For thousands of years, philosophers, poets, mystics, and ordinary people have wondered about human experience: What is the nature of, and what causes, all those sensations, thoughts, feelings, desires, and sense of “me?”
The modern sciences of psychology and neurology have been slowly but surely establishing a body of knowledge about the mind and its relationship to the brain and the body. This emerging “science of mind” is in its infancy, and a certain humility is called for.
That said, enough information has emerged to begin connecting some of the major dots, shedding real light on some of our biggest questions. Rick Hanson has been collecting resources to help answer these questions, including:
- Easily understandable, basic information about the nervous system
- Interesting and recent news articles about the brain, psychology, and the science of well-being, mindfulness, and meditation
- Key scientific papers that are available in the public domain
Read Dr. Hanson’s study on positive brain change published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Positive Psychology, December 6, 2021.
About Dr. Rick
The leading expert in Positive Neuroplasticity and creator of the Positive Neuroplasticity Training, Dr. Rick Hanson is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times best-selling author. His books are available in 30 languages – with over a million copies in English alone. He has lectured at NASA, Google, Oxford, and Harvard, taught in meditation centers worldwide, and been featured on the BBC, CBS, NPR, and other major media.
Find out more at RickHanson.net
Are you actively involved in using positive neuroplasticity in your field? Would you like to share your work with a broader audience? Contact us for more details about how to get your work listed on this website.
Your Amazing Brain
Perhaps the most complex object in the universe!
Although your brain is just three pounds of soft, gooshy tofu-like tissue–it has about 200 billion cells.
There are about 85 billion neurons in your brain, averaging several thousand connections each–called synapses–like having several hundred trillion microprocessors wired together in a vast network.
When a neuron fires, that excites or inhibits its receiving neurons. Basically, the sum of all the signals a neuron receives determines whether it will fire–sort of like the dominant message from a crowd of people all shouting “go!” or “stop!”
Adding up all possible combinations of 100 billion neurons firing or not, the number of potential states of your neural network is at least 10 to the millionth power: one followed by one million zeros. (There are “just” 10 to the 80th power atoms in the entire universe.)
FAST AS LIGHTNING
Neurons typically fire 5-50 times a second, with millions and even billions of them pulsing together.
In the half second it takes you to clap your hands, billions of synapses have activated in your brain.
Most brain activity is lightning fast and forever outside of awareness. The slower stuff that we call thoughts and feelings is just the observable tip of an iceberg of lightning quick electrical, chemical – and possibly quantum – activities.
3.5 BILLION YEARS OF EVOLUTION
Human DNA is 98-99% identical to chimpanzee DNA. The crucial 1-2% difference is mainly about the brain–especially its relationship functions.
More than learning how to use tools, more than adapting to moving out of the forest into the grasslands of Africa, it was learning how to love and live with each other that drove recent human evolution.
IT’S ALWAYS HUMMING
Like a refrigerator, the brain is always “on,” with billions of neurons firing every minute in order to keep your body alive and ready for urgent needs.
Even though your brain is just 2-3% of your weight, it uses about 20-25% of the oxygen and glucose circulating in your blood.
THE MIND IS WHAT THE BRAIN DOES
What is the purpose of the remarkable complexity, activity, speed, and evolution of the brain? It is the mind.
The function of the nervous system is to process information. All the information in your nervous system is your mind.
Your mind–like any information–is not physical: you can’t touch it, but it is still real. The brain represents your mind.
Therefore, all mental activity–your thoughts and feelings, joys and sorrows–requires neural activity.
NEURONS THAT FIRE TOGETHER, WIRE TOGETHER
Repeated patterns of mental activity require repeated patterns of brain activity.
Repeated patterns of brain activity change neural structure and function.
YOU CAN USE YOUR MIND
TO CHANGE YOUR BRAIN
TO CHANGE YOUR MIND
To benefit yourself and other beings.