Do you know how media, politicians, economics, and marketing control our brains?

Wire My Brain is a scientific forum for empowering an intellectual and behavioral revolution

  • Wire My Brain is about taking back our brains and applying the radical, new science of brain (neuro) plasticity and epigenetics, to take charge of life and our civilization
  • Wire My Brain is about providing paradigm-changing brain information to achieve personal success in business, finance, education, government, and civil society that works for the benefit of all
  • Wire My Brain is about becoming more highly effective by understanding the workings of the brains of others in order to collaboratively solve complex issues and secure a sustainable future

Whenever we act against our own best interests and hear ourselves wondering, “WhyBrain out of order did I do that?” we were likely feeling the dumbing-down effects of dopamine overload. In the heat of highly-charged moments, blood and oxygen are selectively diverted away from the thinking Human Brain and directed to the instinctive Animal Brain. In one-tenth of a second, anger, frustration, fear – or any strong emotion – can pump out enough dopamine to block the Human Brain’s capacity to intervene with rational thinking. We literally cannot think straight. According to UCLA neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman, it is like temporarily losing 10 to 15 IQ points!

When this neurochemical, made right between our ears, spikes in highly aggressive or violent moments, in a junior college shooting in Oregon, or in an ISIS raid in Syria, communications between the impulsive emotional Animal (mammalian) Brain and the intelligent, modern Human Brain (or prefrontal cortex) are blocked. Humans are left with little more than unstable, primitive, Animal Brain instincts, and raw emotion.
Rational, Human Brain thinking and problem solving are impossible. In a severe dopamine stupor, as in violent crimes or combat, any ability to analyze big-picture outcomes, manage behavior, or feel empathy for others, is lost. In worst case scenarios, awful things happen; like mass murders.
The real challenge is that dopamine, meant to keep us alert and alive, has an addictive effect, similar to amphetamines and cocaine. So, as with any highly addictive substance, progressively more violence is needed in order to avoid boredom, depression and physical discomfort.
I grew up is the Northwest where guns, used by so many for hunting and recreational purposes, blended into the woodwork. No one talked about guns. It was rare to see one. And, as in much of the rest of the U.S., no one worried for a moment about being gunned down by one.

What changed? In 1967 Bonnie and Clyde died slow-motion, bullet-riddled, body-jerking deaths in a film scene that shocked viewers. Today, Stephen Prince, Professor of Communication Studies at Virginia Tech, says when he shows the classic to his current film-studies classes, students laugh.
Creators of film and video games are continuously upping the graphic violence and glorious gore. When the protagonist is disrespected, disenfranchised, or just mad as hell, the solution is to come out with gigantic guns blazing, blasting anyone in their way. Violence is made attractive. In film, and especially in video gaming, blowing the enemy or offender away is the ultimate expression of dominance by the most powerful character or virtual combatant. It’s what winners do.

An 81 billion dollar video gaming industry, supported by millions of player-addicts, has little motivation to assume any culpability for the relationship between violent entertainment, the deaths of random students, movie goers, and shoppers, or even the spirit of meanness that appears to be expanding and growingly tolerated. Both producers and players will persist with the argument that of the billions of hours spend virtually shooting and killing, only a tiny percentage of gamers will ever act out the violence to which they dedicated so much time practicing.

Metal detectors at school, airports and offices, and the rising number of public massacres, are the unfortunate evidence that arbitrary violence, not previously a feature of life for the majority of Americans, has become the new “normal”. And, there’s no contesting that whatever we practice, will be integrated into our thinking and behavior to some extent; flagrantly as killers, or more subtly as desensitized by-standers.

It’s unimaginable that gaming, film and cable television interests who market to fear or violence-junkies, addicted to the dopamine rushes they guarantee, will hold themselves accountable. Constructive change in media creation will occur when parents says “no” to gratuitously violent entertainment at home. It will occur as voters support public officials who pass laws in the best interest of civil society. But ultimately, the direct leverage for change will be in the wisdom of those who turn off violent television programming, won’t pay for tickets to violent films, and refuse to buy violent video games for their children and themselves.


If you’re constantly in the red-zone with stress, here’s what’s likely to be mousehappening!

