brain-statsPercentage of Americans Diagnosed with a Dopamine-Related Pathology?

Bi-Polar Disorder ___ .75%, ___1%, ___3%

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ___ .05%,___ 1%,___ 4%

ADHD ___ 4%,___ 6%,___ 10%

Answers: 3%, 1%, 10% (National Institutes of Health)


  • Americans spend 360 BILLION hours on social networks, blogs, online games, e-mail, videos/films, and watching television
  •  8 -18 yr. olds using, computers, cell phones, televisions, and other electronic devices an average of 7 1/2 HOURS daily consuming media
  • Total hours of screen time? 2,785 hours, per year.
  • School aged children average  a total of 1,285 hours per year reading, doing homework and attending school.
(2012 Kaiser Family Foundation)


head-gears-1In conversation raise the subject of screen  (texting, computer gaming, social media, and television) addiction. Discuss damage and solutions.

What do you know that could help many others? My forthcoming book, “The Brain You Need for the Life You Want, Why We’re Addicted to Overeating, Our Devices, & Violent Media – and what to do about it!”, is filled with terrific new info explaining the neuroscience of “why”.

Still, because this is a book for all of us, it would benefit from even more of your ideas and examples. Share what you’ve discovered works to free you up from addictions to things like Oreos, cell phones,or video gaming – or anything else. How are these challenges managed in your family or at work.

For you, what kind of rewards could take their place? Is the promise of better health, greater happiness and well-being enough, or do you need something more or different? Share your suggestions in Comments.

You’ll get credit for your contribution in the book. Then get out your shades. In 2017 you’ll be a star!!!



Pull your own strings:

Know: Dopamine is an extremely powerful force in our bodies and minds, essential for survival, and, one to be managed with the care of a Schedule II drug, described by the US Controlled Substances Act as:
• a drug or other substance with a high potential for abuse, and
• a drug or other substance which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence

Identify: Notice thinking, conversations, foods, activities, and circumstances, especially those that are repetitively causing tension, anxiety, fear and disappointment. Until we recognize dopamine’s dominant role in our lives and deliberately put it to good use, our wellbeing and success are compromised.

Learn to recognize extreme, addictive, counter-productive behavior for what it is: dopamine-driven behavior. Clearly identify the individuals, foods, substances, entertainment, devices, and circumstances that predictably produce rushes of dopamine.

Subdue: Given a moment to pause and a few deep breaths, the body reduces dopamine levels, and defogs the brain by making pathways to the Human Brain available. The higher executive functions (page 22) of the brain, analytical thinking, emotional control, and empathy, for example, get the green light, making us instantly smarter, kinder, and more competent! When you find yourself feeling agitated, take a few deep breaths and pause for a moment. Utilize the increased clarity this provides to take a pass on thinking, conversations, activities, and entertainment that optional stress.

Stimulate:  Activate healthy helpings of dopamine that are naturally released with physical activities, creativity, music, laughter, achievement, discovery, learning, or problem-solving. With repetition, like any other learned skill – walking, driving, or using a computer – the brain rewires itself to be healthier, more productive, and out from under the tyranny of dopamine.



Our brain’s responses are not optional. Anything we notice, including screen entertainment, instantaneously affects our neurochemistry and the wiring of our brain. Violent or positive content, real or virtual, pumps out dopamine and influences brain wiring. Still, the results couldn’t be more different!

The dopamine fix, even from virtual violence, generates stress hormones similar to actual participation in violent circumstances. With enough exposure, repeated media violence wires the brain to be more susceptible to real-life aggression, as it desensitizes the brain to real-life suffering.

Positive media like humor, music, new insights, beautiful images, and views of extraordinary accomplishments supplies us with dopamine, as well. Some of the very best, like the short videos below, deliver dopamine, plus serotonin, and oxytocin, to create humanity’s most intoxicating and satisfying brew; excitement, wellbeing, and belonging, all in one! Repeated exposure to encouraging, inspirational, empathetic entertainment can build brain wiring and maintain the brain “muscles” that reinforce the good health and happiness we need to live the life we want!


In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollen

Food. There’s plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it?

Because in the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion–most of what we’re consuming today is longer the product of nature but of food science. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we see to become. With In Defense of Food, Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.

The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Richard J. Davidson

What is your emotional fingerprint?

Why are some people so quick to recover from setbacks? Why are some so attuned to others that they seem psychic? Why are some people always up and others always down? In his thirty-year quest to answer these questions, pioneering neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson discovered that each of us has an Emotional Style, composed of Resilience, Outlook, Social Intuition, Self-Awareness, Sensitivity to Context, and Attention. Where we fall on these six continuums determines our own “emotional fingerprint.”

Sharing Dr. Davidson’s fascinating case histories and experiments, The Emotional Life of Your Brain offers a new model for treating conditions like autism and depression as it empowers us all to better understand ourselves—and live more meaningful lives.

Change Your Brain Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen

In this completely revised and updated edition of the breakthrough bestseller, you’ll see scientific evidence that your anxiety, depression, anger, obsessiveness, or impulsiveness could be related to how specific structures in your brain work. You’re not stuck with the brain you’re born with. Renowned neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen includes cutting-edge reseach and the latest surprising, effective “brain prescriptions” that can help heal your brain and change your life:
To quell anxiety and panic:
Use simple breathing techniques to immediately calm inner turmoil
To fight depression:
Learn how to kill ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)
To curb anger:
Follow the Amen anti-anger diet and learn the nutrients that calm rage
To conquer impulsiveness and learn to focus:
Develop total focus with the One-Page Miracle
To stop obsessive worrying:
Follow the “get unstuck” writing exercise and learn other problem-solving exercises

The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

An astonishing new science called “neuroplasticity” is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they’ve transformed. From stroke patients learning to speak again to the remarkable case of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, The Brain That Changes Itself will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future by Daniel H. Pink

The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic “right-brain” thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn’t.

