Circa: Spring,1995. Fortunate enough to be celebrating our daughter’s high school graduation with friends in the Bahamas, we would tirelessly listen to Dave Matthews’ new CD, Under the Table and Dreaming, with the hit “Satellite” among our favorites. An entire week of sun, sand, music, laughter and fun! For years after, every time I heard a song from that album, I was whisked back in time to that amazing week and experiencing all of the feelings associated with that adventure. It was my go-to CD while driving in my car. Even 15 years later, in an attempt to divert myself and to feel better, I would listen to it on the way home from the nursing home where my dad lay dying. And it helped a little. 5 years have passed since my Dad’s death. I have a different car, and different CD’s in the player. While on my long commute to work the other day, I was searching in my glove box for something different to listen to, and I came across Dave’s CD. Smiling, I popped it in my player. My expectation was that I was going to enjoy my music selection during my long commute. But, my reality was different. As soon as Dave started singing, I felt a wave of sadness come over me. My chest tightened and the tears began to stream down my face. What had happened?? Dave’s amazing music was exactly the same, but it had taken on a different meaning. My reaction was completely different. “Satellite” was now paired with pain in my heart, instead of joy. A favorite CD that used to bring smiles to my face, now brought on deep sorrow. Wow! Can experiences change the brain? Can a pleasant stimulus (Dave’s CD) change to unpleasant depending on what it is paired with?? I can attest to that, can you?!? Can it go both ways?? You betcha!!
#pavlovsdog #stimulusresponse #brainplasticity #rethinkanxiety #justtellmewhattodo