Tag Archives: Brain Health

Your Brain’s Playlist

By: Tina Davidson


This is me with “Tina” in Germany circa 2000.  Photo Credit: One of my college roommates. 

Music evokes strong emotions and can bring back memories long forgotten.

When I hear the song, “Cotton Eye Joe,” by Rednex, I am transported back to college and I picture myself surrounded by friends dancing under a black light.

I never really thought of my current playlist (Cotton Eye Joe, you didn’t make the cut) as a scientific tool, but now that’s changed.

Read All About It

My mindset has changed thanks to the book, “Your Playlist Can Change Your Life.” It boasts, “10 Proven Ways Your Favorite Music Can Revolutionize Your Health, Memory, Organization, Alertness, and More.”

Now that’s some big claims. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m listening to a lot of music and paying better attention to it.

Parental Advisory:  Stick to the songs that bring back good vibes.

Brain Tunes

Chapter 10, “How to Use Your Brain’s Own Music,” intrigued me the most. Music can be made from your brain’s own waves and added to your playlist.

Bonus Track:  Google “Brain Music Therapy” (BMT) and “Galina Mindlin“– once you’ve discovered BMT, there might be a cure for your insomnia after all.

Pump up the Volume

Here’s a few songs from my Summer Playlist:

I may regret my choices later (but all scientists have a work in progress, right?)

  • “Shake Shake Shake (Shake Your Booty)”- KC & the Sunshine Band

  • “Help”- The Beatles

  • “I Wanna Be a Lifeguard”- Blotto

  • “Last Night a DJ Saved my Life”- Indeep

  • “Obviously 5 Believers”- Old Crow Medicine Show

  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling”- The Piano Guys



Where’s the Show?

There’s nothing quite like hearing your playlist songs performed live. I doubt I’ll hear any of my summer playlist songs at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center any time soon, but looks like the 2017-2018 season is going to be a good one.

Do you have a favorite local performing arts center? Here’s my top picks of the upcoming Cal Poly Arts shows (wish I could afford to attend them all):

  • Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends- Oct 8

  • Steep Canyon Rangers- Jan 21

  • Improvised Shakespeare- March 16

  • Black Violin- Feb 17

  • Itzhak Perlman- Jan 16

  • Michael Feinstein- Jan 26

  • Andrew Bird- Oct 16

  • Koresh Dance Company- April 14

  • Cameron Carpenter- Feb 26

  • Brasil Guitar Duo- Oct 14

I Heard you on the Wireless

Special thanks to Cal Poly DJ, “Jack Funk,” for pouring out the groovy tunes on Wednesday evenings on KCPR (congrats on your graduation). My boys enjoyed listening to your show during our twenty-minute commute to gymnastics.

They’ll never forget that:

“Last night a DJ saved my life with a song.” Lyrics by Indeep


Happy listening! Here’s to a happy and healthy brain.

Please share your summer playlist in the comments.



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Filed under Book Review, Brain Health, Learning, Music, Uncategorized

Coloring Pages and Your Brain


It was over three years ago when I created my first coloring page for my sons using the software, Adobe Illustrator. I stayed up late into the night learning the program and creating things for my children to color–a much needed creative outlet (confession–I worked on the pages more for myself then them).  After I had completed about ten pages, I had GRAND ideas of creating and marketing coloring books in my spare time.

I quickly realized this was not going to work out… unless I wanted to give up all forms of hygiene and many other time consuming necessities for survival. However, I did end up creating a website, with the help of my tech savvy older brother, where all my friends/family can download them for free (this includes you, so enjoy!).

Those were the glory days–where every coloring page I created was new and exciting. The possibilities seemed endless. (Just think about how many pages one could create on birds?)

Lately, I’ve been in a coloring page creative slump and have focused my creative energy on other “artistic” pursuits.

So, when some inspiration came to me to create a page for St. Patrick’s Day based off a green truck that my youngest son had perforated at school, you can imagine my excitement!!

The minute I saw the truck below, I had a silly vision of a leprechaun driving a green truck and spreading cheer with shamrocks instead of exhaust fumes.

When was the last time you were inspired?


Here’s some finished products below colored by my kids. They never cease to inspire me. Gotta love the pink road chosen by my oldest son because he wanted to make the colors more “exciting.” I get it! Think outside the box. 🙂



Can Coloring Help Your Brain?

What benefits does coloring provide? Did you know some people find that coloring books help them take their mind off of chronic pain?

