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Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for episode #143 with Dr. Jon Lieff, a nationally recognized neuropsychiatrist and expert on cellular communication science that’s all about how it’s our cells communicating with each other that causes feelings, sickness, thoughts, and disease in our bodies.

Watch this interview on YouTube here

See past episodes here

In today’s episode, you will learn:

✔︎ Dr. Lief’s thoughts on what is the mind vs the brain, and a closer look at perception and memory from the cell level.
✔︎ Why we get brain fog with depression and chronic stress.
✔︎ How acupuncture works and builds our immune system.
✔︎ How meditation increases immunity and fights against viruses.
✔︎ What we should ALL know about our cells for improved health and wellness.
✔︎  Dr. Lief’s thoughts on whether the mind can influence your health.
✔︎  The fascinating intelligence within each cell and how a liver cell knows what it’s supposed to do in the body.

This is going to be a fascinating conversation, and the excitement for this episode began the week BEFORE the interview, when I posted Dr. Lieff’s book and information about the interview on social media, with a link to his website, and the buzz began. I know this is a topic of interest for listeners, and I think it’s very important to feature speakers who provide scientific research to answer the questions we might have about ways to improve our health, productivity and results. What you will learn today will open up your mind to new ways of looking at your health and performance, going beyond our brain, and into the cells of our body, that Dr. Lieff says are “the way our health works.”[i]

If you are new here, I’m Andrea Samadi, author and educator from Toronto, Canada, now living in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, sports, and the workplace with strategies that we can all use, understand and implement, for improved results. If you have been listening to our podcast for some time, you will know that we’ve uncovered that if we want to improve our social and emotional skills, and experience success in our work and personal lives, it all begins with an understanding of our brain. And since most of us have not had a crash course in the basics of neuroscience, and how an understanding of our brain can impact learning, I launched this podcast in June 2019 with the goal of interviewing leaders and experts who have risen to the top of their field, using these success principles.

Which brings me to our next guest, Dr. Jon Lieff.[ii] What captivated me with Dr. Lieff’s work even before I had read his book, was when I heard him talking about where his interest in the topic of cellular communication began, and he noticed that the books written on this topic were impossible for the average person to understand. This is the whole reason why we started this podcast, with a focus on neuroscience, so we could take the research and break it down so that it is simple and easy for anyone without a background in science to understand. When you meet Dr. Lieff, you will find he is someone who can take high level, complex, scientific concepts, and break them down to be applicable in our daily life. This is what makes his work unique, and I know that it will be what propels him to reach the masses with these sought-after connections between the mind, brain, body and health.

Here’s Dr. Lieff’s background so you can see the work he has been involved in for most of his career, leading him to the fascinating work on The Secret Language of Cells.

Dr. Lieff is a graduate of Yale and holds a Doctorate in Medicine from Harvard Medical School; he is a known innovator in several medical fields and the leading neuropsychiatrist investigating cellular conversations.  His book explores the cellular conversation as a new way of understanding how our cells have constant intelligent chatter between them, showing no separation of brain-body, mind-body, or brain-immune.

As a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and former president of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, Dr. Lieff is an expert in the field of neuropsychiatry. He has delivered innumerable lectures on neuroscience, psychopharmacology, brain injury, dementia, and depression for audiences of physicians, other health care providers, and the general public.

Dr. Lieff wrote some of the first books on computing and high technology in psychiatry for the American Psychiatric Press, leading to the development of one of the earliest treatment facilities for brain injury in the US.

Dr. Lieff has been quoted in Newsweek, People magazine, and other major national media outlets and has recently spoken on the podcast Stay Young America!

I’m so excited to dive deep into his most recent book, The Secret Language of Cells: What Biological Conversation Tells Us About the Brain-Body Connection[iii] and see what we will uncover.

Welcome Dr. Lieff, it’s wonderful to finally meet you after speaking via email the past week.

