Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning
Dr. Momo Vuyisich on “Improving the Health of Your Microbiome, Preventing and Reversing Chronic Disease.”

Dr. Momo Vuyisich on “Improving the Health of Your Microbiome, Preventing and Reversing Chronic Disease.”

October 31, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #93 with Dr. Momo Vuyisich, the co-founder and chief science officer of Viome[i], a healthcare disruptor that’s using IA to analyze your gut microbiome to make personalized nutritional recommendations.

You can watch the interview on YouTube here. 

I’m excited to introduce you to Momo Vuyisich, the chief science officer at Viome, who leads their efforts in product development and clinical research. Momo knows all too well of the importance of the gut/brain connection and how we can take control of our own life and health by optimizing our gut microbiome with personalized nutritional recommendations using Viome testing.  

Before co-founding Viome in 2016, Momo spent 12 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory[ii], where he was the leader of the Applied Genomics team. His research focused on applying modern genomics to the areas of gut microbiomes, host-pathogen and microbial inter-species interactions, pathogen detection, cancer biology, toxicology, infectious diseases, and antibiotic resistance.

In this episode, you will learn  

  • How Momo, the founder of reversed his rheumatoid arthritis with a change in diet.
  • Forward thinking strategies for taking your health into your own hands.
  • What your poop can tell you about your health.
  • What exactly is microbiome testing and how it works.
  • A vision of the future where chronic disease is preventable and diet is personalized.

“Today we have 100% of the science and technology needed to cure every chronic disease and every cancer.” Momo Vuyisich

“The only way to predict the future is to invent it.”  Momo Vuyisich

Welcome Momo, thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to be here today.


Momo, I mentioned to you that I recently did an Dr

Q1: Can you give us your background, and what brought you to where you are today, inspiring your work with Viome, whose on a mission to help the world understand what we uniquely need to be healthy, and ultimately prevent and reverse chronic disease like Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Parkinson’s, MS and Obesity?

Q2: I don’t want to repeat the incredible information you gave Luke DePron on his podcast, so I am posting the links to his episode in the show notes.[iii] For those of us like me who were beginners to understanding what the microbiome is, and the gut/brain connection, you did offer an incredible resource for everyone to check out. You suggested to look up Dr. Robynne Chutkan and her book[iv], The Microbiome Solution, and she has a new book out now called Gut Bliss.  She also did a great intro to understanding the microbiome for CBS Morning News that you can see on her website.[v] Can you give a quick overview on why it’s so important for us to understand our gut microbiome, the gut/brain connection and why true health begins in the gut?

Q3: Before I heard Luke’s podcast with you, I knew that we need to protect our gut microbiome, and that taking a probiotic can help balance our gut and keep us healthy. I also had heard about prebiotics, or foods that were good for gut health, and do try to stick to low glycemic foods. After listening to some of your podcasts, I know there are medicines  (like antibiotics, acid reflux medicine, NSAIDS and birth control pills) that can damage our microbiome and foods that can either help or hurt us, and perhaps that the foods I am choosing from the glycemic index might be spiking my blood sugar?  Can you explain why probiotics are limiting and why different foods can be beneficial to my microbiome, but not yours?

Q4: How are you helping people to understand what they uniquely need to be healthy and allow them to take back control of their health? What exactly do you do at Viome?

Q5: What are you focused on now at Viome, what is your 10-year vision, and what do you need to get there?

Thank you very much for your time today, Momo.

For people who want to learn more about Viome, they can go to and learn more about the process of taking the simple at-home test, learning their scores, and the supplements and suggestions for foods they should either avoid, minimize, enjoy and those that are superfoods for them.

Email if you would like a FREE mold test on your home or workplace.

Thanks so much!


The Links Between the Gut Microbiome, Aging, Modern Lifestyle and Alzheimer’s Disease Edited by Ashley E Franks March 18, 2020

Neuroscience Meets SEL Episode #82 with Doug Sutton “How a Brain Scan Changed My Life.”

