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Do You Know Your Brain Type? Take Dr. Amen’s Assessment

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Do You Know Your Brain Type? Take Dr. Amen’s AssessmentDo you like taking quizzes to learn more about yourself? Dr. Daniel Amen has a fascination Brain Health Assessment that determines your brain type. He says that “knowing your brain type will help you make specific lifestyle changes to optimize your brain, sharpen focus, and increase energy.” Sounds good!

This free quiz will ask you questions about being organized, distracted, attention span, patience, losing train of thought, ability to delay gratification, memory, diet, anxiety, exercise, quality of relationships, and more.

Rather than racing through it, I recommend you use a notebook and take notes, as you deeply think about your answer to each question. Pay special attention to the areas you find difficult or the ones that you know need to be improved. Then do some research and think about how you can improve your brain and you life.

After you finish, why not ask someone who knows you well to answer the questions for you, to see if he or she agrees with your results. That will reveal any blind spots you might have.

Yes, you will have to give your email address to receive the full assessment, but I trust Dr. Amen completely. In the past he did SPECT scans on my daughters, and his recommendations were extremely helpful. Plus you can unsubscribe at any time.

Immediately after entering your email, you’ll go to a page with a partial summary of your assessment. It also offers you some paid services on the assessment page. But the real goodies are delivered into your inbox.

The full report gives you your brain type – there are 16! And you’ll find your brain assessment, grading you on the following seven areas:

  • Brain Health
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Exec Function
  • Inner Peace
  • Mood
  • Flexible Thinking

Then you’ll see personalized recommendations for your brain type in eight different areas that affect your brain health.

As in any assessment tool, the goal is to become more aware of what you’re doing and how you can improve. Assessments like this are used by thousands of medical and mental health professionals around the world. Of course, you should always talk with your healthcare professional before making any changes.

To make lasting changes, many people need to enlist the help of a professional. There’s no shame in that. The only shame would be if you fail to seek help when you need it. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Take Dr. Daniel Amen’s Brain Health Assessment

Is This Normal Anxiety... or an Anxiety Disorder?

Monday, February 19, 2018


Find out how you can tell if your anxiety has gone beyond the normal range and your feelings of nervousness, fearfulness, and apprehension could be classified as an anxiety disorder.As unwelcome as anxiety is, it is a very normal reaction to stress. There are times when we all feel nervous, fearful, or apprehensive. New experiences where you can’t anticipate the outcome, high-pressure situations and stressful events will often cause a measure of anxiety.

Anxiety is often felt physically as much as it is emotionally. It results in physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, trembling, breathlessness, and nausea. Anxiety can also affect your mood, making you irritable or unable to relax.

The good news is that for many people, anxiety goes as quickly as it comes. Once the stressful event that induced the anxiety in the first place is over, their feelings normalize. They are able to handle the discomfort and uncertainty of anxiety without outside intervention.

But what if your feelings don’t normalize after some time passes? What if feelings of anxiety nag at you on a daily basis? You may suffer from an anxiety disorder. How can you tell?

Anxiety disorders disrupt your day-to-day life. Persons who deal with an anxiety disorder struggle with concentration, focus, and sleep. Their feelings are so severe that they begin to affect their work, relationships, and health. Anxiety becomes controlling, debilitating, and inescapable.

Anxiety disorders are persistent. Like I mentioned, normal feelings of anxiety pass relatively quickly. Persons suffering from an anxiety disorder experience severe anxiety for months. The general standard is that if you have more anxious days than not in a six-month period, you may be dealing with an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders defy reason. You’ve thoroughly examined the situation causing you stress and anxiety. You’ve determined that your anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. You know you have good reason to move on and let go of these feelings. But you still can’t seem to shake your concerns and anxiety? Something more than “normal” anxiety may be going on.

It must be noted that anxiety disorders are not “personality flaws.” They are actually physical brain disorders. People with an anxiety disorder associate a new experience with an old emotional response that lingers in their brain. The previous anxious feelings are now attached to the new, and often unrelated, experience. So even though there’s no true reason for anxiety, their brain tells you that there is.