I find it relaxing to create coloring pages and others find it relaxing to color them in. There were millions of copies of coloring books geared towards adults sold last year and it looks like the trend will continue for this year. Why not break out those markers and join the fun!

So, what’s the appeal?

According to Parade Magazine’s article, “50 Shades of Happy–The New Joy of Coloring:”

“It engages both sides of your brain in that it’s both creative and tactical,” says psychologist Alice Domar, Ph.D., executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health in Boston. The creativity comes with envisioning the color selection and how it will play throughout the piece, while the tactical involves applying your decisions to the artist’s design. Both keep your right brain from taking over and wandering where it wants, as it does when you just doodle.

Coloring books are also a good ways for people to enjoy life away from screens and electronic devices. All it takes is a coloring page and some coloring utensils–whether it be crayons, markers, or colored pencils. (Although there are plenty of coloring apps out there… remember there is an actual brain benefit by holding a pencil in your hand verses swiping a finger.)

For many, coloring books may be a good form of art therapy. Recently, it has been thought that the rise in adult coloring books has perhaps contributed to the rise of art therapy’s respect and global recognition.

“…United States is not alone in using art therapy as an effective approach to various physical and mental afflictions, including emotional distress, addiction, social development, anxiety, self-esteem issues, and more.” Art Business News, 2015.

For those with Alzheimer’s, art therapy may help improve cognitive skills. It doesn’t seem like it would hurt to try some form of art therapy out with Alzheimer’s patients?

Even the color you choose can have a calming and healing effect on your body. For example,

“The psychological effects from using the color green are similar to those of the color blue, and are perceived as being soothing:” PRWeb Newswire, 2013.

Why Color Alone?

I hope you’ll find some time to download a coloring page you like and share it with a friend.

Perhaps you can find some inspiration in the book, “Draw Your Big Idea: The Ultimate Creativity Tool for Turning Thoughts into Action and Dreams into Reality” by Heather Willems and Nora Herting. I’m interested in checking it out (the title seemed really good!).

For those on the Central Coast, check out slolibrary.org for more information on the Healing Power of Art for Adults taking place on Friday, March 18, 2016.

Healing Power of Art for Adults
Anne Kellogg will lead a workshop exploring the creative process of art and its use to give voice to your deepest self.  Space is limited.  Pre registration required.  Please call or stop by to sign up.


I feel like you’re never too old to color.

Keep on creating and pursuing your dreams! I hope this post contributed in some way to your brain health and happiness. 🙂


“KindaChic.com’s Tips for Selecting The Right Colors to Use in Every Room of The Home.”PRWeb Newswire 2 July 2013. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.


Parade Magazine. http://parade.com/409702/hdowdle/50-shades-of-happy-the-new-joy-of-coloring/

Gross, Anisse. “Beyond coloring books: gifts & sidelines 2016: coloring books aren’t going away anytime soon, but publishers are already on the hunt for what’s next in gifts.” Publishers Weekly18 Jan. 2016: 24+. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

Fard, Farah Joan. “The expanding reach of art therapy: though it’s a relatively new approach to mental health treatment, art therapy is gaining traction and making a difference in people’s lives.” Art Business News Winter 2015: 34+. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.


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Buck the Trends–Tips for Brain Health in 2016

By: Tina Davidson


Perhaps you’re feeling a little stressed and fed up with your resolutions already?

Here’s some fun ways you can buck conventional trends and enough a happier/healthier brain in the new year. (Disclaimer:  My ideas on brain health and happiness may vary slightly than yours. Although this list may appear to be a five-step program on how to get yourself fired from your day job, I assure you it is not.)

  1. Eat more fat. Your brain needs healthy fat. Add some eggs, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, and nuts to your shopping list. (update: If you are interested in learning more about eating fat, check out The Fat Summit). 
  2. Monkey around. Your brain will enjoy the novelty of swinging on the monkey bars at the park while you strengthen your core muscles. I dare you to take the Monkey Bar challenge.
  3. Ditch your shoes and your daily showers. Despite the fact that many businesses state, “No shoes, No shirt, No service,” there are plenty of places that will always accept you sans footwear. The beach will never turn you away and it is a good place for barefoot beginners. Your brain’s sense of position, aka proprioception, will also get a work out.  Spray on some MotherDirt to take care of any unwanted odors (if only life were that simple, right?).
  4. Take a hike. To get the most health benefits out of your hike, I recommend you find a forest to hike in. According to the Los Angeles Times: “Shinrin-yoku is the name given to the Japanese art of “forest bathing,” contemplative walks through the woods that reconnect the individual with nature and can lead to decreased stress, natural mood elevation and even a stronger immune system.” Read more about forest bathing here.
  5. Leave your cell phone in the car and ignore your emails. Try to spend a day (or more) avoiding EMFs and see how you feel at the end of the day. You may piss a bunch of people off who wanted to get a hold of you, but you may also find that life is less stressful when you’re not “connected” every minute.