What is the Difference Between a Prebiotic and a Probiotic

Gut Intelligence Test

Health Intelligence Test

Monthly Supplements

See if you qualify for an active study at Viome



[ii] How MomWhat W

[iii] Gut/Microbiome Health with Momo Viyisich on Luke De Pron’s Live Great Lifestyle Podcast


[v] Dr. Robynne Chutkan

Author and Neuroscience Educator Sarah Peyton on “Brain Network Theory, Default Mode Network, Anxiety and Emotion Regulation.”

Author and Neuroscience Educator Sarah Peyton on “Brain Network Theory, Default Mode Network, Anxiety and Emotion Regulation.”

October 24, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #92 with neuroscience educator, author and trainer, Sarah Peyton[i].

You can watch the interview on YouTube here. 

My name is Andrea Samadi,  and if you are new here, I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field, with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, whether you are an educator, or in the corporate space, to take your results to the next level. If we want to improve our social, emotional and cognitive abilities, it all starts with an understanding of our brain. 

I’m so grateful to have been introduced to Sarah Peyton, a neuroscience educator, and author of the book, Your Resonant Self: Guided Meditations and Exercises to Engage Your Brain’s Capacity for Healing[ii].  I took one look at Sarah’s work and website, and immediately had 100 questions for her. She also does have a workbook coming out to accompany this book, this summer. I will put the links in the show notes to learn more.[iii]

Welcome Sarah, thank you so much for your time today, to share your knowledge and resources with us.

Q1: Sarah, Brain Network Theory is now being talked about all over the place, listeners of this podcast, who follow the most current neuroscience research, will have heard about it. There are many books being written on this NEW Brain Network Theory (I’ve mentioned Dr. Srini Pillay and his book about the power of the unfocused mind in past episodes). I’ve been working closely with Mark Waldman (from EPISODE 30)[iv] this past year and know that applying Brain Network Theory to our life can be powerful.

Just as a reminder of what Brain Network Theory is all about, if you were to go to  and search for the most recent studies on the brain, instead of looking at different parts of the brain, like we used to do, we now know and study different networks in the brain to gain understanding, and we can measure and see the activity in each of these brain networks. This is a fascinating discovery that comes to life with these images that we’ve all seen with different regions of our brain lighting up.

Sarah, can you go over some of the brain function networks you cover in the beginning of your book and how an understanding of these networks can help us with our understanding of the world, and our perhaps ways we can improve our results? (seeing the world, decision-making, discerning importance, dorsal attention, listening, sensing and moving)?

Q2: How does trauma show up in the brain?

Q3:  I did cover the Default Mode Network in EPISODE #48[iv] and mention the fact that this Default Mode Network involves those thought processes that can include worry, doubts and fears like “don’t try that, it didn’t work out last time” and so on. Swiss Psychologist Piaget called this “inner speech” that can be positive or negative, depending on what you are thinking.  Chapter 1 of your book begins with “How We Talk to Ourselves: The Default Mode Network” that talks about our beliefs, our self-talk and strategies to overcome some of these limiting beliefs. How would you suggest we first of all identify, and then eliminate limiting beliefs from our brain to improve our results?

Q4: The Default Mode Network has also been linked to the Imagination. Marty Seligman, the founder of positive psychology calls the DMN the Imagination Network and my mentor, Mark Waldman created a diagram which he refers to as a map to simplify the 5 major brain networks, and he intentionally put the DMN or Imagination as the largest area, possibly because it develops so early in life and plays such an important role in child and brain development. How would you explain the Default Mode Network and why is it so important for us to understand this network in our brain with our early years of development in mind?

Q5: On EPISODE #53[v], we dive deep into self-regulation, and why it’s so important. This is such an important topic and one I’m always looking for new ideas with, especially these days, as the event in the world keep most of us on our toes. How do you suggest we stay emotionally regulated?

Q6: With anxiety being at an all-time high for many of our students these days, as well as everyone else, with the looming effects of the pandemic this year, what are your best tips for understanding anxiety and the brain, and what are you telling those you are working with, on how to reduce anxiety?