Functional magnetic resonance images (fMRIs) of an anxious brain vs. a healthy brain shows a fundamental brain difference. They show response differences in the amygdale and in the primary sensory regions of the brain, thus supporting the theory that emotional experiences cause changes in sensory representations in anxious brains. This reaction is not something that an anxious person can control. Their brain is literally wired differently.

Do you think you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder? Contact a qualified therapist. They can perform a careful diagnostic evaluation and recommend a course of treatment. Together, you and your therapist can find the treatment and approach that is best for you.

There are measures you can take to relieve some of your anxiety outside of the treatment you are receiving from your doctor. Here are some things that have worked for my clients in the past:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Avoid sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Practice deep breathing techniques.

  • Exercise regularly.


  • Find time to relax and spend time with the people you love.

Remember that you can treat your anxiety disorder. Research is yielding new, improved therapies to help those with anxiety disorders to lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, please call for an appointment. My office is located in Jantzen Beach, and I also offer convenient online therapy.

Entrepreneurs – How Mindfulness Is Good for Business

Monday, January 22, 2018


Practice mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you stay focused, less stressed, and more positive, as part of your self-care regimen, to benefit yourself and your business.As an entrepreneur, you probably work long hours. Between building your business and caring for your family, self-care can quickly take a backseat.

But with what result? A lot of built up stress with no relief in sight. This is bad for you, and for your business. To combat the personal and professional consequences of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, I encourage many of clients to employ the practice of mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? Simply put, mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. You focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you objectively consider your thoughts and feelings, thus helping you be truly present, living in the moment.

Before you dismiss mindfulness as some sort of hippie nonsense, there is solid, scientific evidence supporting the benefits of meditation. The latest research in neuroscience suggests that mindfulness causes real, observable changes in the brain. There is decreased activity areas of the brain associated with mind-wandering combined with increased activity in the areas associated with focus and cognitive control. There is also decreased activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety. Finally, they have noticed an increase in activity in the left frontal cortex which is associated with positivity.

So mindfulness changes your brain to be more focused and controlled, less stressed, and more positive. How do these changes then benefit your business? Mindfulness helps you to:

  • Discover your true motivation and drive. Entrepreneurs burn out when they do things for the wrong reasons, such as fame, fortune, or notoriety. Of course everyone needs to make money, and it’s not wrong to want recognition, but if these are your only motives behind your business, you will get pulled off track quickly. Mindfulness guides you back to the greater reasons you started your business. It helps you gain satisfaction from doing things for yourself and for the right reasons. Because of this, you and your business can continue on and grow.

  • Develop resilience. You will see how every failure, every bump in the road, is a chance to learn. Instead of becoming frustrated and giving up, you will develop the resilience needed to keep going in spite of problems. You will have an easier time standing back up and dusting yourself off. It helps you continue to get things done, even under very challenging circumstances.

  • Make needed changes. Mindfulness helps you challenge your approach to life and business when you reach a roadblock or experience failure. It helps you analyze your problem and determine objectively why you are not obtaining the results you want. The process of mindfulness helps you try different things, even when you are naturally opposed to change.

  • Trust your instincts. Entrepreneurs often use their instincts and intuition to make some of the best decisions for their life and business. You need to train yourself to trust your gut. So often entrepreneurs are stressed, pulled at from all directions, get advice and input from numerous sources, to the point that they lose confidence in their own instincts. Practices like mindfulness help you tune into your inner voice and reconnect with your intuition.

  • Enjoy the success you have right now. Entrepreneurs set goals and work toward them like no one else, and that’s part of why you are successful! But many entrepreneurs fail to slow down and rejoice in their present successes. Mindfulness helps you to focus on the things that make you feel successful now. This, in turn, will help you create more success.

Entrepreneurs face many challenges. What challenges are you dealing with? Could you use help achieving a more balanced and satisfying lifestyle? If so, contact my office and schedule an appointment. My office is located in Jantzen Beach, and I also offer online therapy if that is a better fit for your busy schedule.

8 Easy Ways to Take Care of Your Brain

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Your brain is the center and leader of your body, so take time to improve the health of your brain which will, in turn, help your whole body function at an optimal level.What are your resolutions for 2018? Popular New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on improving physical health by living a more active lifestyle. While this is important, there is a part of a person’s overall health that is often overlooked – brain health.