Basically, become a kid again in the new year.


Squish your toes in some mud.

Swing across monkey bars at a nearby playground.

Experience the wonder of a National Forest ( 2o16 is the National Park Service‘s 100 year anniversary).

Live on the wild side and even skip showering (children don’t need to be bathed every day–remember there’s a drought in California).

Spend more time moving and less time glued to your smart devices.

Do the things you enjoyed doing as a child.  It’s 2016 and the time is NOW.  According to Katy Bowman’s book, it’s time to “MOVE YOUR DNA!”

pathways w sig

What about you?

What National Park would you visit if you could go to any National Park in California? Take my poll and let me know. 

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The Dark Side of Sugar and Your Brain

sweet side

By: Tina Davidson

Halloween is almost here. For most kids, October 31 means costumes and CANDY!

This year my sons will be dressed as a father and son duo–Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader, and Luke Skywalker. I’m sure they’ll be wielding their lightsabers to commandeer treats while using the Force to try to persuade me to allow them to eat sugar and stay up past their bedtime.

Should I worry too much about them having trouble falling asleep after eating a bag full of candy in the evening? Apparently, a new study has found that sugar may help out with sleep:

Contrary to parental belief, sugar may actually cause drowsiness, not hyperactivity. Key brain cells awash in glucose put mice to sleep, scientists report in the July 8 Journal of Neuroscience. (1)

I’m going to allow my children to eat a reasonable amount of candy (not in excess) since this article just came out and their falling asleep quickly is not 100% guaranteed. The key words of the study are “may actually cause drowsiness” so my kids will have to present me with a few more studies (done on humans) before I change this policy.

And my kids can forget about eating any candy with artificial colors or chemical sweeteners. There are studies that link artificial food dyes to hyperactivity (sometimes sugar is not solely to blame for kid craziness–check out the blog “Die, Food Dye!” for testimonials from parents with dye sensitive kids). So, I plan on letting my kids collect candy, but I’ll swap this candy out later for “mother-approved” candy they can eat (stuff they pick out ahead of time from Trader Joe’s). This tradition seems to make everyone happy.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!  May the Force be with you!

Hanging with Yoda at LEGOLAND for the day. Photo courtesy of Thea Gavin.

Hanging out with Yoda at LEGOLAND.

Further Reading

Do You Let Sugar Master Your Attention Span?

Check out the article, “Energy drinks significantly increase hyperactivity in schoolchildren, study finds” posted on February 9, 2015, at Science Daily:

Middle-school children who consume heavily sweetened energy drinks are 66% more likely to be at risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health has found.

Do or Do not. There is no Try When it Comes to Substituting Real Sugar for NAS

You may want to think twice before you choose a non-caloric artificial sweetener (NAS) and find out how it may affect your intestinal microbiota. Check out the article, “It’s Never Nice to Fool Mother Nature,” posted on Dr. Perlmutter’s blog.

Chris Kresser’s blog also has a post, “The Unbiased Truth About Artificial Sweeteners” from May 30, 2014, that is worth checking out. You can also find a free ebook on sweeteners on his website.

Do you Underestimate the Power of Sugar?

Some people complain of nightmares after eating a lot of sugar and some gain weight after eating a diet high in sugar. There are others who experience no ill effects after consuming lots of sugar. Maybe they just don’t notice any effects because it puts them to sleep? Check out the article, “What Sugar Does to Your Brain” by Dr. Scott Olson.

Scientific studies on the effects of sugar on the brain are sparse at best and most medical professionals and organizations will say that sugar has nothing to do with mood or hyperactivity. If you are surprised by that stance, you are not alone.

“Your powers are weak” when it comes to fending off sugar cravings.

Should You Eat Chocolate Before a Lightsaber Battle or Tense Discussion?

According to the Wall Street Journal article posted on December 3, 2014, “How the Brain Uses Glucose to Fuel Self-Control,” by Robert M. Sapolsky, eating some chocolate to get your glucose levels up before entering into a tense discussion with a spouse may prove beneficial (taking glucose before a lightsaber battle was not mentioned in the article).

