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Two young siblings from Southern California were diagnosed with brain cancer just two weeks apart from each other, and now face a long road of aggressive treatment to keep the tumors at bay.

At the end of May, 6-year-old Kalea Avery experienced worsening headaches that prompted her parents to take her to a neurologist just after the Memorial Day weekendAfter performing an MRI, doctors found a tumor —  measuring 3.5 centimeters in diameter — forming near the stem of the young girl’s brain, reports the Daily Breeze, and Kalea soon underwent a four-hour surgery to remove the mass on June 11.

“We go from having a healthy baby girl who’s a skateboarder and a soccer player, who’s just loving life, to having a tumor removed from her brain,” Kalea’s father, Duncan Avery, told the Los Angeles Times.

Doctors soon discovered the mass was cancerous and diagnosed Kalea with medulloblastoma, a fast-growing cancer that forms at the base of the skull which can spread to the spinal cord and other parts of the body. Because medulloblastoma tumors grow in the area of the brain that controls complex motor and cognitive functions, patients typically display trouble with movement and balance.

RELATED VIDEO: Grieving Dad Shares Photo of Son, 6, Comforting 4-Year-Old Sister Before Her Death

The family was able to quickly get started on Kalea’s treatment, but their nightmare was far from over. Two weeks after Kalea’s diagnosis, Duncan and his wife, Nohea, noticed that 4-year-old Noah had begun taking longer-than-usual naps. They initially figured their son was depressed about his sister’s situation until he complained of headaches in the area between his eyebrows — the same spot his sister pointed to just weeks earlier. Then, the family told the TimesNoah began to lean as he walked.

Scans on June 21 revealed that Noah had a mass in the same spot as his sister, and doctors removed the tumor four days later. While tests are pending, they believe the tumor is medulloblastoma as well.

“We broke down in tears,” Duncan, a 36-year-old coach at Redondo Beach Union High School, told the Times. “How could two kids in 14 days have the exact same tumor? How does that happen?”

For the parents, the reality that both of their children had such a serious form of cancer, at the same time nonetheless, was devastating.

“My heart literally felt like it was broke apart,” Nohea, a nurse practitioner, told CBS Los Angeles. “It was being pulled out of my chest.”

RELATEDMan With Terminal Cancer Dies Just Days After Watching Daughter’s Wedding From His Hospital Bed

A GoFundMe page to help the family with their medical expenses has raised more than $ 117,000 of its $ 150,000 goal in just four days thanks to more than 1,300 donors.

Noah and Kalea will soon start radiation and possibly chemotherapy. Fortunately, with aggressive treatment, most children can fight off medulloblastoma long enough to the point where it won’t return, according to UCSF. Both siblings will also enter physical, occupational and speech therapy to help in their recovery.

“I don’t know how I’m going to get through this, but you do. You find a way,” Nohea told KTLA. “You look at your children, you hold them and you just find a way.”


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Ng, who cofounded Brain Dead with Ed Davis in 2014, is gregarious, inclusive and good-humored, and his personality is on full display for “Social Fabric,” a 12-episode Red Bull TV series that’s streaming online now. Ng hosts the series.
“Streetwear is so pretentious and so cool guy, and I would say I am less fronting guy and more goofy guy,” Ng said. “I think at the end of the day the brand is very different from the show, but for me it doesn’t matter. I say the brand is its own kid. I’m not the brand.”
On the series, Ng travels around the world to learn about the culture behind plaid, sneakers, the leather jacket, the suit and cowboy boots.
“We were really interested in the cultural history of style and not from a fashion perspective but more from the side of ‘Where does it come from? Why do people wear what they wear and how does that communicate to different cultures?’” Ng said. “How does one item transcend different people and connect with different people.”
Brain Dead is still relatively new, but Ng and Davis have built a community around the line, which is informed by

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Comedian Jim Gaffigan has revealed that his wife and collaborator Jeannie recently underwent surgery to have a “life-threatening” brain tumor removed.