Q7: Sarah, I could keep asking you another 10 questions but do know that our time is limited. In closing, I wonder what the most important concept is, that you think everyone should know, whether we are educators in the workplace, or parents, with children we are raising, or if we are just trying to find our place in the world and make an impact. How can we best use our brain, and guide others to do the same?

Thank you so much for your time today, Sarah. For those who want to learn more about you, they can go to and sign up for your newsletter and free meditations to help improve brain health and resiliency.

They can follow you on Twitter @empathybrain

@yourresonantself on IG

Thanks Sarah!


Dr. Srini Pillay Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: The Power of the Unfocused Mind (May 2017)

Know Your Brain: The Default Mode Network June 16, 2015 by

A Brief Introduction to the Default Mode Network YouTube Published May, 2011

Ruth Lanius Neuroscientist and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Western, Ontario, Canada

Joseph LeDoux, author of The Emotional Brain, on Trauma, Fear and Memory Consolidation YouTube Published Dec. 2012 “Can Memories be Erased”


Avoiding the Sickening Effects of Stress (July 2016)

Matthew Lieberman, Social: Why our brains are wired to connect (July 2015)

Beatrice Beebe

Jaak Panksepp and his discovery on human emotions


[i] Sarah Peyton’s Website

[ii] Your Resonant Self by Sarah Peyton

[iii] Your Resonant Self Workbook by Sarah Peyton

[iv] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #48 “Brain Network Theory”

[v] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #53 on “Self-Regulation and Your Brain”

Behavior Experts Drs. Jessica and John Hannigan on “SEL From a Distance: Tools and Processes from Anytime, Anywhere.”

Behavior Experts Drs. Jessica and John Hannigan on “SEL From a Distance: Tools and Processes from Anytime, Anywhere.”

October 18, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #91, with Jessica and John Hannigan, the authors of the brand-new book, SEL From a Distance: Tools and Processes for Anytime, Anywhere. [i] This is a timely and importance topic, with the pandemic this year, and subsequent switch to distance learning combined with recent instances of racial injustice has put a spotlight on the cracks in the practice of social and emotional learning (SEL). I launched this podcast in June of 2019 when I saw the need to highlight leaders in the field of SEL, but now, more than ever before, schools are shifting their focus and prioritizing SEL competencies—around the nation and the world. 


Watch this interview on YouTube here. 


My name is Andrea Samadi,  and if you are new here, I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field, with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, whether you are an educator, or in the corporate space, to take your results to the next level. If we want to improve our social, emotional and cognitive abilities, it all starts with an understanding of our brain. 


Today I am thrilled to have behavior experts Jessica and John Hannigan, who have drawn together a collection of tools and processes for social and emotional learning that can be applied in any learning environment with their NEW book, SEL from a Distance.


Dr. Jessica Hannigan is an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership Department at California State University, Fresno. She works with schools and districts across the nation on designing and implementing effective behavior systems. Her expertise includes response-to-intervention (RTI) behavior, multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS), positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS), social and emotional learning (SEL), and more.


John E. Hannigan, EdD , is an executive leadership coach for Fresno County Superintendent of Schools in California. He has served in education for over 15 years as a principal, assistant principal, instructional coach, and teacher. Under his leadership, his school has received numerous awards and recognitions, including California State Distinguished School, Gold Ribbon School, Title I Academic School, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (Platinum Level). 


Hannigan, Jessica,Hannigan, John E. (2106-02-06T23:28:15). SEL From a Distance (Kindle Locations 410-414). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.


In SEL from a Distance, you’ll learn: 

  • The five SEL competencies and dozens of easy to use processes for building skills in each.
  • How to identify challenging behaviors and prioritize, define mastery, and teach the SEL skills necessary to address them.
  • Tips for identifying, teaching, modeling, and reinforcing SEL skills in a virtual setting.
  • Strategies for applying SEL to the needs of your unique learning environment.

Welcome Jessica and John, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, and sharing this new resource for those listening around the world. 

For this interview, I did want to read what others are saying about this new book, with a question attached to each testimonial.  I really do think that everyone listening should go to the link below, and grab a copy of this book, whether you are an educator, or someone looking for ideas to implement social and emotional learning competencies with your children, this book is a must read.

