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Neuroscience of Type workshops in NYC

Dario Nardi, Ph.D., is an author and award-winning UCLA professor. Since 2005, he has been strapping EEG caps on his willing students to study real-time brain activity. He discovered that people with different personality type preferences use their brains in fundamentally different ways.

He's in New York today offering an afternoon and evening session hosted by the New York Chapter of the Association of Psychological Type on Monday, April 28th. You can register here

If you can't make it, buy his book, or have a look at this video:

Want to see for yourself?

I'm certified to facilitate Dario's findings on the neuroscience of Type. Fill out your own NeuroPQ inventory,

Enter your name, choose "Doris Fuellgrabe" as your facilitator, and answer 56 questions. You will be asked to provide demographic information for statistical analysis and administration purposes. 

Purchasing the Neuroscience of Type item on the right will prompt you to download a pdf describing how to book a debrief session. 


Your Brain in Numbers


Your Brain in Numbers

You've probably heard by now that your brain is the most formidable organ ever to have existed.

The kid on Jerry Maguire taught you that the human head weighth three poundth

But did you know that a Japanese super computer - the fourth largest in the world - tried to simulate one second of 1 % of a human brain's capability - and that took 40 minutes? (1) 

So what are some other numbers to describe your brain? 

Apparently, Intel is working on a computer with similar processing power as the brain. Look out for a notice ca. 2018. 

For another great article on how alcohol doesn't actually kill brain cells (except if you drink it in quantities or concentrations that would actually kill the whole you), read this

Image by Gerry Shaw, Creative Commons License




Your Brain and Love


Your Brain and Love

Valentine's Day may be over, but I hope you're still feeling loved and connected. 

Oxytocin is the hormone that is also known as the "love" hormone. Levels in your bloodstream go up when you hug or kiss someone. It increases bonding between mother and child during and after childbirth, and oxytocin receptors are distributed throughout various regions of your brain. 

Experiments show that people who receive oxytocin e.g. via a nasal spray are more likely to empathize and collaborate with relative strangers (1).

More recently, oxytocin may also find application in children with autism, as it seems to stimulate those brain regions that encourage social behavior. (2)

Other studies suggest that children also respond to invitations to play. They may be experiencing more stress than their peers, as measured by increased levels of cortisol in their saliva, but they more easily interact when invited. (3) 

Before you grab that spray, be warned of the consequences: You may find yourself more focused on facial expression, and able to identify e.g. fear more easily. Unfortunately, one side effect of too much oxytocin can be over-sensitivity and misreading of such social cues, meaning you might completely  misinterpret what's really going on. (4)

What about the different stages of love?

Mentalfloss published an article last month going into some detail. For example, when you first fall in love, there's a mixture of dopamine and nerve growth factor coursing through your veins. It's effects have been likened to OCD. 

The longer the relationship lasts, the more a mixture of serotonin and oxytocin help balance things out into a less obsessive and more stable and trusting kind of love. 

Since harmony and connection are integral pieces to the extraverted Feeling function, I can't help but wonder if ExFJ and IxFJ personality types show more oxytocin receptors or better connections between the involved brain regions. If you know of any studies, please share them!

If you'd like to explore your romantic connection with your partner, or get clearer on what you're looking for in a partner, contact me to learn how knowing your personality type preferences can improve your relationships. 






Your Brain on International Assignments, or: Wired For Connection – Improving Expat Adjustment


Your Brain on International Assignments, or: Wired For Connection – Improving Expat Adjustment

Scientific evidence is piling up that we’re indeed social animals. No matter what your personality type, your brain will light up when you feel like you don’t fit in, or when you’re being excluded. In international settings, this social pain is often called “culture shock”. Those feelings of exclusion and different-ness activate the same neurons that fire when you break your foot and experience physical pain.

What does this mean when you’re in a new country?

You look different, you talk differently, you probably dress differently, too. When a local looks at you, and wonders whether you can be trusted or not, their brain function will change accordingly. The same is true for you. If you like and want to collaborate with someone, your brain will release oxytocin, aka “the love hormone”. If you don’t like someone and see them as a competitor, you’re less likely to empathize with them.(1)

For international teams, that means work may get sabotaged, because crucial information might not be shared. At any rate, your (and their) brain will be flooded with stress hormones like cortisol, which limits your ability for creative problem-solving and optimistic future-planning.

Love is the Answer

(…) being pushed out of social relationships and into isolation has health ramifications. In fact, there was a book done by health advocate Dr. Dean Ornish, called Love and Survival. There has been study after study done on the positive impact of loving relationships. What he had said at the time in that book was that if we had a drug that did for our health what love does, it would far outsell anything that has ever been made. The efficacy is that potent. But we downplay the importance of love and connection in a culture based on the success of “the rugged individual.” People in our culture need to understand that healthy connection can reduce pain on all levels. (2)

No, you don’t have to start romantic relationships with all the locals. But you should try and find things you have in common with your new colleagues and neighbors.

You should try and understand their culture and learn that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Teach them about your culture without trying to impose it.

Your brain can learn; the more you expose it to the new culture, the more it will get used to it by rewiring existing connections and creating brain-maps (representations of the new terrain) for easy access.

You can teach your brain to recognize strange-looking faces, street signs, or produce labels as something you can handle.

