Editor’s note: below you have the final part of the 6-part Stress and the Brain series. If you are joining the series now, you can read the previous parts via the links below.)

Stayin’ Alive

Understanding the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

TO FIGHT, FLEE, OR FREEZE — THAT IS THE QUESTION

With a better understanding of the neurobiology of stress, the LD – ADHD – stress connection becomes clear.  Students with learning disabilities or ADHD, confronted with the stress created by exposure to tasks that are in reality or in their perception too difficult (and thus threatening), exhibit the protective behavior of any organism under extreme stress:  They fight, they flee, or they freeze. When these kids don’t understand why they can’t do what other kids can do (master the stressor), and they can’t see any way to get out of a situation that won’t go away, they begin to shut down. Read the rest of this entry »

The Neurobiology of Stress: The Human Brain Likes to Be in Balance

(Editor’s note: below you have part 5 of the 6-part The Neurobiology of Stress series. If you are joining the series now, you can read the previous part Here.)

Stayin’ Alive

Understanding the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

The Human Brain Likes to Be in Balance

Fortunately, the brain has some built – in safety systems. Too much cortisol in the blood signals the brain and adrenal glands to decrease cortisol production. And under normal conditions, when the stress is overcome or brought under control (by fighting, fleeing, or turning into an immobile statue, or by mastering the threat), the hypothalamus starts sending out the orders to stand down. Stop producing cortisol!  Event over!  Under continuous stress, however, this feedback system breaks down. The hypothalamus keeps reading the stress as a threat, furtively sending messages to the pituitary gland, which screams out to the adrenal glands to keep pumping out cortisol, which at this point begins to be neurotoxic — poison to the brain. Read the rest of this entry »

The Neurobiology of Stress: The Stress Response Explained

(Editor’s note: below you have part 4 of the 6-part The Neurobiology of Stress series. If you are joining the series now, you can read the previous part Here.)

Stayin’  Alive

Understanding the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

THE STRESS RESPONSE EXPLAINED

Stress was put on the map, so to speak, by a Hungarian – born Canadian endocrinologist named Hans Hugo Bruno Selye (ZEL – yeh) in 1950, when he presented his research on rats at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. To explain the impact of stress, Selye proposed something he called the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), which he said had three components. According to Selye, when an organism experiences some novel or threatening stimulus it responds with an alarm reaction. This is followed by what Selye referred to as the recovery or resistance stage, a period of time during which the brain repairs itself and stores the energy it will need to deal with the next stressful event.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Neurobiology of Stress: The Little Brain Down Under

(Editor’s note: below you have part 3 of the 6-part The Neurobiology of Stress series. If you are joining the series now, you can read the previous part Here.)

Stayin’ Alive

Understanding the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

The Little Brain Down Under

The tour continues . . . Sitting under the occipital and temporal lobes of the brain is the cerebellum. It’s about the size of a child’s fist. Because it looks like a separate brainlike structure attached to the underside of the cortex, the cerebellum is sometimes referred to as the “ little brain. ” It’s connected to the brain stem, which in turn connects the brain to the spinal cord. The cerebellum used to be relegated to the very simple role of helping us maintain balance when we walk or run, but modern neuroscience has found that the cerebellum plays a much larger and more important role than that. Read the rest of this entry »

The Neurobiology of Stress: Gray Matters

(Editor’s note:  below you have part 2 of the 6-part The Neurobiology of Stress series. If you are joining the series now, you can read the previous part Here.)

Stayin’ Alive

Understanding the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

Gray Matters

The term gray matter usually evokes an image of the cortex, because that ’ s the part most visible in pictures of the brain.  In fact, gray matter makes up not only the cerebral cortex but also the central portion of the spinal cord and areas called the cerebellar cortex and the hippocampal cortex.  This dense tissue is packed full of neuronal cells, their dendrites (branching, root – like endings), axon terminals (the other end), and those sticky glial cells I mentioned earlier. The cortex is the area of the brain where the actual processing of information takes place.  Because of its relative size and complexity, it ’ s easy to understand why it plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Neurobiology of Stress: the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

 

Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.
— Erma Bombeck

The brain is the control center for all of our thoughts, actions, attitudes, and emotions. It ’ s the pilothouse on the riverboat of our lives. It’s Mission Control for all of our ? ights into space or time. It ’ s the air traf?c controller that helps us navigate and reroute our paths based on incoming and outgoing information and how we’re feeling about it at the time. It’s the John Williams of our personal symphony. It ’ s the Mother Ship to our Star?eet; it’s . . . (Uh, sorry, I got carried away there, but I think you get my point!) Read the rest of this entry »

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