Dr. Irena O’Brien, Author at The Neuroscience School

All Posts by Dr. Irena O’Brien

Low Affect (Feeling Down) May Have a Physical Cause

Depressed, feeling down

​If you’re a coach, you probably don’t ask your clients about diet, exercise, or sleep habits. But low affect, or feeling down, can have a physical cause. That’s because the purpose of the brain is not to make us happy, or make rational decisions, but to ensure that we grow, survive and reproduce. This is why we need to look at the brain and body as a whole. And the brain works to keep your mind-body system in balance, so you can grow, survive, and reproduce.

Continue reading

The Amygdala Hijack Doesn’t Exist! – Part 2

Amygdala Hijack

In Part 1, we looked at how the old triune brain theory of emotion and the universality of emotions are not supported by science. Rather emotions are constructed on the spot using concepts that we acquired from our parents and the culture we were brought up in. This means that emotions are individually and culturally specific and vary widely from culture to culture.

​In Part 2, we look at how the brain constructs emotions and what the new Theory of Constructed Emotion has to say about stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.

Continue reading

Insight: Creative Problem Solving

Insight: Creative Problem Solving

​In the business world, there is more and more pressure for creative problem solving for developing new products, streamlining delivery systems, optimizing managerial structure, and dealing with personnel and clients. Constant innovation is the game. But what do we do when we’re faced with a problem ​that we don’t know how to solve? In fact, what we know may actually get in the way of a new solution: Our brain’s electrical activity may inhibit other circuits, and other ideas. We tend to think of creativity in terms of art and music. We recognize that artists and musicians are creative people, but what about the rest of us? Does that mean we’re not at all creative or that creativity is not useful in our lives?

Continue reading

Not Getting Enough Sleep? You’re Paying a Higher Price than You Think

You pay a big price for not getting enough sleep

​Not getting enough sleep has become an epidemic, with many of us sleeping significantly less than the 7h - 9h recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Unfortunately, in our western society, sleep is often treated as a commodity that can be traded for other activities. Chronic short sleep ​is linked to lower productivity and higher mortality risk. The Rand Corporation ​estimates the economic costs of sleep deprivation to be up to 3% of GDP. And studies suggest that chronic short sleepers do not require less sleep than other adults; rather, these individuals gradually accrue sleep debt over time.

Continue reading

How Neuroscience Can Make You a Better Coach

Neuroscience for coaches

​Coaches are change agents. As a coach, some of the ways you support clients in creating lasting change is by helping them build mindfulness, self-awareness, self-motivation, resilience, optimism, and self-efficacy.

​Key Takeaway

​A knowledge of brain science can help coaches understand their clients’ experiences and behaviour more accurately. It can provide coaches with additional, brain friendly tools and strategies to help their clients effect change. And knowledge of neuroscience can give coaches confidence that their theories and practices are valid.

Continue reading

More on Self-Actualization as Biologically Driven

More on Self-Actualization

In a previous post, I summarized a study by Douglas Kenrick, from the University of Arizona, and colleagues that looked at self-actualization as a biological drive.

It’s been about 80 years since Maslow introduced his hierarchy of needs and it is still influential today. However, science has evolved since Maslow’s time, particularly in the newer fields of evolutionary biology and positive psychology. In 2010, Douglas Kenrick from the University of Arizona and his colleagues published a seminal paper revisiting Maslow’s hierarchy of human motives in light of newer scientific advances.

Continue reading

Why Self-Actualization May Be Biologically Determined

Self-Actualization is Biologically Determined

According to Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, self-actualization - realizing one's full and unique potential - is the pinnacle of human motives. The traditional view of self-actualization is that it's above the lower biological and social needs. But if self-actualizing is a universal drive, the researchers wanted to know whether it promotes biological fitness (also called Darwinian fitness, and refers to the ability to pass on one's genes to future generations) and/or social motivations.

Continue reading

If Elephants Have Bigger Brains, Why Are They Not Smarter than Us?

Elephant brains are larger than human brains but contain fewer neurons in the cerebral cortex

This is what Brazilian neuroscientist, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, aimed to find out. The African elephant brain is three times larger than ours, but did it have more neurons? Over a period of six months, she and her students sliced an elephant brain by hand, separated out the different brain structures, and processed them into 5 gram pieces. The pieces of brain were stained and the neurons counted by hand.

Continue reading
Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software