Going for the Padame Amidala look this Halloween?

Protect your brain from heavy metals found in some costume makeup and check out the article, “Beware of Halloween Makeup Hazards,” by Devon Kelley posted on October 20, 2015.

Help me Obi-Wan KALE-nobi–eating Fruits and Vegetables is my Only Hope!

I try to limit my consumption of foods with added sugars. I’ll stick to eating foods that are close to their most natural state and resist the power of the Dark Side of sugar this Halloween.

How about you? What’s your stance on sugar and how it affects your brain? Remember to seek your doctor’s advice and do your research when it comes to your health issues and  consuming sugar.

R2 D2

I found the droid, R2 D2, that I was looking for at LEGOLAND.

I'm not sure how many Lego bricks went into making the Death Star replica at LEGOLAND but it was pretty impressive.

I’m not sure how many Lego bricks went into making the Death Star replica at LEGOLAND but it was pretty impressive.


Photo of author, Tina Davidson, with Yoda courtesy of Thea Gavin.

(1)  Sanders, Laura. “Sugar may put you to sleep: glucose triggers nerve cells to spur drowsiness in mice.” Science News 8 Aug. 2015: 15. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.

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Wi-Fi and Your Brain

wi-fi router

By: Tina Davidson

In my previous post, Books and Your Brain Continued… Paper or Plasma, I mentioned an article I found about the Ashland Public School District and how it was the first US Public School District to limit wi-fi radiation exposure to students and staff. The remarkable parent who raised the issue with the school district reached out to me via email after seeing my post. I’ve never had the honor of meeting her, but Cece Doucette, is one of my new heroes. I’ve included the email she sent me below so you don’t miss out on anything she has to share.

Thanks for the mention of wi-fi in schools, Tina. In addition to addressing wi-fi radiation in education, there is a lot parents can do at home. We have run Ethernet cables to our daughters’ laptops and turned off the multiple wi-fi antennas in each device. The cordless home phones are like having your own min-cell tower, they pulse radiation 24/7. We’ve replaced them with corded phones. We use a good toaster oven or cast iron pans to warm foods now instead of the microwave oven. We also unplugged the little router we’d bought, and contacted our internet service provider. They gave me the IP address for my Verizon router, and it’s very easy to go on-line and access the wireless settings to turn off the 2.4GH and 5GHz routers that came with our phone/internet/cable.

I also turned off both wi-fi antennas in my printer.

Hard-wired is the only way to ensure internet access without undue radiation exposure and it’s easy to do. We’ve cut down cell phone use and keep them in airplane mode when not in use so they can’t pulse constant radiation. I bought an Acoustimeter electromagnetic radiation meter to be sure I have eliminated all radiation in our home. I have a grant application in to put two of the Acoustimeters in the Ashland Public Library so all of our residents can measure and remediate the radiation in their homes too. The Friends of the Ashland Library are hosting a film series this fall to help educate the community on wi-fi’s potential harm, see pages 12-13 of our local monthly paper.

The only device we can’t control at home yet is the utility “smart” meter mounted on our house without our permission. The analog meters with the old dials are the safer choice. At least the digital meter we have is far away from our bedrooms–the radiation pulses 24/7 and interferes with sleep and cell repair.

For more information, feel free to peruse my research repository:

Understanding EMFs.

As a closing thought, I just read Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair’s book, “The Big Disconnect” which goes into scientific detail about what’s happening to children in the digital age, by each brain development stage. I highly recommend it to every parent. Children best learn how to be fully functioning people from caring adults who love them and give them their undivided attention. ~Cece Doucette

Thanks, Cece, for sharing the simple steps that people can take to make a difference and limit wi-fi radiation in their homes.

There are two more items that I thought of with wi-fi antennas that readers may also want to turn off: blue-ray players and DSLR cameras (check your user manual if you are unsure if your camera has wi-fi capabilities).

Another benefit of wiring your house instead of going with a wireless internet router, is that wires are better for maximum speed and security.

Need more Information?

Cece has compiled all her research online to share with those interested. Check out the section, Electrohypersensitivity (EHS), and find out how these environmentally induced symptoms manifest neurologically and immunologically in people exposed to electric and magnetic fields.  The good news is that over time these symptoms can disappear when the exposure to EMFs is eliminated.  

