Monthly Archives: February 2015

A Disclaimer to Protect Your Brain Health

Danger Stay on Trail

By: Tina Davidson

Disclaimer: I am not a neuroscientist or a doctor, so I suggest you consult one in regards to your brain’s health.

Basically, I’m a research enthusiast with a passion for brain health. I dream and pray for the day that there is a cure for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s (AD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s (PD) (just to name a few). If you’ve been following my blog, then you already know this about me. I rarely suggest my readers consult a doctor because I assume they already do this. Today I thought I’d give my new readers a reminder.  You can find more about me here.

Who Doesn’t Love Free Stuff?

My blog is a free one hosted by WordPress. Since its free, ads may show up on my blog (not my doing). I don’t support any product or company that WordPress may allow advertised here. I do not receive any compensation by mentioning products in my posts that I use or like (I love PYREX!).  I don’t pay health gurus/entrepreneurs to help me subsidize my income with blog posts/ads. I like to mention my favorite professionals just to share what is going on in their fields of expertise (clearly, everything my mom blogs about is worth mentioning here!).

I can’t guarantee the accuracy of what others report.  As you know, it can be dangerous to pick the link that shows up as #1 on a google search and run with the advice.

Danger Sign

Danger: Were you deceived by this picture? I did some editing to make it look like there was water by adding a reflection.

For the Love of the Brain

The goal of this blog is to inform and, hopefully, sometimes entertain. My brain needs a creative outlet and its nice to have an audience (thanks for stopping by!). Your brain health is way too important to ignore and I hope in some small way to contribute to your overall well-being by the information I provide here.

Some people might be more prone to listen me since I’m not a doctor– perhaps modern medicine has left them feeling disgruntled and uncured? (My grandfather was an amazing doctor who knew how to listen to his patients and get to the root of the problem.  Sometimes I wish I had followed in his footsteps and pursued a medical degree).

Who has all the Answers? Scientists Vs. Playwrights

If you’d like to voice your opinion about the faults in today’s medical system there are some good discussions going on over at Chris Kresser’s website regarding: Why Are Scientists and the Public So Often At Odds?  Scientists don’t have all the answers for a person’s health nor do I, but at least people are researching and sharing what works.

Does writing about science make you an expert on the topic? It caught my attention that Tom Stoppard has a new play out, The Hard Problem, being performed in London.  (In high school, I enjoyed playing the part of Felicity Cunningham in Stoppard’s play, The Real Inspector Hound, in a student directed performance. My favorite line to perform: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, Simon!”)  I haven’t seen Stoppard’s most recent show at the National Theatre but I’ve read a couple of different reviews about it. I’m always intrigued when theatre embarks to bring neuroscience into the spotlight. The write-up on the National Theatre’s website states:

Is the day coming when the computer and the fMRI scanner will answer all the questions psychology can ask?

Meanwhile Hilary needs a miracle, and she is prepared to pray for one.

I can’t go into detail about the play because I haven’t seen it. From what I can surmise from the reviews, it seems like the character, Hilary, is a scientist who likes to bring up questions of morality and God. The play appears to be a smorgasbord of food for thought. (Would love to go to London and see it!)

Perhaps after many years of witnessing the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease on a loved one, you can relate to Stoppard’s character, Hilary, who needs a miracle (I don’t think the miracle Hilary expected was in regards to this disease though).

Miracles and Your Brain

I believe there are still miracles happening.  Recently, a teenager made headlines after he had been dead for 45 minutes (he didn’t stay dead!).  He fell through the ice at Lake Ste Louise in Missouri. The rescuers spent 15 minutes looking for him in the frigid water.  Then once they found him he received 27 minutes of CPR. Finally, his mom was brought into the room and she prayed out loud– her son, John, had a pulse within a few minutes. He’s left many baffled in regards to his speedy recovery. I’ve also had relatives/friends recover from strokes/traumatic brain injuries when improvement was deemed slim to impossible (and many people were praying for them).

Do you believe in miracles? Please share your stories.

Disclaimer: While I love to offer advice, I’m not an expert in miracles or brain health– just a blogger voicing her opinion and praying for cures. I will continue to remain optimistic.

Optimism: Focus on what can be done, rather than what can’t; entertain a hopeful view of the future; emphasize any positive aspects of a stressful event–for example, view a setback as a learning experience; encourage, rather than discourage, yourself when you are faced with a stressor.

Source Citation   (MLA 7th Edition)

“Building resilience helps you handle stress: calling on qualities such as optimism, flexibility and humor can help you improve your ability to deal with challenges.” Mind, Mood & Memory 3.10 (2007): 3. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

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Snakes on My brain

Snakes copy

By: Tina Davidson

Say hello to my friend the ball python.  I met him at the reptile show at the Winter Bird Festival in Morro Bay, CA, last month.

