Advancing Wellness

in Salt Lake City, Utah

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Magnificent Mind TV Debut

leave a comment »

“Brain in the News” is a weekly commentary on how brain science relates to the news. The brain is involved in everything we do. Wherever there are human stories the brain is involved. From the impact of war and natural disasters on the brain to drug abuse scandals to courtroom dramas to politics the brain is in the news, and you can read about it here.

Magnificent Mind TV Debut

As I’ve shared, my new book, Magnificent Mind At Any Age, is coming out 12/2/09.  Last weekend my new PBS special on this book debuted on KQED in San Francisco and the response was overwhelming!  The TV special will begin airing across North America in December, please check your local PBS listings for times and dates.

Here is another sample of what you can expect in the book… 

Increase Your Brain’s Reserve   

Have you ever wondered why certain stresses or injuries affect some people and not others?  I have.  I have wondered why some people get depressed after losing a parent while others, although sad, keep going; why some people, after a minor head injury, seem to really be affected, while others don’t; or why some people can work many hours straight, while others are completely spent after a short period of time.  Several years ago, after looking at many thousands of brain scans, I started to think about the concept of “brain reserve.”  Brain reserve is the cushion, margin or extra neurons that we have to deal with unexpected events or insults.  The more reserve we have, the more stresses or injuries we can handle.  The less reserve, the more vulnerable we are. 

When we are conceived, let’s say, we all start with the same reserve.  Many things can erode it, many things can boost it.  For example, if your mother smoked, drank much alcohol or was under constant stress when she was pregnant with you, she decreased your brain’s reserve.  If she took fish oil, listened to classical music and mediated every day, likely she increased your reserve.  If you fell down a flight of stairs at age three, were exposed to chronic stress from an alcoholic mother or father during childhood, were sexually molested as a child or teenager, drank too much alcohol or used drugs you decreased or limited your brain’s reserve.  On the other hand, if you were fed a healthy diet, took fish oil, were raised by loving, consistent parents and were exposed to many different kinds of learning your brain’s reserve was likely increased.    

Anything that harms brain function, starts to erode your brain’s reserve.  Here are some factors known to decrease brain reserve…

  • Prenatal or birth injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Drug abuse
  • Negative thinking
  • Poor diet
  • Environmental toxins
  • Chronic stress
  • Lack of sleep/sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Excessive caffeine
  • Too much television or violent video games
  • Lack of exercise 

Likewise, maintaining a brain healthy life will increase your reserve or hardiness to deal with pending stresses or trouble.  I always want to be increasing my brain reserve, to deal with the crises that inevitably will come my way.  Here are a number of ways to do it…

  • Positive social connections
  • New learning
  • Healthy diet
  • A daily multiple vitamin
  • Fish oil
  • Learning music
  • Regular exercise
  • Dancing (of course, without drinking)
  • Positive thinking
  • Gratitude
  • Meditation 

If you wish to stay healthy during stressful times, you need adequate brain reserve.  Start working today to add more neurons to your life.  

To your brain health!


Daniel Amen, M.D.
CEO, Amen Clinics, Inc.
Distinguished Fellow, American Psychiatric Association

Written by Derrick Walker

November 10, 2008 at 3:18 pm