Thursday, September 30, 2021

Other Sensory Systems

How many sensory systems are there? I only know about visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

 I suppose the number of sensory systems partly depends on how you group—or do not group—them. In addition to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (that includes smell, taste, touch, and muscle positions, etc.), here are three other systems:

 Interoception: sensors related to the condition and function of internal organs, the physical or physiological condition of our body. Thirst and hunger are examples, as well as the perception of hot or cold, or of needing to use the toilet.

 Vestibular: sensors related to balance and orientation in space, including the position of our head in relation to gravity. The semicircular canals and the otoliths in portions of the ear assist in these functions. In the recent Olympic games, this was he system that appeared to malfunction when Simone Biles was competing. Gymnasts sometimes describe this as the “twisties,” where a person loses their sense of orientation when in mid-air.

 Proprioception: sensors related to the position, location, orientation, and movement of body muscles and joints. Proprioception combines sensory data from neurons in the inner ear (motion and orientation), stretch receptors in muscles, and joint-supporting ligaments for stance. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Sensory Systems


Many people grew up learning about five senses grouped into three Sensory Systems. Some studies have estimated Sensory Preference in the general population as follows:

 Visual:  what you take in through the sense of sight. Estimated at 60 percent of the general population. Decoding is believed to occur in the occipital lobes or visual cortex.

 Auditory:  what you take in through the sense of sound, the ears being designed to conduct sound waves. Preference is estimated at 20 percent of the general population. Decoding occurs in the temporal lobes or auditory cortex.

 Kinesthetic:  what you take in through the senses of smell, taste, touch, and muscle perception. Preference is estimated at 20 percent of the general population. Smell is decoded in the mammalian brain layer, while the others are decoded in the parietal lobes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Five Senses—Three Systems

Early in life many children learned to identify five of the senses by pointing to eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. Unimpaired humans can use all of those senses, although they may be much more aware of one sense over the others in specific situations. For example:

  • At a symphony, they may be more aware of the auditory sense
  • At a birthday dinner, they may be more aware of smell and taste
  • In an art gallery, they may be more aware of the visual sense

·        At a clothing store they may be more aware of the tactile sense in terms of how clothes feel against their skin. 

W  When learning a sport, they may rely heavily on muscle perception. They may also be more aware of one sensory system over another based on their sensory preference. You are most likely to feel most comfortable, affirmed, understood, nurtured, and even loved when you receive sensory stimuli in your sensory preference. Consequently, you tend to gravitate toward, and feel most comfortable in, environments that acknowledge and reward your sensory preference. The ideal is to know your sensory preference and build sufficient skills in all three systems so you can access any or all by choice, as required by the situation at hand. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Sensory Systems

Several years ago, I heard you give a fascinating presentation on the main sensory systems, and something called ‘preference,’ as I recall. I would sure appreciate a recap!  

Human beings relate with each other, the world, and with nature through the senses. Unimpaired, they can use all sensory systems. Typically, each will have a sensory preference, although a non-preferred system may predominate in specific situations. Sensory preference may be observed from birth or perhaps even before in some (e.g., kinesthetic babies have been seen sucking a thumb or finger in utero). Very young kinesthetic children may be seen touching anything that is soft such as the satin border on a blanket and being especially sensitive to the feel of something against their skin and to odors or flavors. Newborns with a visual tendency, typically look around more than nonvisual non-visual newborns, even in the hospital nursery. Newborns with an auditory tendency may make more sounds and respond more quickly to sounds. Multiple resources related to the senses, sensory processing, and sensory preference, are included on my website under Brain References. A free Sensory Preference Assessment also is available at 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Brains, 2

What brains “do” is at once complex, amazing, and sometimes not well understood. For example, the vehicle metaphor helps me better understand what brain do. Vehicles create traffic. Without vehicles, there would be no vehicle traffic. Traffic now in turn, an impact the vehicles. It can make it more difficult for the vehicles to travel on their preferred course and in a timely manner. Traffic can impede, slow down, or bring vehicles to a complete standstill. The brain creates the mind. It is believed this begins fairly early in the process of gestation. Once the mind is created and begins to mature, it can now impact the brain—the organ that created it. The mind can influence how the brain (and you) thinks, makes decisions, and the behaviors it generates, does. It can impact the brain negatively or positively. Therefore, that will jmpact your life and everything you touch or relate to—negatively or positively. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021


Why do Brains Brain?

