Friday, December 31, 2021

Why People Whistle or Sing


Do people only whistle or sing when they are happy?

Some people never whistle or sing—happy, sad, scared, or mad. Studies about whistling—and there are not many—found that more men than women whistle. Music Scholars refer to whistling as ‘momentary musical performing’, which also includes drumming a beat on the desk, humming while doing some tasks, and singing in the shower—which incidentally has been found to have a calming and refreshing effect on the brain, soothing the nerves and elevating the spirit. The choice of tune appears to reflect the whistler’s mood or is chosen to alter or enhance their mood. Some humans tend to whistle to break up the silence, the humdrum, the normal and boring, or to entertain themselves. Others whistle while they work. The 1937 animated Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, suggested 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  slaves again. Bottom line? People whistle or sing for many different reasons, each likely as unique as each person’s brain.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Performing Music

I enjoyed your answer for what happens in the brain when you listen to music. What happens in the brain when you perform music?

Oh my! Performing music engages almost all areas of the brain at onceespecially portions that decode visual, auditory, and motor activity. Brain scans have shown that performing music actively lights up almost the entire brain. Think of it like a party is going on inside the brain complete with exploding fireworks. Music may be the only known medium that at once activates, stimulates, and engages the entire brain. If you are interested in this genre, you may enjoy the book that Michael R. Hudson and I recently co-authored: Music on the Brain.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Listening to Music

What happens in the brain when you listen to music?

 When you are listening to music, the short answer is A WHOLE LOT HAPPENS! While ears are designed to transmit sound waves, you hear with your brain as it decodes and interprets what the sound waves mean. Multiple areas of your brain are engaged and activated at the same time. Here are six things that happen in the brain when you listen to music:

      a) Levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine—the feel better chemical—rise.

      b) Levels of the stress hormone cortisol fall—reducing chronic stress.

c)         c) Endorphins that help you feel better also help you cope with pain are released

 d)   Neuropeptides can improve your mood as you listen to upbeat music.

 e)    Listening to sad or melancholy music can help you get in touch with your emotions and help you heal.

 f)     When you listen to live music, the bonding chemical, oxytocin is released that helps people learn to trust one another.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Hurt vs Pain

Does the brain know the difference between hurt and pain?

If we define hurt as a social-emotional injury and pain as a physical injury, then my brain’s opinion is that the brain may know the difference—since it does not process physical and social-emotional injuries identically. There is some differentiation in the brain between where pain versus hurt is decoded. However, brain imaging studies have shown that there is also some overlap between the two regions. Metaphorically, think of this as mashed potatoes versus baked potatoes. The brain knows there is a difference in appearance and somewhat in taste, yet ultimately still identifies them both as potatoes. Bottom line: social hurt and physical pain both create discomfort. Make no mistake, a broken heart may hurt as much as a broken bone

Monday, December 27, 2021

Happily Retired, 2

Happily Retired, Part 2 (Author Unknown)

9. I took a job in a Shoe Factory. I tried hard, but it was never a good fit.

10. I worked for a while as a professional fisherman, until I discovered I couldn't live on my net income.

11. Managed to get work at a Pool Maintenance Company, but the job was just too draining.

12. Then I took a position Workout Center, but they said I wasn't fit for the job.

13. After many years of trying to find steady work, I finally got a job as a Historian - until I realized there was no future in it.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

December Poem 2021

It’s the 25th and here in my house,

Lives gratitude—no fire to dowse.

There might be a mouse that’s creeping around,

But way down the hill where the grasses abound.

 My stocking still hangs from the mantle, I see—

Now that lights are back on—and happy is me!

Cuz now I can bake and cook up a storm,

Sharing with others to keep hearts warm.

 Delightful odors stir the air,

Suggesting we’ll like this holiday fare.

Symphony music streams out from my phone,

No scratchy sounds—there’s no gramophone.

Nostalgia is good but inventions update,

I've got the mem’ries and a new template.

The sun’s shining through a light misting of rain,

With temperatures now that are quite humane.

I deliberately add to my memory’s store,

Of joy and hugs and laughter galore.

Give thanks for your blessings—you do have some,

They are harbingers of what yet can come.

Think positive thoughts and hopeful be,

or a better world that your eye can see.

Take care of yourself, a favored guest

On planet earth—so be your best.