Just to give you both some background, since we are just meeting, my interest in social and emotional learning goes back over 20 years ago, when I was a frustrated educator, with no resources in the area of behavior management. When I see a book like yours, I really do want the world to know about it.  Here’s what other leaders in the field of education are saying about your book:


“People are seeing the importance of SEL, and Jessica Hannigan and John Hannigan have written a timely and responsive book that will help teachers and leaders create opportunities for students to become more independent and successful now, during distance learning, and in the future.” Peter DeWitt, Author/Blogger/Consultant 


Q1: I love how you begin this book by addressing what is SEL, and why is it so important. This is exactly how I started this podcast, when I saw a need to showcase leaders in SEL in one place. Why is SEL important now, more than ever?

“With the rise in anxiety, depression, and suicide over the last few years, schools have faced the challenge of how to address the social and emotional needs of all students. Now, during the pandemic, the need is more acute, and schools require more assistance. SEL From a Distance offers an easy-to-follow framework to build our students’ skills in the key SEL competencies. The authors have taken a complex topic and created an easy-to-use guide for school teams and leaders. Any school searching for what to do next should pick up this book.” Brian Jaramillo, Executive Director of Education Services Lompoc Unified SD

Q2: I also love the framework that you chose, honoring the work that CASEL[ii] has done with their 5 SEL competencies.  We did interview Karen Niemi, the president of CASEL on EPISODE #62[iii] since their work around SEL has been so robust. When writing the Tools and Processes section, that focuses on each of the 5 competencies, how did you brainstorm the sub-sections within each competency? For example, under self-awareness, you have sub-sections of identifying emotions, self-perception, and strengths, with tools for each sub section. Can you share how you came up with these subsections, that create the powerful framework for this book?

Chapter 7. Self-Awareness Tools and Processes

SEL Competency: Self-Awareness

Identifying Emotions

Tool 1: Daily SEL Check-In

Tool 2: Virtual Mindfulness Minutes


Tool 1: “Virtual Camera Imagery” Exercise

Tool 2: Email/Letter to Self Recognizing


Tool 1: Growth Mindset Exercise

Tool 2: Self-Esteem Lesson

Tool 3: Help-Seeking Prompts

Hannigan, Jessica,Hannigan, John E. (2106-02-06T23:28:15). SEL From a Distance (Kindle Locations 286-296). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.


“Social and emotional skills they are lacking via distance learning, and this book solves that problem. It is structured so that the reader and school teams can implement the techniques and strategies to best meet the needs of their students. The rubrics and activities can be easily implemented into core curriculum content across all grade levels. I highly recommend this book for all school staff, support staff, and district office personnel to truly understand how to implement SEL in a concrete and appropriate way to ensure student success.”

Brooke Warkentin , Director of Special Services Lemoore Union Elementary School District, CA

Q3: I have heard over and over again, “how will SEL be implemented with Distance Learning?” and your book was clearly written with this purpose in mind? How are teachers implementing the rubrics and activities into core curriculum?

“What is great about this book is that it provides a clear process to identify students’ needs followed by effective and practical methods to teach these critical social and emotional skills. The learning and support students receive will help them at school, at home, and within their communities for the rest of their lives. The book does an excellent job of supporting educators in an area where we often struggle and need additional support.” Eduardo Ochoa, Assistant Superintendent Lemoore Union Elementary School District, CA

Q4: I’ve heard that many teachers know that SEL is important, but they don’t have a clear starting point, or plan in place for SEL. They aren’t sure if they should buy a whole program or use the kernel approach of implementing some ideas on a smaller scale. How does this book identify students’ needs and create a clear path for the SEL skills they need whether they are in school, their homes, or in their community?

“My teacher helps us use strategies to relax our brains when we are feeling stressed.” Harmon, 4th Grade, CA 

“My teacher told our class, ‘If you need someone to talk to, I am here for you.’ This was powerful to hear. I have never had a teacher say that to an entire class before.” Ani, 12th Grade, MO

Q5: What are students saying about the activities they are doing? Are there any specific stories you can share with feedback from students?

Q6: Is there anything important, that we have missed?