A final note from Cece:

Friends of the Ashland Library took an interest in this, and after doing their own due diligence, decided to dedicate their next Documentary Film and Discussion Series to educating the public on this.  See attached flyer.  This is something any community could do, or folks could watch most of the featured videos on-line or through their library networks.


How about you, readers? What other devices with wi-fi antennas have I missed that I need to turn off? I’d love to hear the steps you are taking to limit your wi-fi radiation exposure or how you’ve become an agent of change to help spread the word. Keep up the good work and here’s to a happy and healthy brain!


Email correspondence with Cece Doucette.  October 4, 2015.

Understanding EMFsOnline research repository.

Other Wi-Fi news

Gogo provides inflight wi-fi for more than 70 percent of the nation’s airlines and plans to launch a satellite-based wi-fi system to boost connectivity. Satellite wi-fi works on international flights and over a body of water. (Source: The Tribune, sanluisobispo.com, F4, 10.4.15)


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Books and Your Brain Continued… Paper or Plasma

old book

By: Tina Davidson

Reading and Your Brain

Did you know you can exercise the deep reading part of your brain quite simply? All you have to do is put down your Kindle (after you’re done reading my blog, of course) and spend some time reading a paperback book instead.

I found a great link to an article, based on a radio interview, that discusses our bi-lateral brain and why we shouldn’t only read from screens.

You can read about it here. I found the following quote interesting:

Neuroscience, in fact, has revealed that humans use different parts of the brain when reading from a piece of paper or from a screen. So the more you read on screens, the more your mind shifts towards “non-linear” reading — a practice that involves things like skimming a screen or having your eyes dart around a web page.

What about you? Did your brain just skim the quote I posted? Did you skip reading the full article?

Thanks to @movedtowrite for retweeting the link to this article on Twitter!

Writing and Your Brain

I guess we still need old-fashioned books and the experience of writing with pencil on paper. Here’s a quote from another interesting article that @tara_in_canada tweeted.

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.

The article also mentions the benefits of students taking notes by hand rather than on a laptop.

I think technology has its benefits (I love being able to create graphics on my laptop) but there’s still a lot to figure out when it comes to the effects of technology on the brain.

Wi-Fi and Your Brain

I posted a link previously from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) about Wi-Fi in the schools and how schools should proceed with caution in regards to devices that emit electromagnetic frequencies (stay wired for internet if possible). When I read the recent article: “First US Public School District Limits Wi-Fi Radiation Exposure to Students and Staff,” I found this to be good news.

Ashland, Massachusetts Public Schools have implemented Wi-Fi Device “Best Practices” which include turning the Wi-Fi off when not in use and keeping devices on a table.

Let’s use technology but limit the radiation exposure is basically what the school is implementing and promoting.

Hopefully, schools aren’t trading in all our kids’ textbooks and notebooks for Chromebooks too quickly (Sorry, Google, if you were hoping to take over the school market). Hopefully, we’ll find a happy balance with technology in our homes and schools. One day my children and perhaps grandchildren may write a handwritten note to thank me for keeping them safe.

Join me, @tinabrainblog, on Twitter and let me know what interesting brain facts you’ve stumbled upon lately.



“Your paper brain and your Kindle brain aren’t the same thing.” The Takeaway. September 18, 2014. Editor T.J. Raphael.

“What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades.” http://www.nytimes.com. Maria Konnikova. June 2, 2014.

“First US Public School District Limits Wi-Fi Radiation Exposure to Students and Staff.” SBWire. September 25, 2015.


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Pain, Music, and Your Brain


By: Tina Davidson

I used to brag about how I never got sick and how I hadn’t been on antibiotics for over ten years. I should have known better–as the saying goes, “Pride goeth before the fall” (adapted from Proverbs 16:18).

About four months ago, over the course of a week, I desperately needed antibiotics to combat an infection. I’m not sure how I would have survived without antibiotics because the pain from the infection was so great. The first doctor I saw prescribed Amoxicillin. Unfortunately, this antibiotic couldn’t kick the infection, so four days later the next doctor prescribed the tenacious, Augmentin. This antibiotic combated the bad bacteria no problem and my pain was relieved. (Sadly, Augmentin probably killed off some of my good gut bacteria as well. I recommend the book, “Brain Maker,” by Dr. David Perlmutter on this topic)

My tale of woe began with a sore throat–the kind where I could barely swallow–and it lasted for a week. On the seventh day, with a little help from Vitamin I, aka ibuprofen, I thought I was on the mend. Then things got worse. That evening the pain in my head went from a level 1 (slightly-painful) to a level 10 (Old Faithful was gonna blow!). After a grueling night of no sleep and lots of prayer (2 Corinthians 12:9), I texted a friend in the morning and she urged me to see a doctor and offered to watch my children (I am forever in her debt!).  After my children were safely inside my friend’s house, I drove white-knuckled to the urgent care as the pressure in my head heightened like labor pains. It felt like my ear was trying to give birth to another ear.