This was one of the questions the production team collected for an episode of Brain Secrets: Ask Dr. Taylor. I thought it was clever to use the word brain as both a noun and a verb. If the question had been “How do brains brain,” I would have answered that the brain has not seen fit—as yet—to release all its secrets to researchers. But why? The first thing I thought of was a commercial by Kevin Hart. You may have seen it. He opens his mail and then commences to yell the news to his neighbors. One of them says, "I’m right here. Why are you yelling?” Kevin yells back, “’Cuz that’s what I do!” In answer to your question Why do brains brain?  They brain ‘cuz that’s what brains do. They were designed to brain—to do what brains dohopefully using all their amazing functions. More tomorrow. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

"Better" Your Sleep

How can I “better” my sleep and does it really matter?

 Each brain is believed to need a specific amount of sleep during a 24-hour period—and yes, it can matter enormously. Studies have discovered many tips for how to get a better sleep. Although sleep is independently linked with longevity, in today’s world, many are not excited about following the tips. Here are a few examples (and more are listed on the Sleep Foundation website):

 ·       Have a regular sleep time, starting preferably 1-2 hours before midnight as sleep before midnight has been found to be more restorative

  • ·         Go to bed the same time on weekends as during the week

·       Avoid the use of electronics for 1 hour prior to bedtime unless you are using blue-light protective glasses

·       Avoid exciting movies or video games just before going to bed to reduce brain stimulation and/or the production of adrenalin

·       Sleep in a cool room that is as dark as possible

·       Keep all electronics out of the bedroom unless you are on call

·       Eat dinner (or supper) by five pm if possible, so food is out of your stomach by bedtime.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

"Better" Your Brain

How can a person better their brain?

 Entire books and health programs have been developed in an attempt to answer this very question. In a nutshell: develop and maintain a Longevity Lifestyle. Research has discovered strategies for staying healthier and younger for longer. Fourteen of those strategies are outlined in the Longevity Lifestyle Matter Program available at Taylor’s website (LLM Online). For example:

  • ·       Make water your beverage of choice and stay hydrated. Dehydration is linked with dementia.

·   Give your brain the sleep it needs. Sleep is independently linked with longevity.

·      Get a minimum of 30 minutes of challenging mental exercise every day and read aloud for 10 minutes every day

·    Get regular physical exercise as the brain has no muscles and depends on muscle activity in the body to bring nutrients to the brain and remove toxins and waste

Monday, September 20, 2021

Brains & Towels

When you take a shower and then dry off is the towel clean or dirty? I think it’s dirty. I just had a near ‘knock down and drag out’ argument with a friend of mine.

The answer to some questions is specific to what your brain believes. The purpose of a shower is to remove dirt (defined as some substance that ordinarily does not belong on your skin) along with dead skin cells. If you start with a towel that has already been used, your brain may say the towel is dirty. If you start with an unused towel and it removes dirt and dead skin, your brain may say the towel is dirty. If your brain believes that dead skin is not dirty because it belonged to you—and there was no actual and obvious dirt to remove—it may say the towel is clean. This is a great example of the reason arguing is typically so dysfunctional. There isn’t really any sure-fire way to settle the answer because it involves the belief system in two different brains. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Action - Reaction

I've heard it said that every action has a reaction. I don't understand what that means.

 Every action has a reaction. That means that when you take a drug, any drug, including caffeine, each is designed to produce a reaction. The reaction depends on the specific drug and what it does when it binds to receptor molecules on the surface of the cell and gets inside. Think of the drug as a key and the receptor molecule as a lock. The drug must find a lock that fits its key. Once inside, the drugs usually alter the cell in some way, release a brain chemical that will give you a reaction. Some drugs make you sleepy, some wake you up, some trigger the Brain Reward System to release dopamine to make you feel better. Some can trigger a mental disorder such as a psychotic episode, and some can eventually kill you. Just remember when you make choices, that every action has a reaction. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Caffeine and the Brain