Drawing on research from around the world, Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others) outlines the six fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfillment–and reveals how to master them. A Whole New Mindtakes readers to a daring new place, and a provocative and necessary new way of thinking about a future that’s already here.

The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson’s revealing story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens.

What were the talents that allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their visionary ideas into disruptive realities? What led to their creative leaps? Why did some succeed and others fail?

In his masterly saga, Isaacson begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He explores the fascinating personalities that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page.

This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so inventive. It’s also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative.

The Brain: The Story of You by David Eagleman

Locked in the silence and darkness of your skull, your brain fashions the rich narratives of your reality and your identity. Join renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman for a journey into the questions at the mysterious heart of our existence. What is reality? Who are “you”? How do you make decisions? Why does your brain need other people? How is technology poised to change what it means to be human?  In the course of his investigations, Eagleman guides us through the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, facial expressions, genocide, brain surgery, gut feelings, robotics, and the search for immortality.  Strap in for a whistle-stop tour into the inner cosmos. In the infinitely dense tangle of billions of brain cells and their trillions of connections, something emerges that you might not have expected to see in there: you.

This is the story of how your life shapes your brain, and how your brain shapes your life

Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents by Craig A. Anderson 

Violent video games are successfully marketed to and easily obtained by children and adolescents. Even the U.S. government distributes one such game, America’s Army, through both the internet and its recruiting offices. Is there any scientific evidence to support the claims that violent games contribute to aggressive and violent behavior?

As the first book to unite empirical research on and public policy options for violent video games, Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents will be an invaluable resource for student and professional researchers in social and developmental psychology and media studies.

Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life by Michael Merzenich

In Soft-Wired, Dr. Michael Merzenich–a world authority on brain plasticity–explains how the brain rewires itself across the lifespan, and how you can take control of that process to improve your life. In addition to fascinating descriptions of how your brain has produced your unique memories, skills, quirks, and emotions, Soft-Wired offers sound advice for evaluating your brain and gives clear, specific, scientifically proven guidance for how to rejuvenate, remodel, and reshape your brain to improve it at any age.

The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey M. Schwartz & Sharon Begley 

A groundbreaking work of science that confirms, for the first time, the independent existence of the mind–and demonstrates the possibilities for human control over the workings of the brain.

Conventional science has long held the position that ‘the mind’ is merely an illusion, a side effect of electrochemical activity in the physical brain. Now in paperback, Dr Jeffrey Schwartz and Sharon Begley’s groundbreaking work, The Mind and the Brain, argues exactly the opposite: that the mind has a life of its own.Dr Schwartz, a leading researcher in brain dysfunctions, and Wall Street Journal science columnist Sharon Begley demonstrate that the human mind is an independent entity that can shape and control the functioning of the physical brain. Their work has its basis in our emerging understanding of adult neuroplasticity–the brain’s ability to be rewired not just in childhood, but throughout life, a trait only recently established by neuroscientists.

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How A New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves by Sharon Begley

In this fascinating and far-reaching book, Newsweek science writer Sharon Begley reports on how cutting-edge science and the ancient wisdom of Buddhism have come together to reveal that, contrary to popular belief, we have the power to literally change our brains by changing our minds. Recent pioneering experiments in neuroplasticity–the ability of the brain to change in response to experience–reveal that the brain is capable of altering its structure and function, and even of generating new neurons, a power we retain well into old age. The brain can adapt, heal, renew itself after trauma, compensate for disabilities, rewire itself to overcome dyslexia, and break cycles of depression and OCD. And as scientists are learning from studies performed on Buddhist monks, it is not only the outside world that can change the brain, so can the mind and, in particular, focused attention through the classic Buddhist practice of mindfulness.

The Road to Character by David Brooks
With the wisdom, humor, curiosity, and sharp insights that have brought millions of readers to his New York Times column and his previous bestsellers, David Brooks has consistently illuminated our daily lives in surprising and original ways. In The Social Animal, he explored the neuroscience of human connection and how we can flourish together. Now, in The Road to Character, he focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me, which emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “résumé virtues”—achieving wealth, fame, and status—and our “eulogy virtues,” those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed.


The Social Animal by David Brooks
With unequaled insight and brio, New York Times columnist David Brooks has long explored and explained the way we live. Now Brooks turns to the building blocks of human flourishing in a multilayered, profoundly illuminating work grounded in everyday life. This is the story of how success happens, told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica. Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to old age, illustrating a fundamental new understanding of human nature along the way: The unconscious mind, it turns out, is not a dark, vestigial place, but a creative one, where most of the brain’s work gets done. This is the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made—the natural habitat of The Social Animal. Brooks reveals the deeply social aspect of our minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism, individualism, and IQ. He demolishes conventional definitions of success and looks toward a culture based on trust and humility. The Social Animal is a moving intellectual adventure, a story of achievement and a defense of progress. It is an essential book for our time—one that will have broad social impact and will change the way we see ourselves and the world.


The Age of Insight by Eric R. Kandel

A brilliant book by Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel, The Age of Insight takes us to Vienna 1900, where leaders in science, medicine, and art began a revolution that changed forever how we think about the human mind—our conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions—and how mind and brain relate to art.