Once in the waiting room I tried not to make eye contact with the other sufferers.  I handed the receptionist my insurance card and managed to choke out, “My head really hurts and I can no longer hear out of my left ear.” Despite her sympathy, she couldn’t change the estimated forty-five minute wait time.

I grabbed some tissue and writhed in a corner of the waiting room–doing my best to fill out the new patient form and not scare the other patients with my Gollum-like state. I wanted to pull out my hair and scream, “My precious!” (I recommend you watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy if you haven’t yet). I had lost something precious to me–my health! Luckily, I managed to not totally lose my mind and all my hair.

After what seemed like an eternity of corner writhing, I finally saw a doctor.  He diagnosed me with an upper respiratory infection and an ear infection in my left ear. I left with a prescription for antibiotics (Amoxicillin), some more Kleenex, and still lots of pain. Four days later the pressure in my head was hovering around level 9.5 (Calgon take me away!) and the fluid draining from my left ear had turned red (reminding me of the Nile in Exodus 7:14-25), so I made an appointment to see an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist).

The ENT informed me that my left ear drum had ruptured and prescribed more antibiotics (hence, Augmentin).  She gave me ear drops to combat the infection from the outside and pills to combat it from the inside. I was told it would take 10 to 20 days for all the fluid to drain. A week later I couldn’t hear out of my left ear and continued to experience ringing. It has been over four months and my ear is still not 100% better. I lost weight, sleep, and part of my sanity during this trial but I gained a whole new appreciation for those who are sick and in pain.

Distraction from Pain

When my head pain hovered near the 6-8 level (on my personal pain scale), I tried reading as a distraction. Surprisingly, I found a brain health reference in a book I had least expected it–in a book about Zumba. The book mentioned a study that had used drumming to help Parkinson’s patients (Zumba is type of dance workout that is all about rhythm). Of course, I was immediately intrigued by this rhythm/brain connection. I made a mental note to investigate this idea further–when I was feeling better–so, here’s what I found out.

Music Therapy

I found a 2006 article in the Saturday Evening Post that mentioned the music therapy research of Dr. Ron Tintner, co-director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston. Prior research showed that rhythm makes people move, but he was specifically interested in finding out if certain rhythms helped Parkinson’s patients move better. (Anyone know what the results were after the trials? I can’t find any new publications/articles following up with Dr. Tintner on the matter.)

More recently, the American Physical Theraphy Association released information in 2013 that trials in Canada were using iPods as the next tool to help improve freezing of gait, the inability to continue walking or start walking, in Parkinson’s patients.

The system is called Ambulosono, and it uses an app called Gait Reminder in conjunction with motion sensing technology in an iPod Touch. The iPod is strapped to an arm or leg, and the app controls music, which plays or stops based on the quality and synchronization of the patient’s stride length, arm swing, and other factors. The system was featured in a YouTube video posted by the University of Calgary in May. States News Service
This sounds similar to the device Dr. Tintner was looking for:
“Over the course of a year, we want to determine which acoustic stimuli will help Parkinson’s patients move and function better. Ultimately, the goal would be to create a device, perhaps similar to a personal music device that would be tailored to each Parkinson’s patient’s needs,” he said.

Whether you have Parkinson’s or not, listening to and/or playing music can help contribute to your overall health and well-being. Studies have shown that music can influence babies as well as boomers according to a TEDx talk by Jessica Grahn, a cognitive neuroscientist.

If you are pregnant and are considering special womb headphones for your baby, the kind of headphones that you stick on your belly so your baby can listen to classical music, aka smart music, you should watch Jessica’s TEDx talk.  It is nice to see her debunk some of the hype around such gadgets.

Spoiler alert: Playing classical music to your baby in the womb isn’t going to increase your baby’s brain function. She recommends you save your money and buy some calming mp3s instead.

The most important bit of information that I took away from Jessica’s talk is that music can help reduce pain! I like the sound of that and I’m sure those suffering from pain do as well.

