Brain Health by YOU: Positive Psychology

The next belief about neuroplasticity to be disproven was that the brain of any animal was far too complex to accommodate the birth of new cells, neurogenesis. When a new dye (BrdU) could discriminate the new cells that were born in the brains of lower animals, it was still clear to scientists that human brains could not accommodate new cells. The thinking was that humans were too involved in such complex thinking as how to solve the economy; any new brain cells would just confuse such complex thinking. This dye, BrdU, was not considered safe in humans so this belief did not die. The rule of thumb was that you were born with more brain cells than remained viable. Use them or lose them was the concept. I reframed that for you earlier in Positive Psychology: USE THEM AND THEY WILL GROW.

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing; the study and application of what it takes for people and communities to adapt and thrive; and the study of building the best things in life. That’s the focus of evolving neuroscience you will be reading here.

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Brain Health by YOU: Learn & Grow.

That brings us to a guiding principle that will persist throughout this series of articles on Brain Health: By the time you do every evidence-based thing that has been associated with improving your brain chemistry, architecture and performance, probably the only side effects will be improvements in your general health. Is this permissible?

If so, you might be a powerful role model for contributing to the effort suggested by Brookmeyer and colleagues who predict that, if all we do is delay the onset of dementia by one year, we could have 9,200,000 fewer cases of dementia in the world by 2050. Surely the timing is urgent to make every feasible effort to improve Brain Health in ways that could also improve your physical health and wellbeing.

How can you help? Read Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice on brain health. Learn. Do. Be a role model of many ways to improve your own Brain Health by YOU.

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Brain Health by YOU: Use Them and They Will Grow?

Early researchers soon learned that the benefits for rats that lived in an enriched environment included an increase in the complexity of the branching of their dendrites as well as an increase in the spines on their dendrites. The enriched environmental impact improved their brain’s chemistry, architecture and performance … their memory and ability to learn also improved as a benefit of living in an enriched environment. These encouraging findings were found in research with rats, cats, birds, monkeys and humans. Essential components of an enriched environment included social interactions made possible by having as many as twelve animals in one large cage. It also required a variety of “toys” that were changed every few weeks affording the opportunity for complex new learning.
Watching the complex new learning and socialization from an impoverished environment in an adjacent cage did not result in these benefits to the brains of the observers. To paraphrase while using caution is generalizing to humans from lower animals, the evidence suggests it’s not enough to watch, you must do. Furthermore, you benefit from having friends nearby who are also pursuing complex new learning.
Use Your Brain Cells and They Will Grow …

Joyce Shaffer, PhD, is a psychologist, nurse, speaker, global bicyclist and author. Nothing she writes or says is intended as health care advice; take science to your healthcare provider for guidance on earning your own Ideal Aging®. Dr. Joyce is a co-founder and collaborator in promoting Brain Health by YOU for the sole purpose of improving Brain Health anywhere on the globe.

How can you help? Read Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice. It is a focus on brain health. Learn. Do.
Be a role model of many ways to improve your own Brain Health by YOU.

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Brain Health by YOU: An Important Point

If you have read previous article(s) of this series, welcome back on this journey focused on “Enriching Heredity,” the title of the book by the mother or neuroplasticity, Marian Diamond.
Now the fun begins as we fit the empowering advances of neuroscience into the culture and lifestyle of ourselves and of those we seek to serve. To help us with that, check back here often for the latest and greatest of evolving neuroscience for the health of it.
Early research on neuroplasticity disproved the long-held belief of scientists that brains are hard-wired to live by the rules of genetic inheritance. Early studies focused on the architecture of the brain cells. A description of the brain cell, or neuron, can help flesh that out. A rounded spot near the center can represent the cell body. Extending out from the sides and bottom of the cell body are the dendrites. The several branches of the dendrites bring information into the cell body from somewhere in your body by way of an electrical charge that goes through the dendrites contributing to the formation of memories in spines that build up on the dendrites over time. Also, an electrical charge goes out through the axon, projecting from the top of the cell, to carry the message forward to the next cell. Important point: your brain cells need that electrical charge. Use them and they will grow.

Joyce Shaffer, PhD, is a psychologist, nurse, speaker, global bicyclist and author. Nothing she writes or says is intended as health care advice; take science to your healthcare provider and fashion your own Ideal Aging®.

Also, read Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice, her article on brain health. Learn. Do.
Be a role model of many ways to improve your own Brain Health by YOU.

