The relationship between the mind and brain is front and center for me these past few months. Is seems, that wherever I turn, I encounter a lecture, a reading, or a discussion in some form about this. Most recently, I was at a coaching conference in Boston where one of the goals was to provide concrete evidence on the impact of coaching. Study after study showed how when people are connected in psyche, they are also connected physiologically. For instance when therapists are empathetic with their patients and they report that they are feeling emotionally in synch with one another, their MRIs show similar patterns and their galvanic skin measures match. Communication and connection occur at both the biological and emotional level. Another study showed that a good bedside manner by doctors has positive impact on medical outcomes. Yes, our experience of consciousness is not just epiphenomenal to our biological existence; they are linked.
The physiological power of connection also holds true for people and their pets. Another researcher revealed data that when pet owners are petting their furry friends, then separated, then reunited, their body responses such as heart rate are matched, then disparate, then matched again. What this says to me is that we humans need and want connection to others (of the animal and people kind). It’s not just that it feels good on an emotional level; it is good on a biological level too. I feel validated that labeling Psychology as “soft science” is not accurate – mind and brain really are connected. And I am reminded over and over again why I can’t help my strong reactions to data – I was born a researcher (see Researching like a pac-man). I am fascinated with studies that show why connection with others is so powerful. Simply put, connection is good for our mind and brain.