Does Holding Hands with Someone Affect Your Brain Waves?

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

When you hold someone’s hand, there is a surprising side effect in your brain waves. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen describe this phenomenon, and how it can either help or hurt your emotional state of being.


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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain, to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD and addictions.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to hear the brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest-quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit

Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. And stay tuned for a special code for a discount to Amen Clinics for a full evaluation as well as any of our supplements at

Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back, everybody. We are so excited for this podcast. There's a new study and I actually put it in my new book, Feel Better Fast and Make it Last, that's coming out this November. It's a study from the University of Colorado at Boulder that showed that when romantic partners, that's us, most of the time, hold hands, with a partner in pain, their brainwaves sync together and her or his pain subsides. So I read that study and I'm like holding hands, our brainwaves will sync, so you want to be very careful who hold you hands with-

Tana Amen: Who you hold brainwaves, right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Because you're going to get-

Tana Amen: We hold brainwaves. We hold-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Their deranged into yours as sort of like channeling.

Tana Amen: So you sync up. That's really cool. Well, I'm going to tell you something that like totally changes my brainwaves. I love it when you guys send in testimonials. These are so much fun. I just want to read a couple really fast because they make my day.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Thank you for doing that. Send more. Send more.

Tana Amen: The fact that you guys take time to tell us how this is helping you in some way is very meaningful to us. So let's see. We've got this one from... Well, it's [inaudible 00:02:30], so I don't know.

These podcasts are great in helping one stay vigilant in making health a top priority. We watched the 26 online videos, bought the Brain Warrior's Way book and cookbook, now have a ping-pong table and are playing regularly. Changed our eating habits and take brain and bodymax supplements. I listen to the podcast more than once and keep me motivated, they keep me motivated.

That's a brain Warrior's right there.

Dr. Daniel Amen: She's a brain Warrior's.

Tana Amen: Doing everything, so we love that. And then this one-

Dr. Daniel Amen: And she's giving herself extra years to her life.

Tana Amen: Right, for sure.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And creating Warrior's around her.

Tana Amen: Right, because her whole family is getting involved. So I love this one too.

I enjoy listening to Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen. I have an adult dependent daughter with ADHD, PTSD, and anxiety disorder. Hearing what Tana experienced as a child helped me to understand how the traumatic events my daughter experienced as a child have affected her brain and how it causes her to react as she does in certain situations. I had already incorporated many of the healthy eating habits in our family meals and am hoping to kill the ANTs process with, will help her with her negative thoughts.

And I love that because sometimes I feel like we just are exposing some of my crazy stories and I wonder if we should always do that, but to know that it helps anyone is really helpful. So thank you for that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well that's exactly why we do this.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: To help you be a Warrior's. Be armed, prepared and aware so that you can really win the fight of your life. And that is keeping your brain healthy throughout life so you will love your life and your wife and your kids with the best brain possible.

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Because with a healthy brain comes a healthy life. But we have to go back to this holding hands. I just thought it was so interesting, especially because we did a podcast on chronic pain-

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And some of the simple things you can do involve things that have no side effects.

Tana Amen: Right and-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Unless you hold the hand of the wrong person. Then it has side effects.

Tana Amen: You don't want a stalker out of this whole thing. The other thing I thought was interesting in this, you're talking about syncing up brainwaves, but it's really interesting because it all does... Think about... Because we also did a previous podcast on oxytocin. Holding hands and hugging, we know, gives you a little burst of oxytocin so that would definitely decrease chronic pain. That's a little different than what this study focuses on but it does that, in addition.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, so things like massage can be very helpful in healing. Most people don't think about it, but your skin is the largest organ of your body and it has nerve cells to... I mean, all of your skin has nerve cells that go to your brain, to many different areas of your brain. That's one of the reason that acupuncture works.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And acupressure works. Doing body work... I'm listening to a book by Bessel Van der Kolk called The Body Keeps The Score about post-traumatic stress disorder and how often doing body work can be helpful in decreasing the emotional intensity of trauma.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I think this is so interesting that I put it in Feel Better Fast and Make it Last because it's so simple to do. If you're in pain or even-

Tana Amen: All you have to do.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Holding hands. So those of you listening, we're holding hands now. We're going to hold hands through this whole podcast and you know, when you're just dating and its like well when do I grab her hand, when do I hold her hand, it becomes a very important moment. Right?

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's a very important bonding moment.

Tana Amen: Well, and I love when we're walking and we hold hands. It just sort of puts you in a good mood. Like it's weird.

Dr. Daniel Amen: But again, you have to be careful on whose hand you hold.

Tana Amen: This is true.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Because if you're holding the hand of someone who's angry, for example, then your brainwaves are going to start sync to that as well and now, maybe your positivity can overcome it, but you have to know that there's a risk of being influenced by what's going on in another person's mind.

Tana Amen: That's one of the reasons we say that the people you hang out with matter. They can determine the length of your life sometimes.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and people are contagious.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And I think, you know, in our situation, we have made each other better.

