Srini Pillay, MD

Srini Pillay, M.D. (www.drsrinipillay.com) is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Part-Time) at Harvard Medical School. After graduating as the overall top medical student in South Africa, he completed his residency in psychiatry at McLean Hospital—Harvard’s largest freestanding psychiatric hospital. There, he won more national awards than any resident in his class, and was one of the top three award winners in the US. Srini has completed fellowships in Psychopharmacology, Structural Brain Imaging and Functional Brain Imaging. In addition, he was Director of the Outpatient Anxiety Disorders Program at McLean Hospital. Srini was nationally funded by NIDA and was a co-investigator on many NIMH grants during his seventeen years of studying functional brain imaging at McLean Hospital, where he was Director of the Panic Disorders Research Program in the Brain Imaging Center. During this time he maintained an active clinical practice and still does. Srini is invested in translating research findings in psychiatry for the general public. A keen but non-nihilistic critic of certainty in any realm, he is invested in honoring qualitative and evidenced-based approaches from thoughtful examinations of psychological vulnerabilities. Srini received the “Books for a Better Life” award for his book, “Life Unlocked: 7 Revolutionary Lessons to Overcome Fear (Rodale, 2010). As an expert in brain-based leadership development and CEO of NeuroBusiness Group (www.neurobusinessgroup.com), he has also written “Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders (FT Press, 2011.)” Srini has contributed to developing leaders at The World Bank, IMF, United Nations, Fortune 500 Food and Beverage Companies, Lockheed Martin and many others. He is internationally recognized as an expert in applied brain science and human behavior, having been invited to speak throughout the US, London, Greece, Paris, Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria, Brazil and India. His expertise has also frequently been sought out by the media having been featured on CNN, Fox, NPR, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider and various other outlets. His upcoming book, a deeper examination of focus, distraction and human complexity will be published by Random House (Ballantine) in the Spring of 2017. Srini is also a musician and poet.


Posts by Srini Pillay, MD

Write your anxieties away

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Research into people who struggle with anxiety suggests that free-form writing specifically about their concerns may help the brain use its resources to better focus on challenging tasks.

Why you can’t get a song out of your head and what to do about it

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

The experience of having an “earworm”—a song that’s stuck in your head—is extremely common. But why do they happen? And how do you get rid of one?

Secret to brain success: Intelligent cognitive rest

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

The ability to train one’s mind to activate the “unfocus” part of the brain, also called the default mode network, can help improve creativity and unlock access to the unconscious mind.

How to rediscover meaning in your life

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

People who feel their life have meaning are less depressed and recover from illness more quickly. But that feeling of meaning can slip away when life hands you lemons. One of the best ways to reconnect with that sense of significance might just be stepping away from your routine and embracing spontaneity.

When are self-help programs “helpful”?

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

There is an explosion of books, tapes, podcasts, programs, and apps that claim to provide self-help. If you are considering any sort of self-help program, making the effort to evaluate its merits (underlying research, if any; reputation and qualifications of its source; whether or not the program is a good match for your needs) will increase the odds you find something appropriate and effective.

The “thinking” benefits of doodling

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Remaining focused for extended periods of time is difficult, but researchers believe that doodling gives a break to parts of the brain, making it possible to absorb and retain more information overall. While this phenomenon is not well understood, neuroscience is starting to learn how doodling might help boost attention and and focus.

Brain science suggests “mind wandering” can help manage anxiety

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

The wandering mind can get stuck on negative thoughts and start to “react” to a perceived threat that feels very real–and makes you feel anxious. Naming the negative feeling associated with that thought and then helping your mind wander in a more positive direction can help.

Greater self-acceptance improves emotional well-being

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Many people struggle with self-acceptance. A lack of self-acceptance can do more than impact your self-esteem: it can actually reduce the amount of gray matter your brain has available to work with. Fortunately, there are several different ways to increase your self-acceptance and, in the process, make real, physical changes in the way your brain works. Give it a try!

Managing your emotions can save your heart

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Phrases like “I almost died of fright” aren’t just hyperbole. The heart and brain are actually intimately connected, and emotions that are strong enough to disrupt the brain’s function can also take a measurable physical toll on the heart. Of course, this means that if you can change your brain’s responses to these emotions, you can get a healthier heart in the process, too. We’ve listed some ways you can get started.

The psychology of low back pain

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Some aspects of chronic back pain really are “in your head” — but that doesn’t mean you’re making it up. Rather, research has shown that when pain is chronic, the brain processes it not via the usual “pain” circuits, but via the “emotion” circuits. This means that you can actually reduce chronic pain by changing your psychological and emotional response to it. We’ve listed several techniques that have been proven to reduce chronic back pain.