Why is it important to maintain a healthy brain? The brain is the center and leader of the body. When it’s not functioning at an optimal level, the whole body experiences stress. Of concern, too, is that without proper care your brain loses an average of 85,000 cells a day. This loss of brain cells contributes to the aging process.

The good news is that you can slow your brain’s aging process and increase your mental agility by thinking ahead and making brain health a priority.

How can you make brain a health a priority this year? Try some of these simple suggestions:

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is known to literally change the size of your brain. Regular exercise has been found to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that plays an important role in memory and learning. Exercise can double or triple the number of new cells in the hippocampus. These new cells translate to a significantly better ability to learn new things and remember experiences.

  • Eat a variety of healthful foods. What you put in your body has a direct effect on its ability to perform, starting with how your brain functions. Lean protein, whole grains, green leafy veggies, and healthy fats that contain Omega 3 fatty acids are great for your brain.

  • Stay hydrated. Your brain is 85% water, so don’t let yourself get dehydrated. Drink plenty of water. Add a little lemon or some cucumber slices if that will help motivate you to drink more water. Also steer clear of anything that dehydrates you. Alcohol, caffeine, and salt should be consumed in moderation.

  • Get more sleep. Depression, memory issues and poor decision-making skills are directly linked to lack of sleep. While you are sleeping, your brain is working hard to consolidate your memories, link them up with old memories, create new neural pathways that help you retrieve memories, and form connections between thoughts and ideas. It also uses that time to flush toxins out of your brain. So make sure you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night, even if you think you are functioning just fine on less.

  • Reduce stress. Easier said than done, I know. But regardless of how difficult it may be to cut stressors out of your life, it is necessary for the health of your brain. Chronic stress kills cells in the memory centers of your brain. Exercise, healthy eating, and sleep all help reduce stress levels. The practice of mindfulness can also help you refocus and recharge. Even just a few minutes of meditation can quiet your mind and reduce stress.

  • Exercise your brain. Learn a new language, learn how to dance, or just try brushing your teeth with your less dominant hand. Learning new things helps develop new neural pathways in your brain. 

  • Consider brain-training activities. The idea is that by performing certain tasks like crossword puzzles and memory games, you can improve your cognitive abilities such as memory and attention. While researchers in the field have mixed feelings about the benefits of brain-training, studies indicate that learning and thinking of any type can improve the survival and function of young brain cells.

  • Be positive. Studies have found that focusing on negative thoughts changes the brain – when thinking negatively, creativity, learning and imagination all go down. Focusing on positive, hopeful thoughts, on the other hand, changes the brain in a good way. If you struggle with positive thinking, try this: keep a gratitude journal. Write down the good things you have in your life, from big to small.

Every brain is different, though, and needs different things to stay healthy. According to Dr. Daniel Amen, a leading psychiatrist, there are 16 different brain types. Take the Aman Assessment quiz to find out what type of brain you have. Knowing your brain type can help you make decisions and lifestyle changes that will optimize your brain function, sharpen your focus, raise your energy levels, and get the right tools to conquer your day.

Still need helping achieving balance and staying healthy in all areas of your life? I can help you identify the areas that are out of balance so you can make the needed changes. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for you.

Exercise May Help Boost the Effects of Brain-Training

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


The latest studies indicate that you can see the greatest benefits of brain-training if it is paired with a regular exercise routine.By now you must have heard about one of the hottest new trends in self-improvement – brain-training. The general idea is that you can improve your cognitive abilities such as memory and attention by performing certain tasks, such as crossword puzzles and memory games. Proponents of brain-training claim it can make you smarter and make your life better.

It sounds great, in theory. But scientists are divided about whether brain-training is really as valuable as claimed. Brain-training programs typically have limited effects. Researchers have found that persons who participate in brain-training typically only improve the specific type of memory and thinking tested. For example, if you practice crossword puzzles, you’ll get better at crossword puzzles, but your memory may not improve.

Some studies in animals indicate, however, that learning and thinking of any type can improve the survival and function of young brain cells. So there is definite value in taking the time to train your brain. But if you’re putting in the effort to improve your brain function and memory, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. How can you enhance the effects of brain-training and thereby increase the benefits you receive?

