What exactly is Brain Reserve?

Brain reserve refers to a brain that has formed many cellular connections and is rich in brain cell density. The power of brain reserve is that we believe it has the ability to delay the clinical onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Simply put, AD will have to work longer and harder to manifest itself if it invades a brain that has built up reserve.

I often use the example of a brain that looks like a jungle versus one that looks like an island with one palm tree. In this example, the brain that looks like a jungle is the healthy brain because it has tremendous cellular connections like the density of a jungle and therefore brain reserve. If you think of AD as a weed whacker, it will invade the brain and begin to do its damage by destroying brain cells. However, it will take AD a long time to show any impact if it has to destroy a jungle’s worth of brain cell connections. In contrast, AD will manifest quickly after infiltration into the brain if it simply needs to destroy only a relatively few cellular connections (the island with one plam tree).

Brain reserve is developed over the lifespan as one exposes his or her brain to the novel and complex, the enriched environment on a daily basis. A Brain Health Lifestyle that involves Mental Stimulation (e.g. brain games), Physical Activity, Spirituality, Socialization, and Nutrition can help to build up brain reserve and maintain a healthy brain.

Dr. Paul Nussbaum, Fit Brains and Brain Health

Hello, I am Dr. Paul Nussbaum, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Fit Brains, and I am happy to introduce myself to the Ft Brains’ community.  My background is in clinical neuropsychology, and I specialize in brain health and aging across the lifespan.  Currently, I maintain an Adjunct Associate Professorship in Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

This is my first posting, and I will be bogging weekly. In the days to come, I plan on covering many subjects in the area of brain health and fitness. This will include insight into our new Fit Brains brain games, tools and features.  Today’s blog will be the first part in this series.

Your Brain Health

The single greatest system ever designed in the history of the universe is your brain. Your brain is responsible for your every thought, emotion, and behavior. Unfortunately we humans do not know much about our brains and it is time to change that.

Brain Basics:

1. Your brain weighs 2 to 4 pounds.

2. Your brain is comprised of 60% fat and is the fattiest system in your body.

3. Your brain consumes 25% of the blood from every heartbeat.

4. Your brain has two sides or hemispheres (left hemisphere and right hemisphere).

  • Left hemisphere helps you with language, detail, and analysis

  • Right hemisphere helps you with faces, spatial orientation, sounds.

5. Your brain has a Cortex and Subcortex.

  • Your Cortex is conscious and helps you learn, remember, communicate, Read, write, orient to space, process sensory information, and personality.

  • Your Subcortex processes subconscious motor or procedural behaviors such as dressing, driving, and typing on your computer.

  • Your Cortex and Subcortex interact as a beautiful symphony.

6. Your hippocampus is the structure in your brain (sits in the middle of each temporal lobe just under each temple on your skull) that enables you to learn.

New Ideas about Your Brain:

  • The human brain (like the animal brain) can generate new brain cells. This new brain cell development (neurogenesis) occurs in the hippocampus.

  • The human brain is now thought to have “neural plasticity” or be a system that is highly dynamic, constantly reorganizing, and malleable. It is shaped by environmental input.

  • Our brains need exposure to environments that are enriched, complex and novel. Environments that are passive and rote do not help the health of your brain.

  • Exposure to enriched environments across your lifespan will lead to new brain cell development and increased cellular connections (“Synaptic Density”). Synaptic Density or Brain Reserve may help to delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and related dementias.


  • Glossary of Brain Terms

Fit Brains-bringing brain fitness to the mainstream

Hello and welcome to the first official Fit Brains’ blog! Let me introduce myself.  I am Michael Cole, the founder and CEO of Vivity Labs, creator of Fit Brains.

Fit Brains is developing a web experience that will be the first of its kind, appealing to adults of all ages and will elevate the concept and acceptance of brain fitness to the mainstream.  We will do this through a unique combination of interactive brain games, personalization tools and community features.  Our team understands that the key ingredient for mass adoption of brain fitness will be the “fun factor”, and is developing scientifically based workouts that are engaging and fun.

Among other topics, the Fit Brains blog will discuss recent brain health news, allowing our readers to stay up-to-date on the latest developments.  In addition, guest bloggers who are experts in their respective fields, will contribute to the discussions.

Stay tuned – Fit Brains will be adding a lot of exiciting brain games and features in the weeks ahead.  I invite you to become an active member and help grow the Fit Brains community.  Technorati Profile , Follow us on Twitter