Permission to Chocolate, Dopamine or Bust, & Sing a Simple Song

Dawn's Big Three This Week:

1) 🥑 Food For Thought:

No need to shame your chocolate cravings this holiday. Cocoa’s flavanols are proven to boost memory and speed up reaction time. Just make sure to dig into the dark stuff and leave the rest for Santa.

2) ☔ Make It Brain: 

Double down on dopamine. It does more than excite the brain. Research indicates there is a link between dopamine levels and high performance.
We give you tips to hack your brain chemistry.

3) 🥇 Motivation Station:

Did you know singing promotes well-being? It’s true. But there’s something better for all you songbirds: belting out melodies with other people. Research proves singing in a crowd is better than of solo karaoke. 

Knowledge is potential, share it.

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You asked. We listened.

Based on your feedback, this week's dispatch is shorter, sweeter, and 24 hours ahead of schedule. Word on the street is Sunday suits your hectic schedule best.

Feel free to hit reply and tell us what you think.

🥑 Food For Thought 💭

Permission to chocolate

The TL;DR ⌚️
('Too long, didn't read', for any of you too embarrassed to ask.)

Delicious news for indecisive dessert lovers: Scientists are actively scrutinizing dark chocolate’s ability to enhance cognitive performance.

Preliminary research is favourable, folks. Chocoholics rejoice.

Tell me more

In one study, researchers studied the effects of dark chocolate on young adults’ cognitive function. One test group feasted on the good stuff. The other snacked on white chocolate.

Researchers tested memory and reaction time two hours after consumption and the dark chocolate cohort cleaned up. Scientists attribute the results to dark chocolate’s flavanols.

Flava Flavanols

Cocoa contains plant-based substances called flavanols. These nourish grey matter and possess both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Sure, there are alternative flavanols sources out there: kale, broccoli, red grapes, apples, and onions. Your brain likes those too but come on. It’s chocolate season.

You’ll be hard pressed to find raw kale and onions at your upcoming family dinner or holiday party so work with what's available.

If your sweet tooth starts acting up, reach for dark chocolate above all other sweets.

Call it investing in your brain’s working memory and reaction time and binge responsibly.

For the nerdy 🤓: Your brain on chocolate

Make It Brain

Dopamine or bust

The TL;DR ⌚️

If you’ve got serious goals for 2019 and you’re hungry for motivation, we have one word for you: dopamine.

Get as much as you can.

It’s the brain chemical of champions. 

Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger

Dopamine is your body’s motivational neurotransmitter. It promotes desire and gets you salivating over looming rewards. (Just ask Pavlov’s dog.)

Dopamine sends your body chemical messages. These messages form a pathway that reaches the nucleus accumbens, a significant brain region linked to the brain’s reward circuit.

But researchers at Vanderbilt University discovered that when dopamine is present in two other specific brain regions, it elicits high performance, not merely anticipation. (The striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, if you’re curious.)

PET shop

The Vanderbilt research team rounded up participants and classified them as “go-getters” and “slackers.” Then the team used PET scans to map people’s brains.

Higher levels of dopamine appeared in the go-getters’ brains. It’s like they were salivating over their soon-to-be achievements.

Your turn to drool

If soaring dopamine levels can lead to higher motivation and enhanced performance, do the math. Hack your brain chemistry.

Amplify your inner life coach by stocking up on dopamine.

DIY Dopamine

Unlike eggnog, dopamine’s always available.

Exercise, meditation, sleep, massage therapy, listening to music—all are fine ways to increase your brain’s dopamine levels.

The more positive reinforcement the better so hop to it.

Here’s a dope playlist.

Here’s how we meditate.

Here’s a reminder to book a massage. (Did you need an excuse?)

For the nerdy 🤓: Info on dopamine and The science of motivation

🥇Motivation Station 🏃‍♀️

Sing a Simple Song

The TL;DR ⌚️

If you want a happier, more peaceful life, you’re just one chorus away. The positive effects of singing are backed by science.

But don’t just pull a Bridget Jones. If you want to maximize the power of song, croon with the masses. Doing so amplifies the benefits of singing all by yourself.

The Science of Song

Singing ignites the brain’s right temporal lobe. What follows is a cocktail of endorphins, cortisol and oxytocin. We feel smarter, healthier, happier, and more creative.

And the positive effects multiply when people lift their voices together. Human connection is potent.

Consider it a different slant on living in harmony. It’s easy to see why Carpool Karaoke caught on like yoga pants.

People like feeling good.

So pull out an overplayed holiday classic, crank the volume, and rally your friends. Singing is a free and simple remedy for stress, especially this time of year.

But I have a horrible voice. 

So what? Perfect pitch is not a prerequisite. Just take a deep breath and channel your best Elton John. We believe in you.

For the nerdy🤓: The Neuroscience of Singing

For all you early adopters, share this dispatch with a friend. 

What We Love This Week

🎧 Ben Greenfield and the founder of MindValley wax human potential on this podcast. Heads up: you’ll either walk away feeling like a champion or a holiday slob. You’ve been warned.


📖 We asked 200 people how they feel about mental performance and published our findings. (Thanks to our beloved readers who participated. Wheatgrass shots are on us next time.)


📽A bit off-piste maybe but if you’re into human potential, now’s a good time to revisit Gattaca. Nothing can stop Ethan Hawke from reaching his dream in a world where your genes can limit life choices.
It's 90 minutes of feel-good inspiration. 

You’re talking. We’re listening.

“It's just the type of thing I'm into - intelligent, succinct and witty. It delivers fresh ideas first thing to set me up for my week of mischief ahead. Promoting a best-selling book takes its toll and Dawn helps me push through the week at my best”

Sam Conniff, Entrepreneur and best-selling author of Be More Pirate
 

“My Monday inbox is infinitely better thanks to Dawn’s weekly dose of brain food. The short-form content is insightful, interesting and always useful - optimising my focus and productivity for the week ahead.”

Sophie Scott, Founder of Balance

Thanks for the kind words from our community - keep it coming! Feedback is dopamine.

So there you have it. Brain Food Sundays. What did you think? Let me know. ✌️

Dan

PS. Wanna give the gift of brain food? Forward this to a friend