Tana Amen: Better.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right? Because we weren't all that great in relationships before we met.

Tana Amen: Neither one of us were that great, were we? It's always about fit. So here we are, sort of admitting that. It's about fit, but we are a good fit.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. I mean, I would tell you, I'm just like a wonderful person but it didn't sort of show up in the relationships.

Tana Amen: It doesn't if you're with the wrong person.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That I had and if you're not holding hands, that's sort of telling-

Tana Amen: A bad sign, yeah.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's telling if you're not holding hands, you're also not syncing-

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Your brainwave patterns, but you're not syncing your thoughts and your ideas.

Tana Amen: Well and clearly there's a little bit of a disconnect if you're not affectionate at all with your partner.

Dr. Daniel Amen: But yeah, no, it's trouble. But what you said though was very important that even though both of us, I would argue, because I know you super well, and you know me super well, both of us are good people. We're mission driven, we're kind, we want to do the right thing, but with the people before, who were also good people-

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That it just didn't sync right.

Tana Amen: Yeah, the fit was wrong.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The fit was wrong and that led to chronic unhappiness-

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And stress. And so, you know, I liked you so much when I first met you, so the first thing I had to do, obviously, was scan you. You know, people are starting to use the Brain Warrior's Way podcast code to come to the clinic and get scanned. I'm so excited.

Tana Amen: Well, hopefully what they're doing to, if you're sharing it and giving the code to someone else, our hope is give it to as many people as you want. But the hope is that you don't just give them the code. Have them listen to the podcast. So look, the podcast is free. You can give them the code if you want. We're not going to... There's no code police. But the goal is for you to build a community. The goal is for you to have a community of people who think like you do. We want to get people healthy. That's our goal, that's why we're doing this, that's why we have you the code to begin with, right, is to spread the word, so-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and the code gives them a discount-

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: to come to Amen Clinics and one of the reasons I wanted to scan you is yes, I wanted to see what I was up against with your brain.

Tana Amen: Up against? Really?

Dr. Daniel Amen: I wanted to see how healthy or unhealthy it was.

Tana Amen: And I surprised you.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And it was very healthy. It was busy in trauma, which you talked about and then what I did was paid for EMDR sessions, right, because there was trauma, and so getting psychological help is a sign that you're smart. And right away, you took it. Like right away, you took it. It's a sign that it's not about ego, it's about being better. So many people go. "Oh, I'm not going to go get help. I am not going to go get help. There's nothing the matter with me."

Tana Amen: But see, I said that at first too. And this is to the people out there who are like that. I said that at first too, because I had been hurt by the traditional psychiatric system. When they put... If you listen to a couple of the previous podcasts, I was put on Prozac. It was the wrong medicine for me. I was depressed. I went down the wrong trail and I had seen that same thing happen to other people in my family, and so, I wasn't open to it at first. But there was something about when I was able to see it. Does that make sense? I was like, "Oh, wow, that's so cool." And so then I was able to actually physically see it. There was something different about that for me.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right and I-

Tana Amen: And I was a neurosurgical ICU nurse so that sort of made sense.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and what made sense to you as I often say, "Nobody wants to see psychiatrist." You didn't even want to date one.

Tana Amen: No, I did not.

Dr. Daniel Amen: No one wants to be labeled as defective or crazy or abnormal.

Tana Amen: When in fact, we think most of them are a little bit off, so-

Dr. Daniel Amen: But everybody, including you, wanted a better brain. So what if mental health is really brain health? And given how smart you were, are, you're like, "Oh, I want this better."

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I want this...

Tana Amen: I'm very competitive that way.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Yes, you are. It's the curse of the beautiful woman.

Tana Amen: Yeah, so he was scanning my brain to make sure there was no major defects. I was scanning my brain because I'm like I bet this is going to be really good. So I was like horrified, because there was like... You could see the trauma. And I'm like, it's not that good because the trauma... So I was really upset actually because you could see this diamond pattern of trauma there and you could see where I'd bumped my head in a car accident, so I was really upset because it wasn't perfect. I was like, "Okay, what do I have to do to make it better?" Because I was not happy.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Which is what high-performance people do. They don't get bummed it's not perfect-

Tana Amen: Oh, I was mad.

Dr. Daniel Amen: They get motivated-

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Dr. Daniel Amen: To be perfect, they fall in love, if you will, with their brain, which is what you did and now a dozen years later, you've written eight books. You've written six cookbooks.

Tana Amen: Eight books in seven years. Who knew? I was like what is going on? You never told me I was going to have to work that hard.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, when you held my hand, my brain-

Tana Amen: I synced up. Oh no, that's what happened. Oh my. That is... I've never been able to explain it until just this moment. He's written 30 books, published 30 major books and like 10 other supplementary books, so 40 books total. So that's what happened. You held my hand and it just downloaded-

Dr. Daniel Amen: So be careful whose hand you hold-

Tana Amen: That's hilarious.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Because people are contagious. Stay with us.