 Wherever you are and whatever you do,

I send good wishes from me to you.

They come from my heart and each brain cell,

Please have a meaningful, happy Noel.

Friday, December 24, 2021

It is Finally Here

 Take a deep breath. For some, it is holidays horribilis as they rush around trying to “do everything” their brain (or the brains of others think must be done.”. Whatever is done is done. Find something about which to smile, give thanks, and chuckle. I like oxymorons. For some, holiday cheer or holiday relaxation is an oxymoron. Tomorrow is another day. I shall take time to reflect on seasonal music, good friends, happy remembrances, my blessings, thankfulness--and some oxymorons.

  • Silent Sound
  • static flow
  • steel wool
  • student teacher
  • sweet sorrow
  • terribly good
  • theoretical experience
  • transparent night
  • true fiction
  • unbiased opinion
  • unconscious awareness
  • upward fall
  • wise fool
  • working vacation

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Brain and "Brain"

Why do brains “brain?” 

That was a clever question. You used the word “brain” as both a noun and as verb. If you had asked HOW brains brain, I would have said that the brain has not seen fit to release those HOW SECRETS—yet. WHY do brains brain? That reminds me of a Kevin Hart commercial where he checks his mailbox, opens a letter, and then starts shouting the news to all his neighbors. One of them responds rather mildly, “I’m right here. Why are you shouting?” Kevin SHOUTS back, “’Cuz that’s what I do!” Brains brain, ‘cuz that’s what
they do. They were designed to brain. The brain creates the mind, apparently rather early in gestation. As it grows and matures, the mind can now impact and direct the brain that created it. Go figure. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Forgotten Information

Where does the information go that we “forget?”

 If your brain believes the information is important—based on its tracking of your history, it likely will move it into long-term memory. The rest is purged, out in the electronic universe perhaps. Consolidation—a label for the brain moving information into long term memory, occurs during sleep. If sleep is cut short, some of what you might prefer to have retained is lost. Information loaded from Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs involving mental, physical, emotional, or sexual trauma—especially if it occurred prior to the easy use of language—may be buried so deeply in the brain’s subconscious, it may be recalled only as pictures, sensations, or feelings. Some memories may be buried so deeply they may be recalled only with the help of a skilled therapist—if at all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


We take in so much information, why do we forget it?

 Current estimates are that the brain takes in about 11 million bits of sensory data per second and can decode about 10,000 bits per second. The conscious thought portion of the brain can decode only about 50 bits of information per second. The brain seems programmed to forget irrelevant details and focus on what it thinks will help you make good decisions in the real world. The brain appears to have unlimited capacity for concepts and ideas, but limited long-term memory banks for rote memorization. Some suggest that it is better to memorize WHERE to get needed information than to try to rote-memorize all the information. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Dream Triggers

Does every brain dream and what triggers a dream?

Studies suggest that the brain generally dreams although many people do not recall their dreams. Some studies suggest that you have 20 seconds when you firsts recall a dream to say or do something to fix it in conscious memory, otherwise the brain may never give it back to you again. In terms of what triggers the brain to dream, there are so many theories. Here are just five possible triggers:

Watching scary movies

·                   Eating a heavy meal late in the evening

·                  Worry, anxiety, and depressive disorders

·                  Ingesting substances linked with hallucinations

·                 Asking your brain to help you solve a problem

Friday, December 17, 2021

Brain & Déjà vu

What happens when you have a Déjà vu?

 As you probably already know, Déjà vu is a French term meaning “already seen.” A label for that uncanny sensation that you’ve already experienced something, even when you can’t recall having done so. Estimates are that 60-80 percent of the population may experience this phenomenon. It is common in young adults. No one single cause has been identified. It can occur in conjunction with a brief electrical brain malfunction, similar to what happens during a temporal lobe seizure. General consensus is that it relates to memory in some way. You might have experienced a similar event before and just can’t remember it. Or according to Epigenetics, since you may have cellular memory from the past three or four generations of biological ancestors, one of them might have experienced a similar event that leads you to feel like it happened to you.

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Thursday, December 16, 2021

Brain & Rejection


How does rejection affect the brain? How can you overcome the feelings of being rejected?

