Monthly Archives: April 2009

Spring into Healthy Lifestyle

Spring is a great time of the year as the winter season ends and new life emerges all around. For those of us who live in the winter belt it is quite refreshing to see the blue sky, the sunshine and absorb our vitamin D!

Spring is also a time for introspection and for beginning new behaviors to promote our own health. Brain health is such an important area and one that everyone can begin to focus with the new season. Perhaps with the advent of spring you can try the following to get started on your brain health lifestyle:

1.    Walk daily at least 30 minutes or 10,000 steps (purchase a pedometer to help keep count).

2.    Increase your intake of fish, fruits and vegetables.

3.    Tell someone you are sorry or forgive another where there may be some conflict.

4.    Engage in two tasks that are novel and complex.

5.    Reduce your stress by giving yourself free time this spring season.

6.    Try to do one group activity a week.

These are not too difficult and they will help to promote your general health and brain health for the 2009 year.

Good luck.

Spirituality and Brain Health

Spirituality has many meanings and it may mean something different to different people. I am  referring to spirituality as one means of turning inward to a peaceful existence and to remove oneself from the hurried society that is modern life.  Prayer/worship, meditation, and relaxation procedures are just three examples of spirituality.

Early research on the human brain exposed to life threatening stressors indicates there is similar damage to the hippocampus as is known to exist in animals. Also, humans with chronic anxiety have memory problems again supporting the negative effect of stress and uncontrolled anxiety on brain function.

Research and surveys have reported the following positive effects of spirituality on health:

  • An enhanced immune system, the system that helps you defend against colds, flu, and other illnesses.
    Reports of longer, happier and healthier lives.
  • As part of the daily routine while in the hospital relates to an earlier discharge.
  • According to a past Parade Magazine Survey, 95% of the physicians in the U.S. believe spirituality is   important to the well-being of their patients.

to learn more about more about Spirituality and Brain Health

Single Brain Cell may Help Paralysis

Recent research on monkeys indicates one brain cell may have the power to restore voluntary movement of paralyzed muscles. Nearly every neuron tested by scientists demonstrated the ability to activate muscles immobilized by drugs in monkeys.

Some suggest that if a monkey can learn how to harness the power of a single neuron to activate muscles that have paralysis, the effect should be even more powerful in humans. This research finding has significant implications for the hundreds of thousands of people with spinal cord injuries annually.

It is thought that some types of spinal cord injuries result in paralysis in which the person is fully conscious inside a body that does not respond to commands. While the brain activity that would normally result in voluntary movement is still present, the directions for such movement do not reach the muscle.

The current research on monkey brain cells suggests a potential therapeutic mechanism by bypassing the type of nerve damage that can result in such paralysis. The brain can learn to control new cells and use them to generate movements quickly. Creating electrical stimulation from new neuronal activation in muscles that are paralyzed represents a future oriented treatment direction for those who suffer paralysis.

Mind over Matter

When I present my keynote address on Brain Health I try to provide the audience with a glimpse of how complicated and miraculous the human brain really is. I typically make a statement that one day the human brain will be able to fix the maladies of the human body and that one day the human brain will communicate with other brains without opening the mouth.

While this may sound a bit science fiction I believe it to be true. A recent report provides yet more support for where our planet is heading. The automaker Honda has been funding research and development into the ability of the human brain via thoughts to relay commands to a robot that will alter the function of the car. If one wants the air conditioner turned on he or she can complete this by simply thinking the wish and the brain signals will trigger a robot mechanism to make the command happen.

In the near or distant future we will be able to conduct our basic daily functions from mental energies that will enable a much more efficient use of time and energy. It represents a true technological advancement based from the brain. Ultimately, this use of energy will be from brain to brain.