The key to boosting the effect of brain-training is exercise.

Exercise is known to literally change the size of your brain. Regular exercise has been found to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that plays an important role in memory and learning. It does this via a process called neurogenesis, or the birth of new brain cells. Exercise can double or triple the number of new cells in the hippocampus. These new cells translate to a significantly better ability to learn new things and remember experiences.

Now let’s link this back to brain-training. Exercise helps produce brand new brain cells. Brain-training helps strengthen them. By combining exercise and brain-training, you can continuously produce and maintain healthy, strong brain cells. The two can work in tandem to improve your cognitive abilities.

According to an article in the New York Times, scientists in Canada conducted a 6-week study to test this theory. They split their study participants into three groups: one who neither exercised nor participated in brain-training, one who exercised, and one who both exercised and participated in brain-training. As you would suspect, the participants who exercised performed better on memory tests.

The improvement in memory was most noticeable among the participants whose fitness had improved the most, especially among those who had simultaneously practiced brain-training. Higher fitness levels resulted in stronger memories. Brain-training added to the effect, improving types of memory that weren’t even part of the training.

So if you want to improve your cognitive abilities and memory, exercise both your body and your mind. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Incorporate a short session of brain-training before and after your workout to see benefits. For example, take a moment to memorize a painting or a face, and then try to recall the details after you exercise.

To keep all parts of your life in healthy, productive alignment, take time to attend to your whole person. If you feel like any part of your mind, body or spirit is out of alignment, and it is causing you stress, please contact my office to make an appointment. I also offer online therapy.

Train Your Brain to be a Successful Entrepreneur

Monday, September 11, 2017


Entrepreneurs - your attitude is integral to your success so make these small, simple changes to literally rewire your brain to think positivelyWhen you think of training you might think of learning a new professional skill. Or you might think of a personal training regiment that whips your body into shape. But have you ever considered training your brain to be more positive?
 
To be a successful entrepreneur, you need a positive attitude. Is it really that important? Yes, here are a few key reasons:

  • Entrepreneurship is like a roller coaster ride. There are ups and downs, things that make you happy that turn right around and make you want to scream. Because of the constant changes and challenges that can arise, it is necessary to cultivate a positive attitude. It will keep you grounded and able to see beyond your current circumstances. Optimistic entrepreneurs are better at problem-solving and bouncing back from disappointment.

  • Your attitude rubs off on those you work with. If you are consistently negative, the people you work with will reflect back that attitude. In contrast, if you make the effort to have positive conversations in the workplace, your employees will follow suit. Happier, more positive employees make for better, more efficient and effective employees. It also contributes to a healthier work environment for everyone.

  • Clients can perceive what your attitude is. When you show a positive attitude about life and your product, customers will want to do business with you. This, of course, will lead your business to greater profitability and success.

  • Your attitude affects your day-to-day life. When you are positive, you feel in control and confident. You are motivated to take good care of your physical and mental health. These are the tools you need to perform at your best and make the most of your entrepreneurship.

What if you aren’t a naturally positive person? That’s okay, because with a little bit of effort you can literally change the structure of your brain to think more positively.
 
In your brain you have neural pathways that control your emotions. If your inclination is toward the negative, the neural pathways for negativity become stronger. It is like a muscle. It gets worked most often, so it becomes the strongest.
 
On the up side, your brain is capable of generating new pathways. So it’s possible to train the circuitry in your brain to promote positive responses. When you look for the good in life, you activate different neural pathways in your brain. Dopamine and serotonin production is increased, soothing and calming you.  The more you stimulate these circuits in your brain, the stronger they become. Positivity will become a more automatic response.
 
It doesn’t take much to rewire your brain this way. You can learn to be more positive by practicing simple skills that foster positivity. Some of these skills include:

  • Beginning each day with a positive thought. Simple, right? But it is very powerful. It will help you set the tone for your day and make the choice early on to think positively.

  • Practicing gratitude. Take note of the things each day that you are grateful for. Some of my clients find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal.

  • Doing good for others. If you focus on thinking about other people and working to make their life better, you think about your own problems and worries less. This, in turn, keeps you from dwelling on the negative and moves you to focus on the positive.