 Rejection is a type of social-emotional hurt—a loss of something you wanted or thought you wanted. Sadness is the emotion that helps you recover from a loss. To change the way you feel, you must change the way you think, because feelings always follow thoughts. According to research from Case Western Reserve University, exposure to rejection led participants to have an immediate drop of 30 percent in cognition or mental reasoning and a 25 percent drop in IQ—which can make it difficult to process the experience in a rational and timely manner. Fortunately, as you recover from the hurt, the drop in cognition and IQ can reverse. A few sessions with a good counselor often can assist with recovery from rejection. I think of it like this: some people will always reject you; some will accept you some of the time, but all will never accept you all the time—and really, you don’t accept all people all the time. Here is my brain’s opinion: it is most important to first accept yourself. Think of anything beyond that as a bonus.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Brain & Alcohol

Does Alcohol have a long-term effect on the brain?

The short answer is “it can.”  Alcohol reaches your brain within 5 minutes of taking a first drink and within 10 minutes already is interfering with neuron pathways that the brain uses to communicate information. This can impair judgment, which could lead to spontaneous unwise decisions that you could be paying for—for the rest of our life. 30 deaths a day occur just from vehicle crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers. Alcohol is a toxin to the brain, which releases dopamine, the feel better chemical, to compensate, but the relaxed, confident feeling dopamine provides does not last long. By 20 minutes into drinking, the liver begins to metabolize alcohol at the rate of 1 ounce per hour. When you take in alcohol faster than the body can dispose of it, you become intoxicated: in California that is a Blood Alcohol Level of 0.08 percent. The third-leading preventable cause of death in the US, 261 individuals die each day from alcohol-related causes including alcohol-related dementias and cancers.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Brain Thoughts & Emotions

How is it that everyone has different thoughts? And what causes strong thoughts and emotions?

Let me begin with the first question. The answer is fairly straight forward. Everyone has different thoughts because every brain on Planet Earth is different. Even the brains of identical twins do not think identical thoughts. Studies suggest that as you get older, your brain becomes even more different. 2nd question: What causes strong thoughts and emotions? As far as we know, the strength of your thoughts and emotions depends on your response or reaction to them. In other words, at some level, you decide how much energy you want to put into them. 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Sleep & Sports

Meeta Singh, MD, a board-certified physician and psychiatrist concentrated in the applied science of sleep, has worked with the Nationals since 1917 to improve their sleep routines. Together they have focused on creating more effective sleep schedules. Also, they have been rethinking travel arrangements to prioritize a good night’s sleep. She wrote, “It’s not just baseball players who recognize that sleep is key to achieving peak performance. Representing a wide variety of sports, athletes such as Usain Bolt, Maria Sharapova, Michael Phelps, Steph Curry and Lindsey Vonn . . . have opened up about their sleep habits.” So, yes. Sufficient amounts of quality sleep are being linked with athletic success.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Sleep & Athletic Performance


What’s this about sleep being linked with success in athletics? I’ve read that sleep is independently linked with longevity, but athletic endeavors? 

Bottom line: sufficient sleep for brain is way more important than many would believe. And, yes, studies are beginning to link adequate amounts of sleep with how successful an individual is athletically. Short sleep duration of less than seven hours per night is associated with a greater likelihood of developing obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, frequent mental distress, reduced athletic performance, and even a shortened life. There are some interesting pieces to this puzzle. For example, athletic performance appears to be best in the evening when one’s core body temperature is highest. On the other hand, training exercises done late at night interferes with the brain’s circadian rhythm. This can make it more difficult to fall asleep and, depending on when you get up in the morning, can actually result in insufficient sleep.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Sleepwalking, 9

I learned a lot about sleepwalking from your recent blogs. My mother says I outgrew sleepwalking—which I did for about 5 years during early childhood. What does that mean?

Sometimes sleepwalking in childhood does not continue into adulthood. The reason for this is unclear. Perhaps the child perceived some stressor that resolved. Studies have  revealed that all of the sleepwalkers in an evaluation of one family had a specific genetic code that the non-sleepwalkers did not possess. Those individuals with the specific genetic code had a 50 percent chance of passing it on to the next generation. The mutated gene appears to be located in chromosome 20 but further studies are needed to identify the exact location of the gene in chromosome 20. The studies also noted that individuals who were sleepwalkers in childhood did not always continue as adult sleepwalkers—that is, they outgrew sleepwalking just as you did. Studies continue as some believe this means several other genes may be involved beyond the one mutant gene located in chromosome 20. All interesting . . . 

