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Unapologetically Sensitive

We explore how sensitivity weaves itself into our lives; the richness that it adds, and the strengths we have BECAUSE of our sensitivity--and some of the challenges it poses as well. You may learn to live a bolder, brighter life.

Mar 10, 2020


A Research Scientist Talks About Brain Research in the Highly Sensitive Person


Dr. Bianca Acevedo


Dr. Bianca Acevedo talks about how the brain responds to emotional displays, and what deep processing really entails. She explains the different ways the insula processes information. She also talks about intuition, and she answers the question: Do HSPs have more mirror neurons? I was surprised at the answer! Dr. Acevedo talks about a way that HSPs can recharge in 8 minutes, and she talks about the overall percentage of people who are very sensitive, moderately sensitive and less sensitive.


  • Acevedo worked with Dr. Arthur Aron
  • She has studied romantic love and newleyweds
  • Acevedo looked at brain responses to emotional display
  • Highly Sensitive People are more affected by others’ emotional displays
  • These studies used MRI scanners
  • They looked at empathy, mirror neurons, and the insula
  • Do HSPs have more mirror neurons?
  • The researchers measured blood and oxygen levels
  • HSPs process information more deeply
  • The insula processes information in the following ways—visual, auditory, tactile, vestibular, reward system, and via the organs
  • There is a signature pattern of response to certain things
  • Things that become activated in response to different things
  • Burn out can happen when we over process and we don’t get a break to recharge and recover
  • In a memory study, HSPs who took 8 minutes to rest and close their eyes between tasks, outperformed non-HSPs
  • Rumination is not a feature of being a Highly Sensitive Person. It correlates to having anxiety and depression, which can start as early and infancy/childhood
  • HSPs are more sensitive to environments
  • The impact can be lifelong and it impacts our emotional and social well-being
  • HSPs can immerse themselves in supportive environments
  • Acevedo was referred to as eccentric/quirky
  • It’s important to have respect for each other’s differences (HSP vs. non-HSP)
  • Hopefully parents who are raising male children are supporting the traits their boys show
  • Perhaps with increasing awareness about gender fluidity and gender roles, parents are allowing their kids to express whatever traits they have
  • It’s important to have at least 1 HSP in a group to pick up on things that might have been lost by the non-HSP, and it’s important to have a less sensitive person in the group
  • It’s important to be kind to yourself
  • To accept that we need to take times for ourselves
  • 30% of the population are very sensitive, 40% are moderately sensitive and 30% are less sensitive
  • HSPs are an increase sense of self-awareness, contemplation and reflection
  • This is an important piece of evolving and moving forward as a species


Dr. Bianca Acevedo is a research scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a Visiting Scholar at New York University, a private consultant, author, and sought-after public speaker. She has done extensive research on the science of love, highly sensitive persons and mind-body practices. She has taught courses on close relationships and positive psychology, and was the recipient of the 2012 International Women in Science Award. She is the developer of the LoveSmart App and her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, and the Alzheimer’s Association.


Patricia Young works with Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) helping them understand their HSP traits, and turning their perceived shortcomings into superpowers. Patricia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who is passionate about providing education to help HSPs and non-HSPs understand and truly appreciate the amazing gifts they have to offer. Patricia works globally online with HSPs providing coaching. Patricia also facilitates online groups for HSPs that focus on building community and developing skills (identifying your superpowers, boundaries, perfectionism, dealing with conflict, mindfulness, embracing emotions, creating a lifestyle that supports the HSP, communication and more).


Dr. Acevedo

Patricia’s Links

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Music-- Gravel Dance by Andy Robinson