Do you ever wonder what makes you, well, you: the way you act, the way you feel, the way you process information from the world around you? Some of it is nature (the unique set of genes you inherited), and some of it is nurture (the environment in which you were raised, both within your family and more broadly within a particular culture).
But there are actually so many other, hidden machinations at work, all of which spring from the brain, a part of the body I’ve dedicated my life to understanding. These forces vary from person to person and even change within an individual, depending on time and circumstance. For example, how is it that some of us can exhibit razor-sharp focus while others are distracted by a flash of a big idea or a tiny crumb on the countertop? Or why is it that some of us get a deep thrill being frightened by a scary movie or a creepy book, and what purpose does it really serve?
So, for Season 8 of the “Chasing Life” podcast, I am going back to where all behaviors, moods and impulses start — the brain — to try to unravel the mysteries within. Not only will we peer inside the brain to learn about what is going on, but because our brain is in a constant conversation with our body, we’ll see the impact on our physical selves and how that, in turn, once again affects the brain.
I have been fascinated by the brain since childhood. And throughout my career as a neurosurgeon, I’ve always asked, “How can we build a stronger brain?” How do we keep our brain sharp, more resilient, less likely to develop problems like dementia? Honestly, in the beginning, it was to just try to help my own brain; my grandfather had dementia, and that worried me. But now I want to share what I’ve learned and, frankly, continue to learn with all of you.
One of the episodes I am most excited about is The Frightened Brain, where I explore why we love a good scare or a good horror movie. You’ll hear a conversation between me and one of my favorite writers of all time, the king (pun very much intended) of horror, Stephen King.