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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Sleepwalking, 8

Sleepwalking research by Dr. Dauvilliers and associates also reported that:

      - 22.8 percent of sleepwalkers studied presented with nightly episodes

      - 43.5 percent presented with weekly episodes.

      - 58 percent had a positive history of violent sleep related behaviors

      - 17 percent with violent sleep-related behaviors had experienced at least one episode involving injuries to the sleepwalker or to the bed partner that required medical care.

The injuries that were reported related to sleep walking included, bruises, nose bleeds, and fractures (one participant had sustained multiple fractures and serious head trauma after jumping out of a third-floor window.” According to the lead researcher, “Sleepwalking is an underdiagnosed condition that may be clearly associated with daytime consequences and mood disturbances leading to a major impact on quality of life … The burden of sleepwalking in adults needs to be highlighted and emphasized.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Sleepwalking, 7

Sleepwalking does tend to run in families. In addition, some individuals seem to be more susceptible than others although contributing factors for this have not specifically been identified. A study published in the British Journal of Psychology concluded that a first-degree relative of a sleepwalker is ten times more likely to sleepwalk than the rest of the population. A study published in the journal Neurology concluded that twins are more likely to sleepwalk than non-twin siblings. Back to the original question, healthcare professionals advocate that adults who sleepwalk need to be evaluated by health care professionals competent in the field, especially since additional information is being identified related to this potentially serious that may induce violent behaviors and affect health-related quality of life.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Sleepwalking, 6

Results of the adult sleepwalking study led by Yves Dauvilliers, MD, found that sleepwalking involves complex behaviors that occur during arousals from non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During an episode of sleepwalking the brain is partially awake, resulting in complex behaviors, and partially in NREM sleep with no conscious awareness of actions. Researchers also reported that 58% of the 140 adult sleepwalkers studied displayed violent behavior during their sleep with 31% of violent incidents being towards themselves and 46% toward their partner sleeping next to them. They found that individuals who began sleepwalking at a young age showed a higher frequency of violent behaviors during the sleepwalking that caused injuries and. Sleep terrors also accompanied sleepwalking. 

Friday, December 3, 2021

Sleepwalking, 5

Sleepwalking is a common parasomnia affecting up to four percent of adults. It involves complex behaviors that occur during arousals from non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During an episode of sleepwalking the brain is partially awake, resulting in complex behaviors, and partially in NREM sleep with no conscious awareness of actions. The reported largest prospective cohort study on adult sleepwalkers seen in a clinic, the results of which appeared in the journal SLEEP, involved a case-control study of 100 adult patients in whom primary sleepwalking was diagnosed from June 2007 to January 2011. Exclusion criteria included a positive clinical history of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), a similar parasomnia that involves violent dream-related behaviors emerging during REM sleep. The age of the sleepwalkers ranged from 18 to 58 years with a median age of 30. Results reported a higher frequency of daytime sleepiness, fatigue, insomnia, depressive and anxiety , and altered quality of life in patients with sleepwalking compared to the control group

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Sleepwalking, 4

When compared with a control group of non-sleepwalkers, symptoms for sleepwalkers may include:

      A higher frequency of daytime sleepiness

     Generalized fatigue,


     Symptoms of anxiety and depression

     Lowered quality of life.

     Placing themselves in harm’s way

     Acting out dangerous behaviors

 Yves Dauvilliers, MD, professor of physiology and neurology and director of the sleep lab at Gui-de-Chauliac Hospital in Montpellier, France, has pointed out that “What would usually be considered a benign condition, adult sleepwalking is a potentially serious condition and the consequences and dangers of sleepwalking episodes should not be ignored.” 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Sleepwalking, 3

Can sleepwalking be hereditary?

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine explored the theory that genetics plays a role in the sleep disorder of “sleepwalking.” To do this, they went on a genome-wide search and studied the DNA of a large family of sleepwalkers. Interestingly, they discovered that there was a DNA difference between sleepwalkers and non-sleepwalkers. They discovered that all of the sleepwalkers in the family studied had a specific genetic code that the non-sleepwalkers did t possess. Those individuals with the specific genetic code had a 50 percent chance of passing it on to the next generation. The mutated gene appears to be located in chromosome 20. Now the task will be to identify the exact location of the mutated gene.

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