For those who want to learn more about your book, they can get it right now through Corwin, Press, or from Amazon. What is the best way for people to reach you?


@JohnHannigan75 on Twitter.

Equity in School Discipline FB Group


Peter DeWitt

Casel’s SEL Competencies Framework PDF

Behavior Solutions by Jessica and John Hannigan, Mike Mattos and Austin Buffum

Don’t Suspend Me, Jessica and John Hannigan

Netflix The Social Dilemma

Corwin Press 30% off till the end of the year with CODE SELNOW

[i] SEL From a Distance

[ii]’s 5 CORE SEL Competencies

[iii] Neuroscience Meets SEL EPISODE #62 with Karen Niemi, President of CASEL

Host of the Live Great Lifestyle Podcast, Luke DePron on “Neuroscience, Health, Fitness and Growth.”

Host of the Live Great Lifestyle Podcast, Luke DePron on “Neuroscience, Health, Fitness and Growth.”

October 14, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #90 with Luke DePron, a Men’s Health & Performance Coach[i], and graduate of Exercise Science, Kinesiology. Luke has done everything from personal training with 100s of clients, to working alongside Drs of Chiropractic as a corrective exercise specialist, training Olympic level athletes, to performance work with world champion mixed martial arts fighters.

Watch this episode on YouTube here. 

Currently Luke works as a Men’s Online Health and Performance Coach—learn more at where he helps men step into a lifestyle approach of exercise and nutrition to transform their physique, energy, and confidence. 

He’s also the Host of the Live Great Lifestyle Podcast[ii] where he’s interviewed former Navy Seals, Mixed Martial Arts world champions, New York Times best-selling authors, personal development speakers, Olympic athletes, adventure athletes, Doctors, Nutrition experts, and inspirational leaders carving unique paths in the world to inspire and empower you to level up your health, fitness, mindset, and lifestyle. Exactly the type of person I look for as a speaker on this podcast.

I love that Luke is a believer that stepping out of your comfort zone leads to growth, and he’s always aiming high, routinely practicing Jiu-Jitsu, was a participant on the History Channels show The Selection: a mock special forces selection process led by Navy Seals, was a contributing writer for Huffington post, hosted the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival, has performed as an actor in local San Diego films, and even worked as a runway model once.

Welcome Luke, what a diverse background.  I’m so grateful for our connection on Linkedin, and really do appreciate you referring our last interview with Dr. Erik Won that I just did yesterday.

  1. I know that you are the host ofThe Live Great Lifestyle podcast with a mission to inspire and empower men to live their life to its greatest potential.  Can you give an overview of your past, (that’s full of achievement as much as I know you don’t like to boast about it) and how your past brought you to where you are now?
  2. I loved your interview with Dr. Erik Won and the Wave Neuroscience team. I learned so much from your interview. I did stop your podcast often to take notes, as learning Dr. Won’s method of measuring the brain is much different than my experience with a SPECT scan. What made you see the importance of understanding neuroscience as it relates to health/wellness?
  3. Diving Deeper- when studying and learning about the brain, there is a learning curve. I remember the first time my good friend, Mark Waldman, a neuroscience researcher sat down with me on Skype in my first attempts at learning “how the brain works” and I can honestly say, I had no idea what he was talking about. I had never studied the brain. I might as well have been learning Spanish. When I listened to your interview with Dr. Won, you had a solid understanding of how his EEG brain mapping technology worked with the rhythm of the brain. You mentioned to me later that you actually went into their offices and had your brain scanned at Wave Neuro. Can you explain what you learned from Dr. Won’s EEG and how did you learn enough about his technology to dive deeper with your questions with him as it relates to athletes and training?
  4. Who has inspired you the most as it relates to applying brain science to your work?
  5. What is your vision for your podcast and fitness training? I don’t see you as the average trainer. What are you doing differently than others?

For those who want to learn more about you, and follow your Live Great Lifestyle podcast podcast, I will put a link in the show notes, and what’s the best way to learn more about you? Is it


Thank you, Luke, first of all for all you have done to support the work I’m doing here. I really wouldn’t have anyone to interview without people like you connecting me to other people who are a fit. I do wish you the best with your work, and know that you will continue to make an impact on the lives of those who are looking to improve their health, whether it’s from your personal training, or your podcast. Thanks for everything.


