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We can hear and process information while we're asleep - sometimes we even incorporate what we hear into our dreams. Ken Paller, professor of psychology at Northwestern and a "lucid dream" researcher, is taking that one step further, working on ways to influence our dreams by communicating with sleeping test subjects. Enter the fascinating world of manipulated dream states, in which a researcher may be able to influence what you dream about.
The Brink of Death

The Brink of Death


Near-death experiences may seem like the stuff of supermarket tabloids, but there are real patterns to what people report after coming close to departing this life.   Dr. Bruce Greyson has been studying near-death experiences for decades and has stories to tell about out-of-body phenomena, that light at the end of the tunnel, and a near-universal finding of new meaning in life after coming close to death. Plus... a glimpse of what happens to your brain after death. 
Whispers & Tingles

Whispers & Tingles


ASMR, or the autonomous sensory meridian response, is a state of deep calm accompanied by a sense of “brain tingles.” Not everyone experiences it, but if you do, you know what triggers it: a whisper or other soft sounds, a gentle touch or movement, even watching a Bob Ross video. Physiologist Craig Richard explains the science behind ASMR, and why in some people induces a deeply relaxing response that can resolve insomnia, relaxation, and stress. Plus: Who are the top “artists” of ASMR?
Whether you're a believer or not, God is taking up space in your head — the prefrontal cortex, to be exact. Jordan Grafman, PhD, of Northwestern University has been studying where religious belief systems are stored in the brain and how they overlap with moral, political, and social systems. This fascinating episode explores near-death experiences, how brain injury can influence belief, and how religion has been used to enforce cultural and social rules. Plus — the disappearing boundary between religion and politics in America.   To read the transcript: For more information about Dr. Grafman:
It's effective against depression, can help you stop smoking, even ease end-of-life distress. It's non-addictive, naturally occurring, and has been used for thousands of years -- but you can't have it. It's psilocybin, the compound that creates the "magic" in dozens of species of mushrooms. Johns Hopkins researcher Albert Garcia-Romeu, Ph.D. knows just how magical it is. He's conducting research on psilocybin's therapeutic value for everything from persistent Lyme disease to a range of mental health conditions. Find out what this psychedelic drug can do, and why it got such a bad reputation. Plus... revisiting Timothy Leary's rise and fall as he turned on, tuned out, and dropped out.   
We all know exercising is good for us – it reduces anxiety and inflammation, boosts the immune system, and may even ward off dementia, all while it helps keep us fit. But our brains don’t want us to do it! Meet Dr. Jennifer Heisz, a neuroscientist who learned how overcome the brain's resistance and used exercise to conquer depression - and complete a triathlon! Plus… why those who fear exercise the most have the most to gain from it.   
Brain science is everywhere, even in the stories we tell. Hear from neuroscientists and storytelling experts Paula Croxson and Uri Hasson about how the brain processes stories, how a listener's mind resonates with the storyteller's, and why some stories have the power to transport you to a different place. Plus... If facts can't change someone's mind, can stories?
Dr. Tony Nader, an academic, author, and the leader of the Transcendental Meditation movement, knows how you can find inner peace. TM is like a deep dive to the stillness at the bottom of the ocean, leaving the turbulent waves far above. Learn how the body and mind are inextricably bound, and how meditation can improve mental and physical health. Plus… what the Beatles taught us about meditation. 
Cultivating Confidence

Cultivating Confidence


Where in the brain is that little something that makes top performers feel so confident in their ability? Can that confidence be developed in someone who is naturally more timid? Dr. Nate Zinsser, director of West Point’s Performance Psychology Program and author of The Confident Mind, explains how a sense of mastery develops, and why butterflies in your stomach are a signal from the brain when you're about to do something great. Plus... why Ted Lasso wants us all to be a little more like goldfish.  
Our Emotional Memory

Our Emotional Memory


Where were you on 9/11, and why do you remember it so clearly? Dr. Elizabeth Phelps, a Harvard neuroscience professor who studies the effect of trauma on memory, explains how highly emotional events get stored in our brains. Find out why we are so confident that these "flashbulb memories" are completely accurate, even though the evidence suggests otherwise. Plus... the "Michael Moore effect" that can influence what we think we remember.
The 9 Triggers of Rage

The 9 Triggers of Rage


The human brain is designed to "snap" under threat, but 100,000 years of evolution did not prepare us for the world we live in today. R. Douglas Fields, PhD, describes how the brain's rage circuitry is activated -- whether that's a car that cuts you off on the highway or a pickpocket who steals your wallet. The primal rage response also explains a lot about the January 6 mob mentality, the unruly airline passenger who strikes a flight attendant, or a terrorist attack. Learn the 9 triggers that are programmed to make you snap (and how to identify the "misfires") 
Awestruck! (Part 2)

