Friday, January 30, 2015

Men and Women: Celebrate the Differences!

I am always filled with laughter when I read the latest major publication indicating "men are different than women." This type of published article will occur yearly and tends to find its way onto the front cover of a major magazine. It is an amazing thing that in 2015 some still find this to be worthy of print. Men and women are different, we have been different since the beginning of time, and anyone trying to argue against this reality is pushing a personal agenda.

My work is focused on the human brain and to no surprise the female brain is different than the male brain. This is true for both structure and more significantly with function or processing. The female brain tends not to be as big simply because the female body tends not to be as large as the male. Females have a larger hippocampus, an area critical to learning and memory and spatial reasoning. Men tend to have a larger amygdala, the area that triggers our "fight or flight" response. Interestingly, women typically do not respond to stress with "fight or flight," but rather use "tend and befriend" as a response to ameliorate stress. This is one primary reason women outlive men on average 5-7 years. Women have more white matter and a larger corpus callosum, that permit more connectivity between the two sides of the brain and across the entire cortex (rumpled grey matter that is the outer shell). Women use both sides of their brain more than men and men tend to use one side, the side dedicated to problem solving, task oriented behavior, and analytic processing.

What does all this mean? It provides everyone with an explanation why men and women struggle with communication. Interestingly, when I deliver my keynotes across the planet, I ask the question "what is a common behavioral struggle between men and women"? Almost immediately a female in the audience will yell "communication." The men simply look at one another not sure what to say! Here a couple of tips to enhance communication in the worksite as corporate America is losing thousands of dollars a year because men process differently than women, and to try and keep relationships alive as marriages break up because men and women do not communicate.

1. Men are task oriented so they will process actual words and not process feelings that surround actual words. (How many times have you females said "you don't listen to me").

2. Men will follow specific tasks quite well and a female wants to be listened to, she needs to state specifically what that means.

3. Women should not presume men know what they are feeling. Men do not know how to "read between the lines."

4. Women need to let a man know when he does a good job of listening so he repeats the behavior.

5. Women are more social, more gregarious, more intuitive, more emphatic and have more adaptive brains. Men tend to isolate, internalize, withdraw, and problem solve.

6. Women can benefit by letting their male partner know he does not need to solve any problems, just listen. It might take a short while for a man to understand this, but give it a try.

7. Because men are task oriented animals and women are both task oriented and process (non task) oriented you can take most behaviors and understand the differences. Shopping to a male is to get in the store, make the purchase and get out. This is not the case for women. Using a public restroom for women is a social event while socialization is the last thing a male considers when using a public restroom. Intimate moments will also reflect significant differences for you to consider.

Most important is the need to understand men and women are different. However, when our brains get together and we actually work at understanding one another beautiful things can occur. We communicate better, we feel better, we create and innovate, we develop a rhythm and enhance the relationship.

Take some time to be conscious of each word and to ask what the male or female in your life hears and processes when you make a statement. Such feedback will facilitate enhanced communication and understanding. Relationships will thrive!

Dr. Nussbaum

Friday, January 23, 2015

Physical Activity and Brain Health

Physical Activity and Brain Health

Every time your heart beats 25% of the blood goes directly to your brain. Imagine, a 3 pound structure in your body demanding 1/4 of the blood and oxygen from each heartbeat! This explains why physical activity, remaining mobile and active, and refraining from a sedentary lifestyle is critical to brain health.

Research is quite robust on this matter. The more physically active a child is the better his or her grades will be. The more physically active an adult is the less likely he or she will develop dementia. Indeed, research has shown a direct cause and effect between regular aerobic exercise and increased volume in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the structure in the brain that lies deep in the temporal region and is responsible for new learning, memory, and spatial reasoning. It is also involved in some of our emotional processing and serves as a vital part of our identity. The hippocampus is structurally and functionally vulnerable to chronic stress and to Alzheimer's disease. It is also the known region in the human brain that generates new brain cells (neurogenesis).

Therefore, physical activity not only is good for the body, it is great for the brain. Regular exercise will help you feel better emotionally, help you think and remember more clearly, help to build the volume and function of your hippocampus, and help to reduce your risk of brain disease later in life. Seems like it is time to get moving. Enjoy a nice brisk walk today and your brain will thank you!

Dr. Nussbaum

Sunday, January 4, 2015


As we enter a brand new year, 2015 I have a small suggestion for you and your health. Be forgiving! First, forgive yourself and bestow mercy upon you. Next, forgive others around you, even those who have brought the most harm. Be Forgiving each day so your brain and body can rejoice and be energized with positive emotion and energy.

Dr. Nussbaum