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Brain Health by YOU: The Mother of Neuroplasticity

If you have read Brain Health International, the first article of this series, welcome back on this journey focused on “Enriching Heredity,” the title of the book by the mother or neuroplasticity, Marian Diamond. Her YouTube video, Older Brains, New Connections, is so invaluable that it is a regular homework assignment in my work.
Marian Diamond was the first to flesh out how much could be accomplished in brain plasticity at any age. Just by having technicians hold and talk to their rats she found that neuroplasticity was driven in a positive direction along with a 50% increase in the lifespan of rats to the equivalent of 90 human years AND the same brain gains were observed across their entire rat lifespan!
Diamond predicted that humans could appreciate the same brain gains at any age; research presented here is just a beginning of sharing some cutting-edge neuroscience that has proven her prediction to be spot on. Now the fun begins as we fit the empowering advances of neuroscience into the culture and lifestyle of ourselves and of those we seek to serve. To help us with that, check back here often for the latest and greatest of evolving neuroscience for the health of it.
Remember that nothing I ever write is intended to be healthcare advice. Remember to learn as much as you can from evolving neuroscience and work with your healthcare provider to design your unique goals and strategies for achieving your own positively evolving personal best.

Joyce Shaffer, PhD, is a psychologist, nurse, speaker, global bicyclist and author. She is a co-founder and collaborator in promoting Brain Health by YOU for the sole purpose of improving Brain Health anywhere on the globe; this is in response to the prediction that, if ALL we do is delay onset one year, we could have 9,200,000 fewer cases of dementia in 2050.
How can you help? Read Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice on Brain Health. Learn. Do. Be a role model of many ways to improve your own Brain Health by YOU.

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Brain Health by YOU

Brain Health by YOU
Brain Health International

It is my passion, privilege and pleasure to interpret evolving neuroscience for the purpose of empowering all interested parties to enhance your brain health. There is so much to say about how far neuroscience has come that my plan is to provide a series of articles on the joy of sharing this news and the progress of our work to form a Brain Health International Rotary Action Group.
For starters, we are gifted to be alive in the age of technology which brings us unprecedented hope that we might enjoy “Enriching Heredity,” the title of a book by Marian Diamond, by using evidence-based interventions. Hope and other positive perspectives can help foster brain health; let’s begin there.
The Alzheimer’s/Dementia Rotary Action Group and Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, of Harvard have a goal to end dementia. Learn more about that at ADRAG.org.
As the database for ending dementia grows, we have other sources of hope. According to Brookmeyer, if all we do is delay the onset of dementia by one year, we could have nearly 9,200,000 fewer cases by 2050. Surely that makes improving brain health a top priority worldwide!
Is delay possible?
I need to emphasize a few things. First, nothing I write is healthcare advice. I am simply sharing evolving neuroscience for you to use at your discretion, preferably with counsel from your healthcare provider. Remember that even the gold standard research studies, random controlled trials, are still only probability statements that pertain to the population studied. The hope is that you will find something within the data provided in everything I write that will make your heart sing as you do everything you choose to do to maximize your brain health and the brain health of those you love and serve.
Our Brain Health International efforts are a complement to the ADRAG.org aim in that we inform people about evolving research as a way to empower you to design your own unique way to use neuroscience to become Outliers, the term Malcolm Gladwell used for individuals that exceed expectations. My belief that I can enhance my Brain Power by doing those things research has associated with vigorous physical and mental longevity motivates and energizes my use of everything that I read, know and teach. However, just to be clear, the ONLY promise I make is this: I will share all empowering neuroscience I can manage to read on using Positive Psychology to drive neuroplasticity in a positive direction for the health of it.
The background begins with Marian Diamond because she was the first to flesh out how much could be accomplished in brain plasticity at any age. We can think of her as the Mother of Neuroplasticity. When she reported to the scientific community on finding, across the lifeline of her laboratory rats, increased brain volume, increased brain cell complexity AND improved brain performance as a result of living in an enriched environment, she said these benefits occurred even in the elderly. Another researcher in the audience responded with: “Young Lady, you cannot claim that your rats are elderly because ours live” to be much older than your rats.
On returning to her lab, the only change she made was having technicians hold and talk to their rats. Let’s consider that the first use of Positive Psychology to drive neuroplasticity in a positive direction because the lifespan of their rats increased by 50% to the equivalent of 90 human years AND the same brain gains were observed across their entire rat lifespan!
Thus, your first fun and energizing homework assignment is to watch Marian Diamond: Older Brains, New Connections on YouTube. All homework assignments are volitional; this one is likely to leave you grinning and making plans for how you will enrich your life going forward. Diamond predicted that humans could appreciate the same brain gains at any age; stay tuned for cutting-edge neuroscience that has proven her prediction to be spot on. Then let us work together to fit the empowering advances in neuroscience into the culture and lifestyle of yourself and of those you seek to serve.