Awestruck! (Part 2)


The human brain resists uncertainty — whether it's an approaching tiger or a global pandemic, we've evolved to move from fear and chaos to order and resolution. Dr. Beau Lotto, founder of the Lab of Misfits, explains why the brain takes small steps instead of large leaps, and why we need to teach kids to think more like scientists. Plus... why we react to a pandemic by hoarding toilet paper
Awestruck !  (Part 1)

Awestruck ! (Part 1)


What is awe? It's not wonder, or surprise, or pleasure — it's a state of mind that Dr. Beau Lotto calls "finding the impossible in the common." Dr. Lotto is a neuroscientist who specializes in perception; he once actually measured awe in the brains of people watching Cirque du Soleil. Learn where awe originates, why it evolved, and even how military leaders might weaponize it. Plus... why Dr. Lotto says babies are born "useless"
After witnessing a childhood friend suffer from a severe eating disorder, Lauren Breithaupt dedicated her career to exploring the causes of anorexia, bulimia, and related syndromes. Now a PhD in psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Breithaupt explains that eating disorders - once thought to be a plague of teenage girls – can affect men and women of all ages and share a genetic link with other psychiatric disorders. Plus… how dinnertime conversations help your child’s brain develop. Seeking Help? - National Eating Disorders Asso. National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders
A Jolt of Happiness

A Jolt of Happiness


Is it possible to relieve depression or PTSD using electricity? Kelly Bijanki, PhD, runs a lab at Baylor College of Medicine, where her team is using deep brain stimulation to induce happiness in patients who need it the most. Her fascinating work shows that “emotional” issues are as biologically based as “neurological” ones, and that depression can be treated with the same techniques used for epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease. Plus… the evolution of the smile.    
Daniel Levitin says we can all age successfully if we take our choices more seriously now. The neuroscientist and author reveals the keys to reaching our senior years in the best possible shape, explains what happens to dopamine levels when we stop trying new things, and tells us the three things older adults are better at than younger ones. Plus... what primatologist Jane Goodall told him about the key to healthier aging. 
Synesthesia is the mysterious mingling of the senses that creates the experience of "seeing" sounds or "hearing" colors. Neurologist Richard E. Cytowic, MD, has spent his career exploring this remarkable phenomenon and has a fascinating insight into how these sensations are formed in the brain — and how we might use it to reunite our fractured society. Plus... meet the man whose extreme form of synesthesia mingled all five of his senses! More information on and 
Your Brain On Trial

Your Brain On Trial


Would a better understanding of the brain lead to better outcomes in court? Professor Francis X. Shen, neuroscientist and lawyer, has devoted his career to “neural law” – leveraging neuroscience to reduce injustice. Using what we know about addiction science, adolescent brain development, and traumatic injury could lead to better interventions to reduce recidivism and raise the bar on justice. Plus… why eyewitness memory is so very, very unreliable.
Making Sense of Music

Making Sense of Music


Sound may be the least understood of the five senses, with music the most mysterious of all. Neuroscientist Nina Kraus of Northwestern University takes us on a tour of how the brain processes music, and explains the lifelong benefits of music education. Find out how music can help offset the effects of poverty, and how concussion distorts the perception of music in the brain. Plus… Why you really should make your child take piano lessons! Dr. Kraus' Lab -  Dr. Kraus' new book - Of Sound Mind -
Worried about dementia, depression, or the zombie apocalypse? Greg Gage, PhD, has a solution for all of these – teach more kids about neuroscience, stat. His company, Backyard Brains, makes do-it-yourself brain kits that wow students with robo-roaches, nerve takeovers, and the sounds of neurons popping. One of these aspiring neuroscientists just may save us from brain disorders (or zombies) some day. Plus… listen in as Gage demonstrates how to take over an unsuspecting audience member’s arm.  
Comments (2)


The antidepressants mentioned in this podcast do not help all people who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. I am not depressed or I wasn't when I sought help in the 70s as I still do so in my 60s! A lifetime of horrifying panick attacks and I wake daily with anxiety of every level and no longer have a Dr. to turn to. There was a time when my specialists could prescribe the correct medications at my needed level to live a full and productive life. No longer, because of others abusing the system from every level, I am now disabled. My husband is compassion fatigued and needs to break away. Permanently, life is way too short at our age. He deserves to be happy. Where do I fit? I cannot 𝙎𝙏𝙊𝙋 it. I have fought so hard for my life over my lifetime. Always with a Drs. care AND that was a fight in itself until I almost died! Many specialists, still to this day, I live in fear added to high anxiety and get panic attacks at embarrassing times so I just do not go out. MY Anxiety-Wired? Learned? Both? The answer for ME now I understand it has definitely worsened no matter what the answer to that question is.

Aug 12th
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