Here’s some other great benefits of listening to music:

  • Aids in stroke rehabilitation
  • Improves endurance and perceived exertion during exercise
  • Helps Parkinson patients with walking (as mentioned previously)
  • Helps dementia patients with memory recall

This list of benefits is sure to grow as scientists continue their research on the effects of music on the brain. I was especially intrigued by the article, “A Brain for Rhythm.”  This article talked about Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart, and Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco.  They are working together to try to crack the “rhythm code” in regards to how it can help with diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

“We’re going after the rhythm code,” Hart says. “If we crack it, we may be able to use that information to diagnose and treat these brain diseases. That’s the big enchilada!”

Hart’s mother has Alzheimer’s so I understand why this research is important to him.  I recommend reading the whole article.  There is fascinating stuff going on in brain research with brain rhythms.

The Big Enchilada of my Health Issues

The following quote sums up my health issues nicely:

The nervous system controls the function and regenerative process of every cell in the body–including the sinus cavity and channels.  If the nervous system is not in a state of coherence, this means energy is not flowing from brain to body and the cells of the sinuses are not regenerating. This may also have an effect on the eustachian tubes, leading to chronic ear infections and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  Its not a drainage problem.  Its a nervous system out of balance. Yonge Finch Health Team

So, maybe I just need to get my nervous system back in balance. Perhaps you do too? I hope to continue to share tips for a healthy brain and continue to apply what I’ve learned to my own life.

You had me at “Neuroscience”

Are you especially drawn to reading an article if it uses the word “neuroscience”? I recommend you check out: “Superfluous Neuroscience Information Makes Explanations of Psychological Phenomena More Appealing.” I read about it on the blog Mindhacks.

Medical Disclaimer: All information on http://www.tinadavidson.wordpress.com is the opinion of the author and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Please contact your physician if you need medical attention and do not delay seeking professional assistance/treatment because of something you have read on this blog. The information posted here is for general knowledge and entertainment.

For more information on music therapy, check out the following resources:

Sources & Resources

FCR – Endonasal Therapy. YoungFinchHealth.com

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). Vestibular.org

Zumba: Ditch the Workout, Join the Party! the Zumba Weight Loss Program [With DVD] Perez, Beto ( Author ) ] { Hardcover } 2009.

Hearing Loss Tied to Brain Shrinkage. Blog.aarp.org

“Parkinson’s Patients Sing in Tune with Creative Arts Therapy.” PR Newswire 14 June 2011. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 9 May 2015.

 “Unique music therapy research is under way at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston.” Saturday Evening Post July-Aug. 2006: 51+. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 9 May 2015.

“IPODS-THE NEXT TOOL IN PARKINSON DISEASE TREATMENT?” States News Service 17 Oct. 2013. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 9 May 2015.

“Music Therapy: One Key for People with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease.” Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Feb. 2001: 3. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 9 May 2015.

A Brain for Rhythm. The-Scientist.com

Freezing of Gait. Encyclopedia of Movement Disorders. Bloem, B.R., Delval, A., Mahabier, S.W., Snijders, A.H.2010, Pages 486–491.

Fernandez-Duque, D., Evans, J., Christian, C., & Hodges, S. (2015). Superfluous Neuroscience Information Makes Explanations of Psychological Phenomena More Appealing Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27 (5), 926-944 DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_00750

Music and the Brain. TEDx talk by Jessica Grahn posted on Inside the Brain

Music, Rhythm, and the Brain. BrainWorldMagazine.com

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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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Musical Instruments and Your Brain

By: Tina Davidson

Do you have a favorite instrument? Did you know playing a musical instrument is like giving your brain a full-body workout?

In a previous post, I mentioned the brain benefits of playing the ocarina. Recently, I found the following video about how playing an instrument benefits your brain, thanks to one of my favorite blogs, Inside the Brain. It is a TedEd Lesson worth sharing. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Who knew you’d get better executive function skills just by busting out some tunes? Enjoy the video and here’s to many happy hours of practicing! Here’s what I’ll be playing.

Lanikai Unkuleles

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The 2014 Central Coast Writers’ Conference and My Brain


By: Tina Davidson

What’s scarier? That the average human attention span is 8 seconds? Or that the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds?

(I want to know what gives goldfish the edge to hang on for that extra second and was it Gill’s good looks or his attention span that got him the part as Bob’s pet goldfish in the movie, “What About Bob?”)

