From Moving Objects with our Brain to Re-building Gray Matter



For those who attended the first Howell Luncheon of the year, Dr. Coleman introduced the concept of translating brain signals into data that allows concrete --and at some point -- life-saving actions for healthcare providers. The summary of the presentation provides a brief insight into the advancements of utilizing technology as applied to the medical sciences.

It is commonly said that a "healthy mind is a healthy life".  Many healthcare professionals can't stress enough the health benefits of good nutrition and exercising -- and that includes exercising the brain.  It's about keeping our cognitive functions sharp.   Among the many commonly used phrases, my favorite will always be "the brain is a muscle..  exercise it!" --especially if you happen to have teenagers around!

But on a serious note, and on the subject of keeping our brain healthy, recent research shows that meditation helps build and maintain the gray matter in your brain.  According to this article from the Harvard Gazette, "The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection".

The Howell Foundation hosted Integrative Psychiatrist and Wellness Physician, Dr. Tahir Bhatti, who finalized his lecture with a practical and easy way to meditate:

  • Place right hand over your belly and left on top of right, while breathing in and out. 
  • Breathe in and out with your eyes closed, and follow your breath. 
  • Repeat in your mind who and what you are grateful for.
  • Acknowledge thoughts, feelings or sensations that come to mind.   Name them, let them go and go back to focusing on your breath.

More information on how meditation can not only help you beat stress but might promote gray matter in your brain can be found here.

As National Brain Awareness weeks comes  to an end, here are 12 facts about our brain:
  1. Lack of oxygen in the brain for 5 to 10 minutes results in permanent brain damage. 
  2. New brain connections are created every time you form a memory. 
  3. Your brain keeps developing until your late 40s. 
  4. Your brain uses 20% of the total oxygen and blood in your body. 
  5. There's a virus that attacks human DNA making people less intelligent, impairing brain activity, learning and memory. 
  6. When awake, the human brain produces enough electricity to power a small lightbulb. 
  7. Violent homes have the same effect on children's brains as combat on soldiers.
  8. Dieting could force your brain to eat itself.
  9. Forgetting is good for the brain: deleting unnecessary information helps the nervous system retain its plasticity. 
  10. When you learn something new, the structure of your brain changes.  For example, “Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia" is the scientific term for brain freeze.
  11. It only takes 6 minutes for brain cells to react to alcohol.
  12. There is no left brain/right brain divide. It's a myth. They work together.
For more fun facts about our brain, this article promises to be a light read.


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About the Doris A. Howell Foundation:

The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research is committed to keeping the women we love healthy, advancing women’s health through research and educating women to be catalysts for improving family health in the community.


The organization does so by funding scholarships to scientists researching issues affecting women’s health; providing a forum for medical experts, scientists, doctors, researchers, and authors to convey the timely information on topics relevant to women’s health and the health. of their families through its Lecture and Evening Series, and by funding research initiatives that will create women’s health awareness and advocacy in the community.


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Sources: 

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001435.htm
  2. http://psychology.about.com/od/memory/ss/ten-facts-about-memory_9.htm
  3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/8204782/Brain-only-fully-matures-in-middle-age-claims-neuroscientist.html
  4. http://www.pnas.org/content/99/16/10237.full
  5. http://www.newsweek.com/american-researchers-discover-stupidity-virus-283319
  6. http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/science/your-amazing-brain/
  7. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2070226/Violent-homes-effect-brains-children-combat-does-soldiers.html
  8. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/8677200/Dieting-forces-brain-to-eat-itself-scientists-claim.html
  9. http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=139935&CultureCode=en
  10. http://sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/02/26/brain-plasticity-how-learning-changes-your-brain/ & http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130522095335.htm 
  11. http://ideas.time.com/2013/11/29/there-is-no-left-brainright-brain-divide/
  12. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615144339.htm
Photo from Shutterstock images. 

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