Caffeine blocks the brain’s adenosine processing, which increases the brain’s alertness. People who are very sensitive to caffeine may experience heart palpitations as the caffeine blocks the brain’s adenosine processing which not only increases alertness (interfering with sleep) but impacts heart rhythm regulation, as well. [Note: Caffeine taken after individuals have ingested alcohol does not sober them up or make them fit to drive. It may make them more alert temporarily, but it does not reverse the poor judgment and other effects associated with alcohol.] Much of caffeine found in beverages and chocolate is ingested recreationally—not medically prescribed. The FDA recommends no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day per adult. Caffeine’s half-life is typically 5-6 hours. If you ingest 200 mg of caffeine at 2pm, 100 mg is still in your system at 7-8 pm. Oral contraceptives and pregnancy double its half-life. Caffeine’s half-life is also longer in children than in adults and may be up to 30 hours in a newborn.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Caffeine & the Brain


What does caffeine do to the brain or how does it affect it?

 Hands down, caffeine is said to be the most commonly used drug worldwide. It belongs to a class of drugs known as central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. These drugs are designed to treat fatigue and drowsiness. Caffeine peaks in the blood anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion. Caffeine is able to cross the Blood-Brain Barrier or BBB where it can impact brain functions. Caffeine affects the activity of a naturally occurring and necessary brain substance called adenosine, which is used to transfer energy within the cells by forming molecules like adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Adenosine also functions as a chemical messenger or neurotransmitter adenosine diphosphate (ADP), widening blood vessels, regulating heart rhythm, and promoting drowsiness. A problem often involves what is mixed with caffeine such as large amounts of sugar or artificial sweetenersMore tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Brain Differences

Why are humans the way they are?

I have to take a guess here and imagine you are asking how is it that people think and behave differently. You may as well wonder how it is that cats, dogs, and horses behave slightly differently, too. Every human brain is believed to be slightly different (and I would hazard a guess that this might include other mammals and primates, as well). There are an estimated 7 billion plus human brains on Planet Earth. Each brain is unique, and tends to become even more so with age. No two brains ever think identical thoughts (even the brains of so-called identical twins). Therefore, people are like they are because their brains are like they are—and each one is different. Research suggests comparing your brain to your own unique thumb print—no two identical thumb prints have been identified to date. Consensus is that there has never been a brain exactly like yours on planet earth and it is highly unlikely there will ever be one in the future. How amazing is that? 

Monday, September 13, 2021


Somewhere I read that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cells, but I don’t know what that means. What do they actually do?

Mitochondria provide you with energy, including the energy you needed to ask the question. They are tiny energy factories inside most cells that generate most of the cell's supply of chemical energy that is stored as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The energy produced powers everything you do. In the brain, vast amounts of energy is needed to transmit information across the synapse or the space between neurons, to power functions that allow you to learn, think, feel, remember, and maintain cognition in the aging process. Brain cells utilize three times as much oxygen as body muscle cells and twice the energy of any other type of body cells. The brain grabs 20 percent of all the energy that is generated, even though it accounts for only about 2 percent of the total body weight. Bottom line: Without the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells, you would soon be history. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Whisting, 2

For those who do whistle or hum or sing, the choice of tune appears to reflect the person’s mood, or it is chosen to enhance their mood. Or selected to match their existing mood. Whistling has been found to be something humans tend to do as a way to break up the silence, the humdrum, the normal, the boring, or in self-entertainment. Some people never whistle or sing. Others whistle while they work as in the 1937 animated Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, suggesting that whistling provided a pace for cleaning up the place. In The King and I, whistling a happy tune was a way to cover up being afraid. In Universal Pictures Les Misérables, the Song of Angry Men was about people who will not be slaves again. Bottom line? People whistle or sing for many different reasons, each likely as unique as each person’s brain. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021


I have been told that people only whistle or sing when they are happy. Is that true?