With attention span on the decline due to the distractions caused by shiny electronic gadgets, it is a wonder I sat and listened to a recent FOUR HOUR talk given by Brian Schwartz. Thankfully, there was a break, so I didn’t actually sit the entire four hours and the material was engaging so my brain didn’t feel like exploding. While Brian was talking, I felt like I was back in the good old days– when I attended Cal Poly and took notes with a pen and notebook that couldn’t be powered on or off.

(Brain Tip: Handwriting is actually better for your brain than typing– watch the video linked on the further reading section of my post Can Writing and Success Help Your Brain?).

Schwartz’s presentation, “12 Steps to Becoming an Amazon Bestselling Author,” was one of the several workshops at the 2014 Central Coast Writers’ Conference, which took place at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo on September 19 & 20.

About four years ago, I was pretty excited about self-publishing, so my mom lent me her copy of Dan Poynter’s manual on self-publishing. This topic still interests me so my brain soaked up all the new information that Schwartz presented on the subject. Schwartz is an expert when it comes to publishing and helping authors market their Kindle books.  He’s a great resource and I recommend you listen to one of his talks, sign up for his email tutorials, and purchase his ebook software if you have self-publishing aspirations.

What are you afraid of?

Maybe you’ve always wanted to write something or attend a writers’ conference but fear stopped you from pursuing your dream. It is common to let fear prevent one from taking action. Both Brian Schwartz and the closing speaker, Don Maruska, touched on the issue of fear. Maruska’s presentation really caught my attention because he touched on neuroscience and how we lose our best thinking to fear.

As a Master Certified Coach, Maruska helps people figure out how to get their best brain working for them so they can achieve their goals.

One simple way Maruska helped the conference attendees get their best brains working was to have them perform an exercise meant to start pumping oxygen into their brains.

Something as simple as standing up and touching your right elbow to your left knee and then switching elbows and knees will suffice. This exercise crosses the midline in your brain (meaning you get the right and left side of your brain working) and this helps you to focus better and use your cerebral cortex, thinking brain, instead of your amaygdala, the flight or fight part of your brain. These helpful exercise tips apply to anyone who needs to keep their mind sharp or pay attention longer than a goldfish.

How can you just sit there?

So, perhaps you’ve pushed your writing fears aside but now you have writer’s block. Might I suggest a walk?

Deborah Netburn, journalist for the Los Angeles Times, covered a study that showed how walking, as opposed to sitting, boosts creativity.  She quoted Marily Oppezzo, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University and the lead author of the study:

“Our study shows everybody’s creativity improved when they were walking compared to themselves when they were sitting,” she said. “It’s so cool that you can just go out, take a walk, and make your creativity better.”

So, whether you have writer’s block or need a creative boost, walking can help.

One of the conference attendees asked Anne Perry, author and key-note speaker at the conference, how she dealt with writer’s block.  Apparently, she doesn’t have it because she writes around 42 page outlines for each of her books and recommends this approach to others.

No one asked Anne Perry if she walks regularly. I’m curious.

What inspires you? 

Now that you’ve walked, written your outline, and your muse is talking to you again, perhaps you need a little more inspiration?

Jeannett Hanscome’s class was just the inspiration I needed to get back on track with my writing.

Hanscome, an author, writer, and teacher, encouraged me with her insight on writing to inspire. She co-authored the book, “Running with Roselle,” based on the experiences of a blind man, Michael Hingson, and his guide dog, Roselle, who escaped together from the world trade center on September 11th. The story alone is inspiring and also the fact that Hanscome collaborated with Hingson.  Hanscome by definition is considered legally blind although she wouldn’t agree with that label.

Now what?

I hope you plan to be the hero in your own talent story as Maruska encouraged.

Will I see you at next year’s writing conference in San Luis Obispo?

I’ve already signed up at the early early bird rate. You can find information to sign up here. My brain always loves a bargain and is eager to learn more.

Sources & Writing Resources


Netburn, Deborah. “Researchers concluded cognitive benefits of walking were specific to creative thought.” Los Angeles Times April 26, 2014.

A special thanks to the following 2014 Central Coast Writers’ Conference presenters whose workshops I attended:

Brian Schwartz -12 Steps to Becoming an Amazon Bestselling Author

Jeanette Hanscome – Write to Inspire

Anne Perry – Plotting to Enhance Your Backstory

Mara Purl – World Building for a Series

Greg Pincus –  Don’t Tell- Write a Scene

Don Maruska – Take Charge: Become the Hero of Your Talent Story

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