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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Daniel Amen

Magnificent Mind TV Debut

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“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

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

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Written by Derrick Walker

November 10, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Alcohol is Not a Health Food : by Dr. Daniel Amen

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“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.

Alcohol is Not a Health Food

CNN recently reported on a new study that confirms what I have seen on SPECT scans for a long time – alcohol is not a health food! Any amount of alcohol can decrease brain size. I like to say when it comes to the brain, size matters. People who drink alcohol — even the moderate amounts that help prevent heart disease — have a smaller brain volume than those who do not, according to a study in the Archives of Neurology.

While a certain amount of brain shrinkage is normal with age, greater amounts in some parts of the brain have been linked to dementia. “Decline in brain volume — estimated at 2 percent per decade — is a natural part of aging,” says Carol Ann Paul, who conducted the study when she was at the Boston University School of Public Health. She had hoped to find that alcohol might protect against such brain shrinkage. “However, we did not find the protective effect,” says Paul, who is now an instructor in the neuroscience program at Wellesley College. “In fact, any level of alcohol consumption resulted in a decline in brain volume.”

In the study, Paul and colleagues looked at 1,839 healthy people with an average age of about 61. The patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and reported how much they tippled. Overall, the more alcohol consumed, the smaller the brain volume, with abstainers having a higher brain volume than former drinkers, light drinkers (one to seven drinks per week), moderate drinkers (eight to 14 drinks per week), and heavy drinkers (14 or more drinks per week). Men were more likely to be heavy drinkers than women. But the link between brain volume and alcohol wasn’t as strong in men. For men, only those who were heavy drinkers had a smaller brain volume than those who consumed little or no alcohol.

In women, even moderate drinkers had a smaller brain volume than abstainers or former drinkers. It’s not clear why even modest amounts of alcohol may shrink the brain, although alcohol is “known to dehydrate tissues, and constant dehydration can have negative effects on any sensitive tissue,” says Paul. “We always knew that alcohol at higher dosages results in shrinking of the brain and cognitive deficit,” says Dr. Petros Levounis, M.D., director of the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Luke’s — Roosevelt Hospital Center, who was not involved in the study. “What is new with this article is that it shows brain shrinking at lower doses of alcohol.”

Less is better.

To your brain health,

Daniel

Daniel Amen, M.D.
CEO, Amen Clinics, Inc.
Distinguished Fellow, American Psychiatric Association
Dr. Amen’s Blog – Recent Articles
Hold the Video Games
Alcohol Is Not A Health Food
Large Review Finds St. John’s Wort As Effective As Standard Antidepressants
A Magnificent Mind Can Be Yours/Part 3 of 6
Unbelievable! Read the Labels
Dr. Amen’s Upcoming Appearances
A Magnificent Mind at Any Age  
October 25, 2008 
KCTS 9 Studios,  Seattle, WA  More…

A Magnificent Mind at Any Age  
October 25, 2008 
Seattle Act Theatre,  Seattle, WA  More…

16th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine & Regenerative Biomedical Technologies
December 11, 2008  – December 14, 2008
Venetian Hotel,  Las Vegas, Nevada  More…

The Learning Brain Expo  
January 16, 2009  – January 19, 2009
Newport Beach Marriott Hotel,  Newport Beach, CA  More…

Magnificent Mind At Any Age  
January 25, 2009 
Orpheum Theatre,  Phoenix, AZ  More…

(IITAP) International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals Symposium  
February 19, 2009  – February 21, 2009
TBD,  Phoenix, AZ  More…

California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists  
April 30, 2009  – May 03, 2009
The Fairmont Hotel,  San Jose, CA  More…
ADD Resources November Conference
Date: November 1, 2008
Keynote speaker: William Dodson, MD
Location: Smith Hall – University of Washington – Seattle Campus
Continuing Education Credits: available for Psychologists, Social Workers, and Licensed Practicing Counselors
 
“Brain In The News” is offered as a free service to educate people on how the brain relates to our behavior. You can see over 300 color 3D brain SPECT images at www.brainplace.com. You can subscribe for free at www.amenclinics.com

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Copyright 2008, Amen Clinics Inc., A Medical Corporation. All rights reserved.

CLINIC LOCATIONS

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Written by Derrick Walker

October 23, 2008 at 4:06 pm