#1 The first filter in the brain is the thalamus, which makes an instantaneous call on whether something is a possible (imagined or real) threat demanding instinctual action to be orchestrated by the Reptilian and Animal Brain, or intellectual processing in the Human Brain.

#2 If the news is not interpreted as perilous, the thalamus passes on the in-coming information to the Human Brain, which reflects on a variety of options and consequences before selecting a thoughtful response.

#3 If the “Oh no” experience continues, stress hormones bathe every cell of the body in cortisol and then dopamine. It is an alert signal that raises the heart rate and blood pressure, shuts down immune function, reproductive urges, digestion, and intellectual analyses instead of rushing oxygen and glucose to muscles and vital organs.

#4 Any calming effects serotonin could contribute are wiped out and dopamine is on its way through the roof.

#5 Eventually the hypothalamus, flooded with cortisol from the adrenal glands working overtime, is burned out. Our bodies count on the hypothalamus to know when to put a halt to cortisol output, but chronically high concentrations of this hormone damage the hypothalamus, gradually robbing it of the ability to notice when there is too much of it and stop production.

#6 Hypothalamus out of commission? Then, so is short-term memory. The immune system becomes overwhelmed and we are set up for health problems: our chances of catching whatever is going around, a cold, the flu, or a random infection, are very good. Long-term, there are major health issues: diabetes, stroke, coronary disease, cancer, and depression.

Less time on devices, selective use of media, deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, anyone? Other ideas? What works for you?


We love music for much the same reason we can be drawn to sex, drugs, worrying, gambling, video gaming, and fatty, sugary food. All, to differing degrees, cause our brains to release dopamine, a naturally occurring neuroche1476212_640813209290071_1034209997_nmical, capable of addicting us to its pleasures.

Even anticipating the sounds of a composition like Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” or Phish’s “You Enjoy Myself” can get the feel-good chemical flowing. Brain scans showed that the brain pumped out dopamine both during the seconds of anticipation before the song began, as well as during the time when the music was actually played. (Valorie Salimpoor, McGill University in Montreal, Nature Neuroscience)

When things become really interesting is noticing that it’s the dopamine rush, in anticipation of pleasure, that can make it nearly impossible for some of us to pass an ice cream shop without indulging in a scoop – or two, watch an ad on television for pizza without picking up the phone for delivery of a large, extra cheese, spot a 40% off on a price tag without being seriously tempted to buy, or find ourselves in the heat of passion without acting on our drives. Heroin addicts receive an anticipatory surge of dopamine when they see blood enter the needle — before the drug even gets into their veins.

The big ah ha moment, however, is in understanding that the anticipatory rush of dopamine flooding the brain before experiencing the object of pleasure, whether it’s music, food, sex, drugs, gambling, aggression or violence, blocks important pathways to the prefrontal cortex (or Human Brain), where our executive functioning should be making reasoned, ultimately more satisfying choices for better long-term health, financial, relationship, and achievement – related outcomes.

What to do about it? While it takes practice, it’s not complicated. The key is early detection. Otherwise, dopamine hijacks our good judgement, and carries us, like a runaway freight train full-speed ahead, from the delight of anticipation to the fulfillment of a momentary pleasure, blind to possible train wrecks ahead.

At that point, a simple, deliberate intervention, including a pause and a few deep breaths, provides the Human Brain (prefrontal cortex) with the opportunity it needs to make a reasoned analysis of the situation followed by an appropriate decision. Congratulations. You’re back in control!




Got Science StickerPit your knowledge of climate change, energy, and other issues against quotes from industry-funded ”experts,” corporations, and think tanks. Get a free ”Got Science?” sticker!

Source: Got Science? Take the quiz to find out – Union of Concerned Scientists


Flag down, gay flag up

by D.C. McGuire

Given our long track record for conveniently looking the other way and letting sticky issues slide as long as possible, this has been a surprising and hopeful time for many Americans. As humans, our tipping point for new thinking and behavior usually occurs with a kick in the pants in the form of some unbearable stressor or tragedy that makes continued inaction impossible. So what happened this time?

