After providing all the funding for The Brain from Top to Bottom for over 10 years, the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction informed us that because of budget cuts, they were going to be forced to stop sponsoring us as of March 31st, 2013.

We have approached a number of organizations, all of which have recognized the value of our work. But we have not managed to find the funding we need. We must therefore ask our readers for donations so that we can continue updating and adding new content to The Brain from Top to Bottom web site and blog.

Please, rest assured that we are doing our utmost to continue our mission of providing the general public with the best possible information about the brain and neuroscience in the original spirit of the Internet: the desire to share information free of charge and with no adverstising.

Whether your support is moral, financial, or both, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Bruno Dubuc, Patrick Robert, Denis Paquet, and Al Daigen

Tuesday, 12 March 2024
How “awe” contributes to our well-being

In November 2023, many music fans in Quebec and elsewhere were saddened to hear that Karl Tremblay, lead singer of the folk-rock group Cowboys Fringants, had died of prostate cancer at age 47. Many of his fans remembered the moments of magic that they had experienced at the group’s concerts—the feelings of true oneness that only music can provide. People often have similar, fleeting experiences of wonder when out in nature—for example, beholding a beautiful sunset, or a sky full of stars or the view from the top of a mountain—or with the help of magic mushrooms or other psychedelic substances. The term “awe” is often used quite aptly to refer to these experiences when we feel part of something greater than ourselves, with a mixture of admiration and amazement, along with some fear, reverence and respect.

How do these experiences of awe arise in us, and how do they contribute to our mental and physical well-being? Those are precisely the questions addressed in an article entitled “Awe as a Pathway to Mental and Physical Health ”, published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in August 2022. The authors identify five processes that contribute to such experiences: neurophysiological changes (such as reduced arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, increased release of the hormone ocytocin, and reduced inflammation), a diminished focus on the self, an increase in prosocial interactions (such as cooperation and sharing), a greater sense of being integrated into strong social networks, and a feeling that our lives make more sense because of our enhanced ability to perceive connections.

The authors propose that these processes be studied in order to better understand how these experiences can be highly beneficial to our body and brain, which form an inextricably linked whole — a subject that I discuss at some length in the book that I’m working on now.


The Emergence of Consciousness | Comments Closed

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