  • Living one moment at a time. Focus on the present and making that day the best it can be. The practice of mindfulness helps many of my clients to focus and see the good in their day.

Sometimes a negative attitude is a signal of something more serious. It could be that you’re suffering from depression or anxiety. Don’t put your mental health on the backburner. It may be time to consider enlisting the help of a trained professional. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach for an appointment. If it works better with your busy schedule, I also offer online therapy.

How to Rewire Your Brain to Learn More Easily

Wednesday, September 06, 2017


Keep your love of learning alive, even if you struggle with learning new concepts, by using this proven formula for fully engaging your brain in the processOne of my clients, a 10 year old boy, wanted to beat me at Scrabble. Secretly he'd started playing an online word game that he called "Scrabble on steroids." He didn't beat me last time, but he came darned close. His score jumped from an average of the low 50s, to 151! Furthermore, he knew the meaning of the words.

As a psychologist, I use a variety of less formal techniques such as playing board games with my young clients. My goal is to put them at ease and level the playing field so that they will open up about their problems. I had no idea that this child would develop an interest in words and in competing with me. By the way, he has shown disinterest in reading and is falling behind at school. We shall see if his new love of Scrabble portends improvements at school this fall. I hope so.

This just goes to show that, by sparking desire, any of us can improve the way that we learn. To further illustrate this, a recent New York Times article reports on how Dr. Oakley, co-creator of the popular course, “Learning How to Learn,” has helped more than a million students from 200 countries.

Dr. Oakley’s lessons are rich in metaphor, which she says helps get complex ideas across, because metaphors use the same neural circuits in the brain as the underlying concept does. It gives your brain a pattern to follow so you can understand the difficult concept more rapidly and easily.

Cognitive scientists show that your brain has two modes of thinking: task-positive networks (“focused” so you can concentrate) and default-mode networks (“diffuse” so you rest and let your brain make connections and attain insight).

To fully engage both modes, Dr. Oakley recommends you set a timer for 25 minutes of “focused” work, followed by a break for “diffuse” reflection. Use the break for taking your mind off the task. Listen to a song, take a walk, do anything that helps you relax. This allows your brain to subconsciously connect the new knowledge with what you already know.

Over time, we all create a mental library of well-practiced neural “chunks” (Dr. Oakley’s term for the patterns we impress into our brains). For example, we work hard to learn how to ride a bike or play a musical instrument, and once we know it, we don’t forget it. We can do it automatically.

You can build and connect new chunks on previous chunks, so your neural network of automatic patterns keep growing and expanding into more difficult information. For example, elementary math is the building block for Algebra and Calculus. With enough practice, they too can become a breeze for you.

We never want to lose our joy of learning because it contributes so much to our joy of living. If you’d like to learn about how to enhance your potential, consider scheduling an online NLP session with me. It’s an efficient technique for being more successful in your chosen endeavors. It eliminates the guesswork as it gives you a time-tested structure to follow for understanding emotions, goal setting, negotiating, problem solving, creativity and more.

Read more on my website: Gifted Adults and NLP.

Researchers Find Insomnia Isn’t Just a Night Disorder

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


Insomnia is not just a night disorder1 am… 3 am…. 3:47 am…. All night long you toss and turn, not getting a wink of sleep. Why can’t you fall asleep? You’re tired beyond tired. If you can just get through tomorrow, you’re bound to sleep better tomorrow night. Right? Not necessarily.

Do you think of insomnia as solely a night disorder?
You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that. Contrary to this popular belief, scientists are finding that insomnia is a 24-hour condition. It’s not just your sleepless night causing you to have a bad day. It’s your day causing your sleepless night. It’s a loop that your brain gets into that needs to be broken.

Psychology Today has an informative article by Michael J. Breus Ph.D. on a number of recent studies on insomnia. Using EEG, researchers measured brain activity during wakeful, resting states, both with eyes open and eyes closed. They found that people with insomnia displayed:

  • Less powerful alpha-wave activity in the frontal and temporal lobes (with eyes open). Alpha waves indicate restfulness.
  • More powerful beta-wave activity throughout the brain (with eyes closed). Greater beta wave activity indicates hyper-arousal.

In a nutshell, daytime hyper-arousal of the brain carries over into nighttime, resulting in insomnia.