Q1: Dr. Lieff, I could begin our conversation with the question that everyone asks you about your book, “why did you write this book?” but I do like to dive a bit deeper and let the listeners visit the show notes where I will list some of your recent podcasts like your Stay Young America Podcast[iv] that was excellent or To Your Good Health Radio Podcast[v] and start with a topic that I know is important enough for you to name your website after “Searching for the Mind” which will bring your website up if anyone types that phrase into Google.

Searching for the meaning of “mind vs brain” is something I have also been interested in, and I recorded an episode on “Understanding the Difference Between the Mind and the Brain[vi]” on EPISODE #23 when we first began our podcast. Can you give your perspective of what is our mind vs our brain?

Q1B: Can you explain perception and memory?

Q2: When I read some of your testimonials of  your book, like the brilliant mind of Ray Kurzweil, who many educators know as an innovator, and he says your book is a “must read for anyone seeking to understand modern biology and advanced medical science” or Andrew Weil, MD, who says your book is “a new paradigm for understanding health and disease” I looked at the title of your book for a minute and thought about the fact that I have spent 2 years focused on podcasts about the brain, maybe some that go into the nervous system, but not one thought about how our cells control our health and well-being. Can you explain this discovery and what it means for the average person who wants to learn what they can do to improve their health, results and productivity with this understanding of what’s going on with our cells?

Q3: Now I have to ask some questions that I know the initial answer will be that “science hasn’t proven that yet” but I wonder what you think of this topic with your background as a medical doctor and research in this field. My Mom was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer in the late 1990s, with less than 15% chance of survival, and I have a good friend whose daughter was recently diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and was pretty much told there’s no hope for you. For people like my friend’s daughter, I wonder what you would think of my Mom’s story of how she beat Cancer.  She was very much into the study of the mind, and told me that she did this mental exercise where she would twice a day, go from head to toe, and picture a person with an axe chopping or breaking up the cancer cells in her body. She was the only person in her group who beat Cancer and remains Cancer free today. What do you think? Can the mind influence health to this extent?

Q4: What about my friend’s daughter with a brain tumor? What’s the difference between brain cells (the wired brain) and the wireless brain (immune cells, blood vessel cells, organ lining cells)?

4B: What would  you do if you were told that you had Cancer?

I did learn something from the quiz you have on the homepage of your website called “Do You Know Your Cells”[vii] but wonder, how did you discover that cells communicate with each other?

Q5: Where do you think this intelligence within each cell comes from? How does a liver cell know exactly what it’s supposed to do?

Q6: Dr. Lieff, I could keep asking you questions, but know that you will answer more when you come out with your second and third book on this topic, and I would love to have you back on the podcast to keep this discussion going, but what are the main topics with these next books?

I want to thank you very much Dr. Lieff for sharing your fascinating work with us. For those who want to learn more about you, I will put the link to your website and social media links in the show notes.

Dr. Lieff’s website or put Searching for the Mind into Google and you come up right away.

Dr. Lieff on TWITTER

Dr. Lieff on LINKEDIN

Q9: What would be your final thought, or something that I have missed, that you think is important?

Thank you Dr. Lieff.


Animal Scientist Dr. Mark Bekoff

Helpful Microbes

CAR T Cells: Engineering a cancer-fighting immune super soldier January 19, 2016

Carl Zimmer The Meaning of Life

Know Thyself: Well-Being and Subjective Experience Published January 22, 2018 by Joseph E LeDoux, Richard Brown, Daniel S Pine, Stefan G Hoffmann

What is This thing Called Subjective Experience?

Neuroimmune circuits in inter-organ communications Published by Jun R. Huh December 19, 2019


[i] Stay Young America Podcast with Dr. Jon Lieff


[iii] The Secret Language of Cells: What Biological Conversation Tells Us About the Brain-Body Connection by Jon Lieff, MD. September 22, 2020

[iv] Stay Young America Podcast with Dr. Jon Lieff

[v] To Your Good Health Radio Podcast with Dr. Jon Lieff

[vi] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #23 on “Understanding the Difference Between Your Brain and Your Mind”

[vii] Do You Know Your Cells Quiz (halfway down the page)