Gaffigan made the announcement Monday over Facebook, writing that his wife was recovering at home.

The Gaffigans have been married since 2003 and have five children. The two created “The Jim Gaffigan Show” on TV Land, and Jeannie has also served as a co-writer and producer on her husband’s comedy specials.

Jeannie chimed in on her recovery with an Instagram post.

I'm coming back! Thanks for your prayers. I'm alive!

A post shared by @jeanniegaffigan on

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The Obese Brain

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Findings from studies conducted in recent years suggest a new and promising perspective based around one central idea: what if the key to obesity is not to be found in the stomach but in the brain? How does the brain control the intake of energy? Why do we sometimes eat without needing to? Can we become addicted to foods? What impact does food marketing have on us? And can we change bad habits and lose weight? “A book that, without doubt, I would have liked to have written myself”. Juan Revenga, dietitian and biologist. “Well written and entertaining. an inventive and interesting approach”. Fernando Mosquera, psychiatrist and medical director. About the author: Luis Jiménez, BSc in Chemical Sciences. Author of books in Spanish on nutrition and health: “Lo que dice la ciencia para adelagzar” and “Lo que dice la ciencia sobre dietas, alimentación y salud”. Both books have been bestsellers in Spanish bookstores and in Amazon Spain

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4 Ways To Make Space In Your Brain To Create

This article first appeared on QuietRev.com


This is the second article in Quiet Revolution’s two-part series on seeking creativity. Check out last week’s piece to learn about the ways you can hack your environment to help you channel your creativity more effectively.

We’d enjoy nothing new without creativity. For extroverts, new ideas can come from external stimulation: collaborating with cross-disciplinary teams within the workplace, jamming with artistic friends, or attending group classes or meetups. Introverts, though, usually hit their creative peak in lower-stimulation environments.

In today’s over-stimulated world, this means introverts often have to work to carve out time for themselves. Sure, many on the quieter end of the spectrum also gain inspiration from the outside world, but then they need time for the ideas they’ve collected to incubate.

Whether you have 20 minutes a day or an entire weekend, use the four strategies below to make space in your brain so you can be open to anything.

1. Julia Cameron’s morning pages

In her internationally bestselling book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron shares her number one tool for creativity—an activity she calls morning pages.

They “are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness.

‘Oh god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah…’”

The important thing is to do them every day. By writing out everything that’s on your mind, everything that you’re worried about or distracted by, you’re actually performing an act of creative recovery. Morning pages allow you to get out of your own way, release the pressures and negativity of daily demands out of your brain, and move past your internal critic, or “Censor” as Cameron names it.

Creative thinkers, including filmmaker Brian Koppelman, journalist Maria Shriver, illustrator Francesca Chessa, and life-hacker Tim Ferriss, have all used morning pages with great success.

Try this theory in your life: Write by hand three pages every morning for eight weeks. See if they help you feed the artist within you.

2. Stephen Kosslyn’s psychology of ideas

What color is the Mona Lisa’s hair? Is your front doorknob on the right side or the left? To answer these questions, you most likely used visual mental imagery, also known as “seeing in the mind’s eye.”

Harvard professor Stephen Kosslyn has studied the psychology of the ways the brain uses mental imagery to generate ideas. Once we understand how the brain generates imagery, it’s easier to act upon this imagery and turn it into new ideas.

Essentially, in this process, the brain receives visual imagery straight from your memory, from things you’ve previously seen that stuck in your brain. When you answered the question above about the doorknob, your brain probably created a mental image of your door and then zoomed in on the door knob area.

Visual imagery is incredibly powerful, Kosslyn says, because “we can transform at will objects in visual mental images, for example by imagining them rotating, shrinking, or growing.” Kosslyn believes that we can use this visual imagery to come up with new ideas—but only if we’re paying attention.

