Fathers and their children reshape one another’s neurons
By Brian Mossop
Does parenting ReWire the Dad’s brain? Here’s a very interesting article from Scientific American that takes a look at how understanding the new brain connections that result from parenthood.
Last May, I took a trip to San Diego for my brother-in-law’s graduation from college, and to meet his 4-month old son, Landon, for the first time. Throughout the weekend, I couldn’t suppress my inner science nerd, and often found myself probing my nephew’s foot reflexes. Pressured from my wife’s disapproving looks and the blank stares I received from her family as I explained why his toes curled this way or that, I dropped the shop-talk in favor of baby-talk.
Having spent my postdoctoral career in neuroscience, brain development is particularly fascinating to me. But on this family visit, more striking than the baby’s neurodevelopment was the re-development of my 26-year-old brother-in-law.
In just a few months’ time, Jack went from my wife’s little brother to a hands-on, first-time father. When I first met Jack, he was a tall, lanky, wet-behind-the-ears nineteen-year-old kid, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy right after graduating high school. As a two-tour Iraq war veteran, Jack saw more of the world in six years than most of us ever will, and had a large repertoire of crazy sailor stories to boot. [click to continue…]
More from Dan Siegel, MD — author of The Mindful Brain and Mindsight, and my #1 neuroscience-meets-relationships hero.
by Rick Heller
Daniel Siegel is a psychiatrist and author. His 2007 book, The Mindful Brain, is a scientific take on the practice of mindfulness, which is often defined as “non-judgmental attention to the present moment.” Siegel’s newest book is The Mindful Therapist, a text aimed at clinicians. Siegel is himself a clinician and an educator as well as co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA and co-investigator at the Center for Culture, Brain and Development. The following is an edited version of our conversation.
TNH: Before Herbert Benson came out with The Relaxation Response, scientific research on meditation was pretty rare. It seems like in the last ten years, it’s become a trend. What has happened?
Siegel: A couple of things have happened. There’s been a rigorous approach to the teaching of certain forms of meditation, and then the publication in peer-reviewed journals of work—especially in mindfulness meditation—that’s not been a part of someone’s proprietary thing but rather controlled studies that are published in the scientific journals…When you control for how reflective practices are done, you can show there are systematic changes not only in cognitive functions, but also the way the brain functions. People have started opening their eyes to that.
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Independence is seriously overrated.
We’re big on independence here in the US. I love the Fourth of July, our local neighborhood parade with kids and dogs, and politicians giving speeches at the end while we sweat and eat drippy popsicles. I love what it stands for, declaring what we hold to be self-evident truths and getting out of tyrannical relationships. And, of course, the fireworks (ooooooh… aaaaaaaaaahh).
But sometimes I wonder if American culture isn’t more than a bit too enamored of independence. If being independent is the pinnacle of accomplishment — for our country, for our kids — then how do we live well with one another — globally, or individually?
Maybe even more to the point, what goes on in the brains of those who are stoically independent, and does it serve their well-being?
Here’s a take on it from one of my favorite bloggers, Mark Brady, PhD: “Having long aspired to it, I’m now pretty convinced that rugged individualism is how neurological disorganization plays out for any number of us.” [click to continue…]