LeBron James Partners with the Calm App to Promote Mental Fitness.

3 Ways to Reverse Your Biological Age by Dave Asprey

Dave Asprey Blog on Anti-Aging

Huberman Lab, Stanford University

Box Breathing

James Nester Breath (May 26, 2020).



[ii] Live Great Lifestyle Podcast with Luke DePron


President of Wave Neuroscience Dr. Erik Won on “Ground-Breaking Technology That is Changing the Future of Mental Health”

President of Wave Neuroscience Dr. Erik Won on “Ground-Breaking Technology That is Changing the Future of Mental Health”

October 11, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #89 with Dr. Erik Won, a Harvard trained doc turned Navy flight surgeon before becoming CTO of Boeing Aerospace. Now he is the President and CMO of Wave Neuroscience, a company dedicated to creating a world where every individual—regardless of socioeconomic status, can improve their mind. Erik and the team at Wave Neuroscience are the world leading experts in Brain Health, Brain Injuries, PTSD, Depression/Anxiety among others. The tech they’ve pioneered involves using computational analytics to solve problems that have never been tackled before in the mental health space and they are doing it non-evasively, with no medications of any kind.

Watch the interview with Dr. Won on YouTube here. 

I feel so lucky to have been introduced to Dr. Won, from another podcaster, Luke DePron,[i] a former actor, turned lifestyle and fitness entrepreneur who told me that I needed to take a look at the WaveNeuro[ii] Science Team.   Luke sent me a link to the podcast he did with Dr. Erik Won and Navy Seal Ned Mason[iii],  (if you want to listen to it, you can access it in the show notes). I was blown away with what Erik and his team are doing. If you have been interested in our past few episodes where we talk about the importance of looking at the brain, to improve performance, you will know that this is not just something that is for those involved in Special Operations in the military, elite athletes, or for people who are struggling with a brain disorder. The WaveNeuro Science Team is dealing more and more with mainstream people, like you and me, who are looking to improve their performance.

Welcome Dr. Won, thank you so much for agreeing to come on the podcast to share what you are doing to help the world to improve their brains and minds with this groundbreaking technology.

Before we get to the questions, I wanted to let you know that I watched your interview with Dhru Purohit (Proit) on his Broken Brain Podcast, and I’m so glad I watched that interview, prior to this one. My last podcast episode was with Dr. Andrew Newberg, the Director of Research at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, who has dedicated his research to a topic he calls neurotheology, or connecting our brain to our spiritual and religious nature, so when I heard that you actually considered becoming a priest, early in your career, I didn’t think it was an accident that I have this opportunity to interview you after Dr. Newberg, and learn how you chose your current career path, driving you with your mission and purpose to help people with their mental health, which we need more than ever these days.

Dr. Won, to get straight into the questions, I was drawn to your work after listening to your interview with Luke DePron because my husband and I recently had a SPECT image brain scan, to see if we could learn anything about ways to improve our health. I was taking tons of notes and had to rewind the interview a few times to learn how you are measuring the activity in the brain and diagnosing ways to optimize brain health with your ground breaking technology.

