Your Brain on Stocks

I spent the past few days talking to smart people about the brain. I wanted to know what happens to our brains during an economic meltdown of the kind we are currently experiencing. It was fascinating. You can see what I learned on

At the end of each conversation, I asked these people—neuroscientists, anxiety experts, decision-science researchers—what they were doing differently than the rest of us during this strange period.

They aren’t checking how much they have lost, for one thing. They don’t trust their brains with that kind of drama. They are waiting 24 hours after a flurry of news before making any changes. “Fear is a drug,” neuroeconomist Gregory Berns told me. “Don’t make any financial decisions under the influence of fear.”

I actually feel a lot more chill about the whole situation having talked to them. Your brain is just doing its thing—worrying about things it can’t control. That doesn’t mean your brain is right.

For help with anxiety, check out the The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety—a promising new approach to a very old problem. Or get the workbook for free by participating in this study. Special thanks to John Forsyth, one of the co-authors of the workbook and a helpful source to me over the years, for letting me know about this very cool study.