According to Kosslyn, the brain uses four steps to transform mental imagery into new ideas:

a. Generate the image. Images usually come when we’re open to them but slightly distracted (i.e., in the shower). These images can be thought of as half-formed ideas.

b. Retain the image. If you get out of the shower and don’t write the image down, you may forget it as soon as you start making breakfast for your kids.

c. Inspect the image. Look at it from different angles.

d. Transform the image. Modify it to fit your own creative goals. By transforming it into something useful for your own life, you’ve turned it into a fully-formed idea.

At which step do you falter??

For introverts, ideas tend to come from reading, observing the world, spending time in nature, traveling, or taking in the creative arts (movies, art exhibits, concerts). But often, we don’t leave enough white space in our lives to follow up on creative inspiration.

If you leave the time, your first bit of inspiration will lead you to your next bit of inspiration, which can lead to transforming ideas. Twyla Tharp, successful dance choreographer, calls this “scratching.” In her book The Creative Habit, she writes,

“You know how you scratch away at a lottery ticket to see if you’ve won? That’s what I’m doing when I begin a dance piece. I’m digging through everything to find something… Scratching can look like borrowing or appropriating, but it’s an essential part of creativity. It’s primal and very private.”

Try this theory in your life: Schedule time to read a new piece of fiction or watch a movie, and also schedule some unstructured idea-generation time after you’re done to play mentally with the visual images you created from your viewing or reading. Or, if you already have many ideas, schedule time to follow up on the steps three and four: inspecting and transforming those ideas.

3. Ray Bradbury’s diet for your subconscious

In the world of creativity, people often talk about waiting for their muse to appear. Novelist Ray Bradbury wrote in his book Zen in The Art of Writing that your muse is your entire complete being. In other words, your muse is simply yourself.

“When people ask me where I get my ideas, I laugh. How strange—we’re so busy looking out, to find ways and means, we forget to look in.” – Ray Bradbury

Bradbury suggests we curate our own inspiration. “If we are going to diet for our subconscious, how prepare the menu?”

He suggests daily consumption of poetry first, followed by essays, and then short stories and novels. He recommends reading “those who do not think as you think.” Bradbury fed his muse by continually searching for excellence and differences in creativity in others’ work.

Try this theory in your life: Buy a book of poetry and a selection of essays (perhaps some from a previous decade). Read a few every day to help your mind foster a state of creativity.

4. Anne Lamott’s bird-by-bird mantra

The first steps of creativity are often the hardest. Once we have ideas, it’s challenging to act on them. We’re afraid of failure, so we get locked in inertia. In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, best-selling writer Anne Lamott shares a story from her childhood about how her father helped her brother overcome his fear of the first step.

Lamott’s brother was working on a school report about birds, but he procrastinated too long and didn’t start until the night before the due date.

“He was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

Try this theory in your life: When you’re working on a creative project, ask yourself: what is the quickest way I can get started? How can I start making a bit of progress towards my larger goal? What’s the first step I can get done right now?

Author Elizabeth Gilbert gave a TED talk in 2009 called “Your Elusive Creative Genius” about searching for a way to distance herself from her work in order to protect her creative spirit. Her search led her back to ancient Greece and ancient Rome. She found that

“people did not happen to believe that creativity came from human beings back then. People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks . . . called these divine attendant spirits of creativity ‘daemons.’ Socrates, famously, believed that he had a daemon who spoke wisdom to him from afar.”

Gilbert realized she had found a psychological construct to protect her from the results of her work. “If your work was brilliant, you couldn’t take all the credit for it, everybody knew that you had this disembodied genius who had helped you. If your work bombed, not entirely your fault, you know? Everyone knew your genius was kind of lame.”

Although Gilbert believes her creative effort comes from her hard work, she said, “That’s not at all what my creative process is. I’m a mule, and the way that I have to work is I have to get up at the same time every day, and sweat and labor and barrel through it really awkwardly. But even I, in my mulishness, even I have brushed up against that thing [a muse], at times. And I would imagine that a lot of you have too. You know, even I have had work or ideas come through me from a source that I honestly cannot identify.”

