John Medina on Aging Well (BS 138)


Dr. John Medina has spent his career in bio-engineering, but he also has a deep interest in how the brain works. In his latest book Brain Rules for Aging Well: 10 Principles for Staying Vital, Happy, and Sharp, he presents our knowledge brain aging in an engaging manner that can be enjoyed by readers of all backgrounds.

In this month's episode of Brain Science (BS 138) we discuss some of the most important principles for nourishing brains as we age. He describes what he calls the "dopamine lollipop," which is the surge of dopamine created by activities such as teaching and physical activities like dancing. Some of his ideas reinforce what we have discussed in previous episodes, but there are new ideas that are relevant to listeners of all ages.

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BSP 115: Eastern Philosophy and Western Neuroscience


Scientific interest in the Mind and Consciousness is relatively new, but both Western and Eastern Philosophy have a long tradition of exploring these topics. In his new book Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy, Evan Thompson explores how these diverse traditions can inform and enrich one another.

Thompson goes beyond a narrow view of consciousness, which focuses only on the waking state. Instead he considers how dreaming, lucid dreaming, and even near death experiences can advance our understanding of how our brain's generate both consciousness and our sense of Self. 

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Related Episodes:

  • BSP 5: Very brief introduction to Philosophy of Mind.

  • BSP 55: Patricia Churchland, PhD, discusses Neurophilosophy.

  • BSP 58: Alva Noë, PhD, discusses Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness.

  • BSP 67: Thomas Metzinger discusses The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self.

  • BSP 73: Embodied Cognition with Lawrence Shapiro, PhD.

  • BSP 81: Patricia Churchland discusses Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality.

  • BSP 89: Evan Thompson discusses Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind.

  • BSP 96: Robert Burton, MD discusses A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves.


  • This month's Audible recommendation: The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults byFrances E. Jensen, MD

  • The next episode of the Brain Science Podcast will feature Dr. Norman Doidge talking about his new book The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity.

  • Reminder: the 25 most recent episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always free, but Premium subscribers have unlimited access to all back episodes and transcripts. The Brain Science Podcast Mobile App is FREE. It is a great way to consume both free and premium content (since this will not appear in iTunes or other podcasting apps).

  • Please share your feedback about this episode by sending email to or going to the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum at You can also post to our fan pages on Facebook or Google+. I am looking for help with these community pages so please email me at if you are interested.

Meditation and the Brain with Daniel Siegel, MD (BSP 44)

Daniel Siegel, M.D.

In Episode 44 of the Brain Science Podcast I talk with Daniel Siegel, MD about meditation and the brain.  Dr. Siegel is the author of several books including The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.  In this interview, we review the scientific evidence about how mindfulness meditation changes the brain, both in terms of short term activity and in terms of long-term structural changes.  The evidence is convincing that a regular mindfulness practice can be an important element of brain health.

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  • Buy mp3 for $1.
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  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Show Notes and Links

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.:

Scientists and writers mentioned in Episode 44:

More information about meditation:

Note: Insight Meditation is based of vipassana meditation, the mindfulness practices of Theravada, the oldest branch of Buddhism.  Insight Meditation is easily adapted to secular purposes because it not based on beliefs or dogmas.  The most well-known secular form is called mindfulness meditation, which begins with a focus on breath awareness and then advances to developing compassion for oneself and others.

Researchers are studying people who practice other types of mediation also. Richard Davidson has focused his work on the study of Tibetan Buddhist monks.  Their practice emphasizes the development of compassion.

*I discussed the therapeutic use of mediation with Delany Dean, PhD, in Episode 20 of Books and Ideas.

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Neuroplasticity: A Review of its Discovery (BSP 10)


In this episode of the Brain Science Podcast we explore the recent research that has established, contrary to long-standing dogma, that our brains our able to change throughout our lives, based on our experience.

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  • Buy BSP 1-10 (zip file of mp3 files)
  • Transcripts: BSP 1-14
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Show Notes

The reference for this episode is Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves, by Sharon Begley.  This book describes the 2004 meeting between the Dalai Llama and several leading neuroscientists.  To learn more about these meetings, go to the Mind and Life Institute website.  All the studies that I mention in the podcast are referenced in the back of the book.

Here is a list of the some of the scientists and their work:

  • Michael Meany- McGill University: He has shown that the way that a mother rat treats her babies determine which genes in the baby's brain are turned on and which are turned off.
  • Fred Gage- the Salk Institute:  His work with lab animals showed that adult brains do change.  (more from Google)
  • Helen Neville-University of Oregon: She has shown that the auditory and visual cortices are rewired in people who are born blind or deaf.
  • Phillip Shaver-UC-Davis: He is a pioneer in attachment theory: how people's sense of emotional security, acquired in childhood, affects their adult behavior, including their response to other ethnic groups and their willingness to help others.
  • Richard Davidson-Wisconsin:  He has done studies showing how the brain is changed by meditation.
  • Edward Taub- University of Alabama in Birmingham:  He helped develop a revolutionary treatment for stroke victims.
  • Jeffery Schwartz-UCLA:  He has used mindfulness meditation to treat obsessive compulsive disorder, showing that meditation can change the brain in beneficial ways.
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn- University of Massachusetts:  He has done many years of work using mindfulness meditation to treat stress related diseases.
  • Michael Merzenich:  Pioneer researcher who also founded FastForward™ and Posit Science™.

More Links of Interest:

I am sure this list is incomplete.  If you have a question or comment about a topic mentioned on the show, leave a comment below, or send me email at