How neuroscience explains your behavior
Director of undergraduate studies for neuroscience and behavior at Notre Dame
Neuroscience of Adversity: Mobilizing Scientific Evidence to Help Children in Distress
The word "neuroscience" can be intimidating. But in my experience, if we decide to be curious instead of intimidated, understanding our brains offers us remarkable insight. This video featuring Stacy Drury not only provides a great foundation of neuroscience basics, but it also offers thoughtful and compelling evidence for why it’s important to work to intentionally and collectively take part in healing from our past.
The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity
The Deepest Well offers the narrative experience of one doctor’s journey to understanding the epic proportions of the toxic stress epidemic in the United States and in many other countries around the world. Nadine Burke Harris, California’s surgeon general, offers accessible language on brain and biological impact while underscoring the urgency in implementing these data into community and medical problem-solving.
In his book My Grandmother's Hands, Resmaa Menakem lays out how racialized trauma continues to injure both Black and white bodies in the 21st century. He takes a therapeutic approach that he embeds within his writing, offering the reader a unique opportunity to heal. We can never heal just by adding new habits or trying to get distance—at some point, we must unpack and heal the past. Hear his thoughts in this episode of ReRooted.
Living as You: “An Urgency for Connection”
I've learned so much about brain function during my training, but one thing that continues to blow my mind is that the brain actually has expectations of its environment and the people around it. This podcast unpacks one of the most critical examples of expectations that we tend to disregard in American culture: attachment. Caring for someone else or depending on people around you is not a joke or a sign of weakness, but a necessity for healthy brain function, and therefore healthy people.
A landmark ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) study, published in the late ’90s, observed the relationship between adult health risk behaviors and childhood abuse and household dysfunction. This 2016 paper draws on approximately two decades of research to offer a framework of thinking about communities as living systems, and deploying our understanding of NEAR science (neuroscience, epigenetics, ACEs, resilience) in mitigating the effects of ACEs through community capacity building.
What Do You Do With an Idea?
Finding our voices can be hard—and using them can be even harder. If our values aren’t in alignment with our familial, social or cultural norms, speaking up not only can be scary, but it can jeopardize our sense of belonging, ultimately destabilizing our neurobiological sense of safety. I love this book because it allows the reader, no matter their age, to wrestle with the doubt and uncertainty that we all experience when we decide to take a chance on ourselves. Your voice is essential in healing within yourself and in your community.
Neurobiology obligates us to be social creatures, and healthy attachment and relationships are foundational to development and lifelong well-being. The evidence of how stress moderates outcomes of issues like mental health, racism, transgenerational trauma, educational gaps and social determinants of health is clear. The evidence also makes it clear that we, as neighbors and community members, can all be remarkable stress buffers and protective forces for others. Together, we can do the hard work of healing. Together, we are bolder, braver and stronger.