Know someone who could use some help?

If you’re finding yourself a little more depressed than usual, you might be experiencing culture shock.

If the partner you relocated with isn’t sleeping well and has a shorter fuse than usual, they might be experiencing culture shock.

If your team isn’t working effectively together, they might be experiencing uncertainty of how to deal with the different cultures within in the team.

The neural link between social and physical pain also ensures that staying socially connected will be a lifelong need, like food and warmth. Given the fact that our brains treat social and physical pain similarly, should we as a society treat social pain differently than we do? We don’t expect someone with a broken leg to “just get over it.” And yet when it comes to the pain of social loss, this is a common response. (3)

You can snap out of social pain or culture shock about as easily as you can mend your broken foot by willing it stop hurting. Healing takes time, and support can help. Contact me to see if working together might help you to come up with strategies of how to re-wire your brain faster.  


[1] Rock, David, SCARF – a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others


[3] Lieberman, Matthew D, Social – Why our Brains are Wired to Connect

Image by pshutterbug, flickr, Creative Commons License



4 Tips to Increase Insights for Problem-Solving

Pic Credit: Typography by Jeff Jarvis on

Pic Credit: Typography by Jeff Jarvis on

How do you solve problems?  

People with different Type preferences may use different means:

  • Do you use logical analysis?  (e.g. introverted Thinking)
  • Discuss it with your friends / colleagues?  (e.g. extraverted Feeling)
  • Go to past experiences?  (e.g. introverted Sensing)
  • Brainstorm multiple alternatives? (e.g. extraverted Intuiting)

But what if your usual way of problem-solving doesn't work? After all, as has been attributed to Einstein: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."  

From David Rock's "Your Brain At Work"

However, with the amount of change today in how business is done, "noncreative" people increasingly run into brand-new problems, problems with no procedures to follow, no obvious answers, and where solutions from similar situations don't work. For example, what's the rule for reducing the production cost of a product you don't understand, one that is manufactured in China, serviced from India, delivered into Europe, and managed by people who have never met? What's needed here is not a logical solution, but one that recombines knowledge (the maps in your brain) in a whole new way. And that's called an insight.

For example, and if you read on the answer will be revealed to you, take a simple word puzzle: What does H I J K L M N O stand for?

Take a moment to figure it out. 

How are you trying to solve this puzzle?

  • Is your brain going straight to possible acronyms?
  • Trying to find explanations you've heard before?
  • Are you googling it (which is another way of asking your friends)? 

Either way - it's hard to break existing thought patterns, isn't it. To allow for more insights to happen, we have to go into our right brain hemisphere, and that has more chances of coming online when we stop or more analytical prefrontal cortex of butting in.

Here are some tips: 

1. Be in a good mood

Happy subjects in Jung-Beeman's research solved more puzzles using insight than unhappy people using logic.  If you're not in a good mood, try smiling or allow yourself a 3-minute video of whatever you find humorous. 

2. Lighten up

Focusing on the details and sinking your teeth deeper into the intricacies of the problem won't help you solve it, on the contrary. Better: think "big picture", or 10,000 foot overview. If you go into the details, you're less able to tap into the holistic goodness of the right anterior temporal lobe that helps pull different ideas together. This don't-sweat-the-small-stuff approach also helps with

3. Avoid distractions

Jung-Beeman's research also showed that your brain sends a signal right before the insight reaches your consciousness. Subjects closed their eyes as if to shut out any distracting input to help let the insight reach them.  

4. Practice mindfulness

From David Rock's Your Brain At Work: 

Here's what Beeman found. People who have more insights don't have better vision, they are not more determined to find a solution, they don't focus harder on the problem, and they are not necessarily geniuses. The "insight machines," those whom Beeman can pick based on brain scans before an experiment, are those who have more awareness of their internal experience. They can observe their own thinking, and thus can change how they think. These people have better cognitive control and can access a quieter mind on demand. 

In other words, if you needed yet another reason why meditation and taking mental breaks from beeping cell phones is good for you, a reason that goes beyond health and wellness that might actually benefit your job - this is it. 

And you know what else is super healthy for you and you've heard it a thousand times? Drinking water. Not sugar-water or poppy sodas - water. Incidentally, that's what the letter in the alphabet from H t(w)o O stand for. Let's pour ourselves a glass and toast to that. 


Split-Brain - Fascinating Fact


Split-Brain - Fascinating Fact

As I'm preparing a presentation on the Neuroscience of Personality, I'm reminded how wonderfully complex and truly amazing our 3 lbs of neuronal tissue are.  

You probably know that the corpus callosum is the information highway between the left and right hemisphere. But did you also know that when it's severed (e.g. to prevent severe epileptic seizures) your left hand may develop a life of its own?

Michael Gazzaniga showed these patients split-screen images, for example a key on the left and a ring on the right. Participants can only name what their left hemisphere sees (a ring), because that’s the thing they can consciously name.

But then their left hands started getting agitated or grabbing nurses, and eventually they figured out that the right hemisphere was trying to say something. When the items were laid out, the left hand would grab the key. When given pen and paper, the left hand would draw it.

Don't believe me? 

See for yourself: 

Image by Birger Hoppe, Flickr, Creative Commons License.