What is Gilbert’s advice to herself?

“Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be.”

In other words, find a routine for your creativity, and stick with it.

2015-02-04-Joni_Blecher_150x150.jpg
This article originally appeared on QuietRev.com.

You can find more insights from Quiet Revolution on work, life, and parenting as an introvert at QuietRev.com.

Follow Quiet Revolution on Facebook and Twitter.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Disney, Brain Science and Understanding Emotional Intelligence

I never thought seeing a kid’s movie would become the inspiration for a new blog on emotional intelligence. Seeing Inside Out, the new movie from Disney/Pixar got me thinking about how we think.

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photo courtesy of Disney/Pixar

Almost the entire animated movie takes place inside the brain of a young girl named Riley. We watch her grow up from a small baby to age eleven through the eyes of five characters named Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust who are situated INSIDE her brain, hence the title Inside Out. (Interestingly, and with no explanation, the characters Anger and Fear are male, while Joy, Sadness and Disgust are female.) Through the first act of the movie, Joy is running the show. But something happens when Riley turns eleven that lets the other characters take over the controls of her life for a while. It’s kind of like when one of the lesser characters on Star Trek takes over the controls of the Starship Enterprise and everything seems to just run amuck.

This film combines elements of brain science, emotional intelligence and science fiction. It focuses on the work of former UC Berkeley Professor, Paul Ekman who spent almost his entire career studying facial expressions. Ekman was a pioneer in studying the emotional life of the brain. Long before University of Wisconsin researcher Richard Davidson came along and started using an MRI machine to map emotional regions of the brain, Ekman was studying these emotions on people’s faces.

In Ekman’s day there were no instruments to peer inside the brain, so, in order to study emotions, he had to work with facial expressions. Just like psychologists Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck who co-created Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and even BF Skinner who raised the study of Behaviorism to new heights, this was the era where the mind was literally considered a black box. You could look at what went IN the black box and you could observe what came OUT (like Pavlov’s Dog: ringing a bell would be an input and seeing him salivate would be an output) but you could never presume to KNOW what actually went on INSIDE the black box.

By studying facial expressions, Ekman got as close as anyone ever could to scientifically studying the emotional life of the brain in that era. A good video that describes his work can be found on YouTube. He went around the world, as far as Papua New Guinea, to see if there were emotions on people’s faces that the whole world recognized. He cataloged six universal emotions including one that Disney chose not feature inside Riley’s brain: surprise. According to Roger Dooley’s article in Forbes, it was eliminated because the emotion was too close to fear.

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In his research, Ekman determined that we all have the capability to recognize emotions in a fleeting glance. The funny thing is, you might not even consciously KNOW when you see fleeting emotions which he called micro-expressions, but your unconscious mind reads them and makes adjustments in your behavior, sometimes without you even realizing it. I’ve noticed this happens, for example, when I start to mention something political with someone I don’t know that well. Now that I know about micro-expressions, I often read something on the other person’s face – quite quickly – that basically tells to me “don’t go there,” and I’ll immediately change the subject. Ekman has even used these micro-expressions as a sort of a lie detector test. The Transportation Security Administration is testing Ekman’s theories to assist in screening airline passengers thought to be suspicious, according to this article in Fast Company.

I first learned about Paul Ekman and micro-expressions when I did a series of films on emotional intelligence with Dan Goleman. During the production of the film, we videotaped the six emotions on the faces of a variety of actors. Good actors, by the way, are the only ones who can fool the lie-detectors because they create the emotions inside themselves, first, and the face simply reveals – on the outside – what’s going on inside their bodies! You can preview the whole video at this link, and you’ll observe that even in an extreme close up of JUST the actor’s eyes, you can still read their emotions perfectly in less than half a second.