Think back to the decades of data that piled up about the deadly threats of tobacco products, and the dangers of driving without seat belts before we finally took meaningful measures to regulate both threats to our well-being. Millions of lives later we passed laws and have come to share a consensus of thinking and behavior. By now, the majority of us have re-wired out brains so that we unconsciously buckle-up, and universally understand smoking to be a source of compromised health, even early death.

As it turns out, neuroscience has confirmed that all a brain owner brain needs to know in order to make personal and societal improvements, is extremely simple. No degree in neuroscience required. It all comes down to the fact that the thoughts, emotions and behaviors we spend the most time hearing, thinking and acting out, become the basis of our beliefs and world views.

More astounding, is that brain scans show how any experiences repeated often enough literally change the physical structures of our brains, along with the way they work. Recent discoveries in neuroscience explain that we’re not so much about “human nature” as we are a matter of “human habit”. Whatever we think and do repetitively writes the operating instructions for our brains, and lives. Period.

Repetitious reverence expressed by friends and family for the Confederate flag can build brain wiring that transforms a piece of cloth into a sacred symbol. Repetitious, disparaging comments about homosexuals can translate opinions on gay marriage into an unquestionable sin. Both, however, are more a matter of repetitive thinking than a consequence of fact. With enough practice, either brain could be wired differently.

154 years, and most recently, 9 lives, and 5 black churches later, America is re-wiring its “national brain”. The shootings in Charleston became our national trauma, and the tipping point for change. Finally, our old “human habit” is being replaced by a new consensus of thinking and behavior. The new habit? Hopefully, with continued focus and repetition, American’s brains are being permanently re-wiring for more inclusive respect, and empathy.

In a June, 2015 CNN poll, 63% of respondents (including 64% of .Evangelical Millennials) said they believe same-sex couples have a constitutional freedom to marry. David Michener’s appeal heard before the Supreme Court was the tipping point arising out of a long history of emotional and physical persecution for 1.6 million gay Americans. The new habit? Hopefully, for this supermajority, it adds up to brains re-wiring with expanded respect, and empathy for everyone.

Previous mindsets about race and gender discrimination may not disappear quickly or entirely. Still, because science shows us that our beliefs and behaviors evolve from habit, we have the awesome opportunity, responsibility, and power to re-train our brains for a healthier, happier, more secure future. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s just a matter of choice in this moment, and this moment, and this moment, and . . .

What’s next? Neuroscience confirms that we have the mental capacity to handle complicated issues more rapidly and with much less pain than could have ever been imagined in the past. It’s both hopeful and realistic to contemplate how we could head off the inevitable stress and trauma of environmental deterioration, un-managed climate change, dwindling supplies of water, clean air, and natural resources, all exacerbated by a ballooning population, with respectful, empathetic initiatives and policies, if that’s what we choose to do.


Brain Inflammation Affects Thinking and Emotions

June 24, 2015

Scientists have known for a while now that inflammation contributes to conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. But lately they have been turning up evidence that inflammation can affect the brain more directly and acutely, and might underlie a wider range of problems, from impaired cognition during infections to depression and even schizophrenia. Inflammation, […]

Read the full article →


January 10, 2015

Some video game manufacturers are now marketing terrific games that emphasize kindness and compassion instead of violence and aggression. This is an important contribution to the world of gaming software, as our neutral brains can learn either equally well! With a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Games Learning Society Initiative, designed […]

Read the full article →


December 27, 2014

Sadly, for some time, it has been known that children who suffer abuse, neglect, poverty, or trauma often develop depression and other psychiatric illnesses. As adults, that kind of stress often translates into greater incidence of medical illnesses, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. At least in part, this can be explained by the fact […]

Read the full article →


December 27, 2014

          Every day Lumosity provides new brain exercises for its subscribers, urging daily practice. Christmas was different. “Most of the year, we remind you to spend time training your brain. Today, we ask for something different. Put down your phones and computers. Make some new memories. Whether you’re visiting a childhood […]

Read the full article →


December 9, 2014

Scientists are now able to explain how the aging process can be delayed for a several decades, without demanding practices, or costly medical procedures. The process that keeps us at our best is neurogenesis, which is the body’s ability to grow new synapses and neurons (the essential “mechanical” equipment) in our brains. The big bonus? […]

Read the full article →