  1. What is the difference between a SPECT image brain scan, and how you are scanning brains at using EEG?
  2. Can you explain exactly how the EEG scans work? Let’s say, if I’m an athlete with a traumatic brain injury, and I come in to get an EEG scan, what would your technology and treatment program look like after the scan?
  3. From the brain scans that you have done, what are seeing in the brains of regular people vs elite athletes? Is a faster processing brain better?  Can you look at someone and guess, oh they are healthy, I bet their brain is processing on the higher side? What has surprised you the most from the research you have been doing the past 10 years, and over 10,000 brain scans?
  4. I know that brain scans seem to be something that elite athletes do, to improve performance, and they have the reputation of being expensive. What do you think the future holds for people who want to “look” at their brain to optimize performance? Will it eventually be something everyone could do for a low cost, or even free, do you think?
  5. We are seeing loud and clear that there are some staples for brain health that we should all be aware of. (Improving sleep, Diet, Exercise, Optimizing Our Microbiome, and Intermittent Fasting). What are the most important health staples that you are seeing, with your work in this field?
  6. What about memory? I’ve mentioned that I scored low on my brain scan with memory recall. Is this something that you think we should just work on (to improve memory muscle?) What about processing speed. I also scored low on my ability to hit a key on a keyboard over and over again. What is processing speed important for with everyday life, and of all the people you come to see, what are most people worried about the most?
  7. Can you spot diseases like Alzheimer’s in the brain from your EEG scans?
  8. I was speaking with Sean Bartlett, your public relations manager, preparing for this interview, to capture your vision for the future with these questions, and he let me know that something that’s important to you is to find a more functional way of diagnosing mental health issues in the future.  He shared with me an article by the former NIMH Director, Thomas Insel,[iv] that talks of the new direction for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5). How is your work with the brain helping to take the subjectivity out of mental health and aiming for a new functional way of diagnosing mental health in the future?
  9. To bring this podcast to a close, is there anything important that we have missed, that you think is important to cover, to end on a positive note for those listening around the world?

Thank you so much Dr. Won for your time today, to explain this mind-blowing technology to us. To learn more about about WaveNeuro Science, I will post the links in the show notes, and anyone can go to, find LinkedIn @wave-neuroscience, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @Waveneuro.







EEG vs MRI vs FMRI “What’s the Difference” by Bryn Farmsworth, Ph.D July 12, 2019

Dr. David Perlmutter’s “Alzheimer’s: The Science of Prevention” EPISODE 10 on Sleep

About Blue Light and Your Health

Health Benefits of Transcendental Meditation

If You Feel Thankful, Write it Down. It’s Good for Your Health (Dec. 24th, 2018).

WOOP Device for Measuring Sleep

Oura Ring for Sleep Tracking

Apple Watch Series 6 for Sleep Tracking

Matthew Walker Why We Sleep (Oct. 3, 2017)

Ketones Improves Apolipoprotein E4-related memory deficiency via sirtuin 3

2-Photon Excitation Microscopy

How Sleep Cleans the Brain

11 Ways Your Life Can Disrupt the Gut Microbiome


[i] Luke Depron, former actor, turned lifestyle and fitness expert and host of The Live Great Lifestyle Podcast

[ii] Team Understanding and Improving Your Cognitive Health

[iii] Luke Depron, host of Live Great Lifestyle on Understanding Your Brain Function and Performance

[iv] Post by former NIMH Director Thomas Insel on Transforming Diagnosis.


Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg M.D. on Demystifying the Human Brain with “Neurotheology, Spect Scans and Strategies for the Aging Brain.”

Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg M.D. on Demystifying the Human Brain with “Neurotheology, Spect Scans and Strategies for the Aging Brain.”

October 3, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #88 with Dr. Andrew Newberg, M.D[i]. an American neuroscientist who is the Director of Research at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital,[1]  and the author of ten books (translated into 6 languages), and over 200 articles on neuroimaging in neuropsychiatric disorders and also on neuroscience and religion.

Watch the interview on YouTube here. 

I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to speak with Andrew, as he has been exploring the topic of neurotheology, which addresses the relationship between the brain and religious experiences, since his teenage years.

Andrew is the co-author of the bestselling book, How God Changes Your Brain[ii] (2009) which was chosen by Oprah for her book club that same year[iii] and Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief (2001)[iv] which both explore the relationship between neuroscience and spiritual experience. He has also co-authored Words Can Change Your Brain (2013)[v] Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality and Truth (2008)[vi] and The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Belief (1999). The latter book received the 2000 award for Outstanding Books in Theology and the Natural Sciences presented by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences[vii] which is an organization that focuses on building bridges between theology and science.

I’ve got some powerful, insightful, thought provoking questions for Andy, and I know you will find this topic interesting, especially with his ability to share his insights and years of research, from the point of view of pure science.