Now you may be thinking, “Did she just write reptile show at the bird festival?”

You betcha.

Morro Bay is a bird sanctuary, a place that takes birding seriously, so it never makes much sense that every year reptiles are given a little spotlight during the Winter Bird Festival.  Don’t they know these slithery showmen, if given the opportunity, would consume the honoree’s and their offspring?

Surprisingly, if my group of friends and I hadn’t gotten in line early enough we would have missed out on the free tickets to the reptile show– only 2 sessions were offered with 25 participants allowed in at a time to pet and handle the snakes, bearded dragons, and blue-tongued skink.

bearded dragon blue tongued skink cuddly tiny snake

During my first year in attendance at the show (two years ago), I hid behind my camera– using it as an excuse that you can’t take pictures and hold snakes at the same time, but in fact I was really creeped out.

That memorable year I witnessed a snake pooping on an unsuspecting girl. This scene cured me from ever allowing my children to keep snakes as pets. That and the fact that snakes live a long time convinces me to say no. I don’t envision my future as an empty nester with only my children’s snakes to keep me company by the fire.

The girl I mentioned earlier, who endured the snake poop, was a champion and handled it better than I ever would have– had it been me, much more screaming and mayhem would have occurred! If a snake were expelling its waste on me, my first instinct (two years ago) would have been to launch that sucker.

This instinct, of wanting to fling a defecating snake, might once have been attributed to the “reptilian” brain.  Paul MacLean developed a theory in the 1960s that the brain had three levels and the reptilian part was the bottom most basic level in regards to survival and instinct.  MacLean’s triune brain theory has been replaced but you may still hear mention of the “reptilian” brain.

We now know much more about reptiles and turns out they are pretty smart (lizards can actually use their snout as tools according to one study). In fact, when scientists, Manuel Leal and Brian Powell at Duke University of North Carolina performed an experiment to test the wits between tits, a commonly studied bird, and Anolis Evermanni, aka anole lizards, their results suggested these lizards were just as smart as the birds.  So, I guess that makes reptiles an admirable addition to any bird festival.  What’s your take?

The Snake-away and Your Brain

This was my second year attending the show, but my first year to touch anything,  So, what changed? Why did I chill with the ball python for longer than just a photo opp?  I had reframed my attitude. I do not have herpetophobi, an extreme fear of reptiles, which would have been much harder to overcome.

What helped me the most was to have the proper behavior modeled. I had witnessed my friend, Janie, bravely handling creature after creature and nothing happened to her. We were warned this year that the snakes had breakfast before the show but I didn’t want to let that crap (literally) stop me– distorted fear was holding me back from embracing a tame snake.

Encountering a rattlesnake by surprise in the wild is a real threat to my survival… not a sweet pet ball python.

What distorted fears are preventing you from moving forward to try something new and enjoy life?

Would you be more likely to attend a bird festival or a reptile show? Perhaps you are dealing with orniphobia, or fear of birds, and not reptiles?

Orniphobia is one of the most debilitating phobias as birds are nearly impossible to avoid, says Lizzie Carver, who runs the bird phobia programme at Birdworld, Surrey. Employing a neurolinguistic process known as the “rewind technique”, Carver tries to re-establish a traumatic moment or episode in her client’s minds and then explore it in a safe space.

We all have things we need to overcome in life and s0me are more debilitating than others. It is never too late to change your brain thanks to neuroplasticity (nerd alert– neuroplasticity is one of my favorite words!)  Whether you apply the myelination technique I mentioned in my last post, or a nuerolinguistic process like the rewind technique mentioned above, there is help and support out there. I hope you find an option that works for you.

Did you know this Snake/Bird Fact?

King snakes are considered kings because they eat other snakes just like king cobras eat other cobras.

Check out a picture of a Cooper’s hawk— a bird who eats other birds. Sadly, it seems that there are cannibals in every bunch.

Special thanks to Dennis Sheridan and the Morro Bay Natural History Museum for allowing us to hang out with all the creepers and crawlers.

Source Citation  & Interesting Reads

“Cold-blooded cunning; Animal behaviour (I).” The Economist 16 July 2011: 83(US). General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 28 Jan. 2015.
“Do something: Tackle your fear: Three therapists who specialise in animal phobias.” Guardian [London, England] 11 Oct. 2014: 6. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.
Getting Rid of Distorted Fears, Part 1: Why Kids Have Distorted Fears
Why we Fear Snakes

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