 Music Scholars refer to whistling as ‘momentary musical performing’. Other types of this form include drumming a beat on the desk or other object or even your thigh, humming while doing housework, and singing in the shower—which was found to have a calming and refreshing effect, soothing the nerves and elevating the spirits. Some people never whistle—often because they cannot. I loved to whistle as a girl but after I had my teeth straightened in adulthood, any ability to whistle disappeared. Interestingly, I met someone on one of my speaking tours abroad who said that he could not whistle as a boy, but when he got his teeth straightened, suddenly he could whistle! Go figure. There are not a lot of studies on whistling available. What has been shown is that more men than women whistle. More tomorrow.

Monday, September 6, 2021

EQ & Emotions

Interesting about EQ. I need to look into this. There is a lot of conflict in my life and my home! Is EQ an emotion? How many emotions are there?

Q is not an emotion. It is a set of skills to you help you manage emotions effectively and successfully. I only talk about four core emotions, as studies have observed them on the face of a fetus when uterine scans were performed during pregnancy:  Joy, Anger, Fear, and Sadness. There are hundreds of words for feelings—and, unfortunately, the words emotions and feelings are often used as synonyms, and they are not. They even follow different pathways in the human brain. You’ve probably seen someone throwing things or exhibiting some other undesirable behavior. If another person asks, “Why are you so angry?” the response may be, “I’m NOT angry, just upset, just having a spot of righteous indignation.” Or “Why are you so angry?” with the response, “I’m not angry, just sad.” Male-female responses can be very different. In society it seems that anger is expected if not completely condoned in males, while females are expected to avoid anger, although it is okay for them to be fearful and sad. Mismanaged emotions can get everyone in trouble, male and female. That’s where high levels of EQ skills can be helpful. 

Friday, September 3, 2021

What is EQ?

I need a definition of EQ that I can understand. Can you give it a shot?

Certainly. I am happy to do that. First, IQ describes a potential ability to perform academic learning and endeavors. EQ, on the other hand, describes a set of skills that are designed to help a person, recognize, understand, and utilize emotions appropriately and effectively. Some say IQ is head intelligence and EQ is heart intelligence. The heart, as you may know has 40,000 neurons that communicate regularly with the thinking neurons in the brain. This is how I describe EQ: A set of learned skills that helps a person to control impulses, delay gratification, modulate their moods and emotional responses, maintain a positive and hopeful attitude, and empathize with others. My brain’s opinion is that overall success in life is definitely related to a person’s level of Emotional Intelligence. Success is not one or the other or even one over the other, but consistent interactions between IQ and EQ as the individual deals with life circumstances. Of the two, research is leaning toward EQ being much more important, especially since it is believed high levels of EQ can reduce if not prevent conflict in everyday living. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021


I grew up believing that IQ was most important in terms of a person’s overall success. I recently watched one of your short videos on Emotional Intelligence and it sounds like you don’t believe this. What do you think?

You are correct. I do not think that. During the last century, most people appeared to believe that IQ or intelligence quotient was the single most important contributor to a person’s overall success in life. With additional research, that belief has fallen by the wayside. IQ, while a contributor, likely contributes only 20 percent to overall success in life. Other factors can be involved, of which some may still be waiting to be discovered. One factor that has been identified—which some are calling the most important factor—is Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Some even estimate that EQ accounts for up to 80 percent of a person’s overall success in life. That represents the Success Quotient formula, as well: IQ (20%) plus EQ (80 percent) equals long term overall success in life. More tomorrow. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Brain & Hugs, 3

“But” you may say: “I don’t much like to hug other people!” (Or perhaps there isn’t a person you might like to hug who is readily available.) Hug a pet; hug a body pillow at night (some say that the pressure against your skin (assuming you sleep without being swathed in cloth) gives your brain the sense of a hug. Hug a stuffed animal. Now that studies are showing the benefits of hugging, you have a choice: develop the skills of hugging valued family and friends or of hugging a pet, stuffed animal, or pillow. Remember, Sheldon Cohen PhD studied the impact of ‘hugs’ in helping to protect stressed people from getting sick and found that hugs were responsible for one-third of the protective effect the research revealed. I did not grow up being hugged—in fact, my wonderful little French Grandmother was not a hugger (her “hugs” involved preparing wonderful meals whenever she visited us). Dr. Cohen reportedly said that the apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy. Whatever, in adulthood, I now hug selected individuals—around the world—and have learned to enjoy the reward immensely. I believe it positively contributes to my brain-body health.