My name is Andrea Samadi,  and if you are new here, I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field, with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, whether you are an educator, or in the corporate space, to take your results to the next level. If we want to improve our social, emotional and cognitive abilities, it all starts with an understanding of our brain.

Welcome Andy and thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of this fascinating topic on the podcast today.

For anyone who knows your schedule, this is a rare opportunity, and I’m grateful for Mark Waldman[viii] for connecting us after the webinar you did last week where you addressed many powerful and mind-boggling questions that connect theology and neuroscience that I know will benefit those who listen to this podcast in different part of the world.

Q1: Andy, I have had so much interest in this podcast, even before we had booked our time to speak today. I just put up a graphic with your book cover “How God Changes Your Brain” and the messages started coming in on all social media accounts. Then I quoted something you say in the book “the more you think about God, the more you alter the neural circuitry of in specific parts of the brain”...and then you say with the utmost confidence that “God can change your brain.” (Andrew Newberg M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, How God Changes Your Brain).

Can we begin here?  Where did your interest in religion and the human brain begin? What is Neurotheology? What does neuroscience say about whether there is a God or not?

Q2: I have to ask it. I grew up going to church every Sunday, (Presbyterian), read and studied the Bible, and really do believe in the 10 Commandments but I still don’t really know how I would explain God, other than the fact that I just believe he exists and I do feel more connected to God/spirit when I’m in nature. I know that you have scanned the brains of Franciscan nuns and charted the neurological changes that happen in the brain.  What is God? Is God the same as consciousness? What does your research show about religion and the human brain? Is there a certain area you would look at that connects my religious beliefs to my brain?

Q3: You covered this on the training you did for Mark Waldman’s group last week, but I think it’s so important to talk about today. It’s about the power of intercessory prayer (praying on behalf of others).  It’s a component of the Dr. Daniel Siegel’s “Wheel of Awareness[ix]” Meditation where we are asked to focus on those who we are close to and send loving/kindness to those in our communities, cities, state, country and expanding to the world. What does your research say about praying for someone far away? Is it possible to measure one person who might not put the focused attention towards the person they are praying for verses someone else who focuses with intent, loving, and kindness? Can prayer really impact those close or far from us?

Q4: You mentioned on that call you did last week, that you did a brain scan, an MRI, where they measured your brain, and your memory, by asking you to remember 10 words. This caught my attention, because I just had my brain scanned using a SPECT SCAN and, the results showed I scored low (1/10) on recall memory which I feel was accurate. For the life I me, I couldn’t remember random words during the test.  But I can remember things word for word, from over 30 years ago (conversations with people, or speeches from 12 years ago). From the brain scans that you have done, what are some strategies that you have seen for people like me, looking to improve memory recall? How did YOU do on that MRI test?  What other techniques have you seen people use to improve their memory?

Q5: I just finished watching Dr. David Perlmutter’s Alzheimer’s, the Science of Prevention Series[x] that focuses on the staple things we should all be doing to prevent this debilitating disease that has he mentions no known or meaningful cure. We all know that sleep, diet and exercise and important for protecting the aging brain, but what else have you found to be an important practice to preserve our brain health? What do you do?

Q6: We’ve covered belief or paradigms on this podcast, with different episodes and speakers. What do you think from your experience working with the brain? What are beliefs, how do they form, where are they stored, and how can we change old/outdated beliefs?

Q7: In closing, is there anything that’s important to this topic, that we haven’t discussed today?


The Principles of Neurotheology by Andrew Newberg, M.D.

Kirtan Kriya Meditation




[ii] How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist, Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman (March 20, 2009)

[iii] Oprah’s Book Club

[iv] Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief by Andrew Newberg M.D., Eugene D’Aquili, and Vince Rause (2001)

[v] Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy by Andrew Newberg M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman

[vi] Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering Our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality and Truth by Andrew Newberg M.D.

[vii] Center for Theology and Natural Sciences

[viii] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #30 with Mark Robert Waldman on “12 Brain-Based Experiential Learning and Living Practices”

[ix] Dan Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness Meditation

[x] Alzheimer’s: The Science of Prevention Series with Dr. David Perlmutter


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