Scientists at the University of Michigan found that daytime alertness and anxiety were the only predictors for the use of prescription sleep medication. However, they also note that, “insomnia patients who used prescription sleep aids showed no significant improvement to their sleep at the one-year follow up compared to people with insomnia who didn’t take sleep medication.” And according to researchers at Penn State University, this 24-hour hyper-arousal can start at a young age.

Will easing your day-time anxiety help you overcome insomnia? It can certainly help. Many people have also found relief from CBT-I (Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia). It breaks the cycle by retraining your brain.

If you suffer from insomnia, check with your physician. If no physical causes can be found for your insomnia, it’s time to enlist the help of a mental health professional. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Do You Talk to Yourself Out Loud? Science Shows Why It’s a Good Idea

Monday, August 07, 2017


Do You Talk to Yourself Out Loud? Science Says That’s GoodHave you always thought that talking to yourself out loud means you’re going crazy? Well, science is showing that it’s actually a good way to see a situation more objectively.

Psychologists call talking to yourself out loud “external self-talk”. And it can take two basic forms: instructional self-talk (walking yourself through a process) or motivational self-talk (“I’ve got this. I can do this.”)

Interestingly, studies have shown that motivational self-talk works best if you refer to yourself in the second or third person (“You can do this. Insert-your-name, you’ve got this.”) It distances you further from the experience, enhances your self-control and lowers your anxiety more. As a result, it helps you to be more objective and less emotional. (Ethan Kross, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan has published a pdf of his findings. Click here to read it.)

A recent New York Times article gives further insight on how instructional self-talk benefits you. For one thing, it blocks out distractions so you can focus better. It also employs the feedback hypothesis, namely by hearing it out loud you can visualize the object, which makes your brain connect to its “file of information” on that object.

For example, in their experiments, they asked people to locate a specific item out of series of random items. Those that spoke the name of the object out loud located the object more accurately and quickly, because their brains retrieved the visual image of the object.

So, no, you’re not going crazy if you talk to yourself out loud. It’s a smart thing to do – with one caveat – make sure your self-talk is always positive and encouraging. Negative self-talk is very damaging. It can even change your brain chemistry.

When you’re controlled by habitually negative patterns of thinking, it’s time to seek professional help. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Does neuroscience fascinate you? Why not review some of my past articles. Simply type “Brain Science” into the Search Box on this page and enjoy!

How the Brain Encodes and Stores Facial Memories

Monday, July 31, 2017


Learn how your brain stores and encodes facial recognition so you’re able to recognize someone even if you haven’t seen each other for decades.You’ve been asked to identify a woman in a series of photographs. You haven’t seen her in years, but as a picture of a crowd flashes before your face, you exclaim, “Stop! Go back! I think I saw her!” Yes, you recognized her instantly. How is that possible?

There’s a fascinating article in the New York Times that sheds light on how the brain encodes and stores facial memories. Here are some of the highlights...

Two Caltech biologists, Le Chang and Doris Y. Tsao, experimented on macaque monkeys to see how the brain responds to facial images. (Their recognition system seems to be very similar to ours.) They found that:

● “The face recognition system consists of face cells grouped into patches of at least 10,000 each.

● There are six of these patches on each side of the brain, situated on the cortex, or surface, just behind the ear.

● When the image of a face hits the eye’s retina, it’s converted into electric signals.

● These signals pass through five or six sets of neurons and are processed at each stage before they reach the face cells.

● The face cells receive information about the shape, dimensions and features of a face.

● 50 such dimensions are required to identify a face.”

When a monkey looked at a face, the biologists were able to reconstruct the facial features, just by monitoring the pattern in which the monkey's face cells were firing. Take a look at the images in the New York Times article. It’s amazing how similar these reconstructed images are to the real ones.


The finding are, at this time unconfirmed in other labs. But this could be a monumental breakthrough. I’m excited to see if this will lead to new ways we can help those with ASD perceive facial expressions. That would be a fantastic discovery indeed!

If you’d like to learn more about how the autistic brain works, I provide online education specifically for families with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). My focus is on applying neuroscience and psychology to improve your relationships. And if you have specific issues you need help with, you might qualify for online therapy as well. Contact my office and schedule a session.



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