In an interview with Goleman on a CD entitled Knowing Our Emotions Improving Our World, Ekman talks about spending several days with the Dalai Lama, and studying his emotions through his facial expressions. “I never met a person as authentic as the Dalai Lama. The person you see on the outside is the exact same person you get to know on the inside.” He referred to this phenomenon as “transparency”. Ekman also says, “I believe I can tell when I meet a person who has a long-term meditation practice simply by their demeanor.” This remark leads to a whole different discussion about how meditation changes the brain which we will cover in an upcoming blog.

I attended the American Journal of Health Promotion conference in the early spring and remember meeting a young woman there who just started working in the wellness field. I was telling her about Ekman, who she had never heard of. I confidently said, “Well, now that I’ve told you about him, you’ll probably hear his name mentioned several times in the next few days”. In the very next keynote presentation, the speaker was Dr. Barbara Frederickson, the University of North Carolina researcher who studies happiness and positivity. She’s the one who famously says we need three positives for every one negative in order to be happy. In her keynote she mentioned how much her work was influenced by Ekman’s.

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photo courtesy of Disney/Pixar

The next day I was listening to the radio and Disney announced that one of the advisors on its new, upcoming PIXAR film, was none other than Paul Ekman. I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to see the film. Now that I’ve finally seen it, I must say, there were many, many clever concepts in INSIDE OUT, like the “train of thought” which is actually a fantasy train with odd station stops, running continuously (while she is awake) inside Riley’s mind. There was the dangerous area in her prefrontal cortex where abstract thought takes place, where Joy and Sadness start to morph into Picasso-inspired looking characters and almost disappear into lines and shapes.

Even the way short term memory is consolidated into long term memory when Riley sleeps is quite accurate and cleverly done. Another brilliant idea is the way the movie depicts the brain science involved in creating Riley’s dreams. Every night, a Hollywood Studio comes to life inside her brain when she starts to dream. We literally get a back stage look at what’s involved in the “production” of dreams. Hollywood studios are often called: “dream factories” and in this movie it actually happens.

There’s a quirky pink elephant and a couple of rambunctious janitors who work and/or wander through the long term memory vaults of Riley’s brain. The elephant is one of Riley’s early childhood imaginary friends who is fading fast as she heads towards puberty. The two janitors vacuum up old outdated memories (like the Pink elephant) from the memory bank and occasionally play tricks on Riley, like repeating an old song from a bubble gum commercial that she can’t get out of her head.

The best moments of the film come when we see that everyone has these same five emotional characters running their brains. How they act differently in every person’s brain (like her parents) and exactly which character seems to be running the show, is fun to watch and interesting to see. I can’t say that I liked this film as much as the early Pixar films like Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, and more recently, UP, but from a brain science and an emotional intelligence perspective, it was a tour de force, particularly at the end when we see the important role that SADNESS plays in creating the WHOLE person that we truly are.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.



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Neuroscience Reveals That Long-Term Meditation May Increase Brain Function

If you’re looking for yet another reason to dedicate yourself to a consistent meditation practice, consider the big neurological benefits it may offer you down the road.

Over the years, research has suggested that moments of mindfulness can help improve concentration, reduce stress and boost happiness, which benefits the mind, body and spirit. Wendy Suzuki, neuroscientist and author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life, joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani to talk about how mediation can also increase brain function.

“We know from the studies of Tibetan monks that there are profound effects of long-term meditation, and they found those profound effects on the general patterns of electrical activity that you can measure from the scalp,” said Suzuki. “This is called electroencephalography. What happens in people that are long, long-term meditators is that their patterns of electrical activity start to have particular frequencies of activity, called gamma waves. We associate them very vaguely with higher cognitive function, but what’s clear is that when you do a lot of meditation, you move your brain into that state.”

Watch the full conversation in the HuffPost Live video above to hear more about how meditation affects the brain.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Your Miracle Brain : Maximize Your Brainpower, Boost Your Memory, Lift Your Mood, Improve Your IQ and Creativity, Prevent and Reverse Menta

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