References
Diamond, Marian. (1988). Enriching Heredity: The Impact of the Environment on the Anatomy of the Brain. New York: The Free Press.
Diamond, Marian & Janet Hopson. (1999). Magic Trees of the Mind: How to Nurture Your Child’s Intelligence, Creativity and Healthy Emotions from Birth through Adolescence. New York: Plume.
Diamond, M., Johnson, R, Protti, A., Ott, C & Kajisa L. (1984). Plasticity in the 904-day-old male rat cerebral cortex. Experimental Neurology, 87, 309-317.
Gladwell, Malcolm. (2011). Outliers: The Story of Success.

Joyce Shaffer, PhD, is a psychologist, nurse, speaker, global bicyclist and author. She is a co-founder and collaborator in developing Brain Health by YOU for the sole purpose of improving brain health anywhere on our good globe; this is in response to the prediction that a delay of only one year in being diagnosed with dementia could significantly reduce the number of people suffering with loss of cognitive performance and independent functioning.
It was at a Rotary lunch in Bellevue, WA, USA that Joyce met her colleague, Dr. Liliana Alberto, MD, a retired physician. Together, the psychologist and physician conferred on, strategized and activated their strategic efforts to educate and motivate Rotarians, clinicians and all other people that are interested in evidence-based interventions that might improve the brain health of YOU as well as the people you care for, love and support. Liliana has been teaching from this database in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil.
How can you help?
Go to FrontiersIn.org AND search for Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice by Joyce Shaffer. Download that article. Read it. Use it. Share it. Learn. Do. Be a role model of many ways to improve your own Brain Health by YOU.
Great gifts for the health of it! Could be free!

Neuroplasticity is the capacity of your brain to change, for better or for worse, in response to your internal and external experiences.

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing; the study and application of what it takes for people and communities to adapt and thrive; and the study of building the best things in life.

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Brain Power 2020

Researchers bring us two perspectives on enhancing intelligence. Neuroplasticity can be influenced in a positive direction to improve brain power!”

 

In animal research Marian Diamond described what rats did to enhance their brain power by being active in an enriched environment. Watching from a neighboring cage did not give rats better brain power. Activity was essential.”

 

Then when they held and talked to her rats, their lifespan increased 50% to the equivalent of 90 years of human age. Throughout this period of enrichment with added positive psychology, her rats continued to show improvements in brain chemistry, architecture and performance. Thus, Marian Diamond found that, even to the equivalent of 90 years of human age, her rats enjoyed vigorous longevity while they were “Enriching Heredity.” She believed that humans could earn these same benefits of increasing brain power, of “enriching heredity.” Watch Marian Diamond’s YouTube video, “Older Brains, New Connections” for her brilliant presentation on this topic.

 

In human research James Flynn found that we are making massive IQ gains from one generation to another. This has been documented in over thirty countries around the world. Flynn is not saying we’re born with better brains but that we are developing brain power that makes it possible for us to deal with an increasingly complex modern world that includes working with problems of economic development.

 

Taken together, the research of Diamond and Flynn suggests:
That taking an active role in solving environmental challenges can help build better brain power AND
That tender touch and talk could significantly increase the probability that you can “enrich heredity” for a brain-span that exceeds your lifespan.

 

Brain Power 2020 blogs will explore ways we can influence neuroplasticity to build better brain power.

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3rd World Congress on Positive Psychology

Combining Neuroplasticity and Positive Psychology in Clinical Practice to Increase Positive Development across the Lifespan, was the title of my Conversation Hour and Poster presentations at the 3rd World Congress on Positive Psychology. This focus on personal empowerment at any age was greatly appreciated by this group of more than 1200 attendees from 54 countries!

         
As I emphasized there, we need a science-based discussion by informed scientists to increase awareness of benefits of integrating brain-plasticity based strategies into positive psychology to add dignity to aging, emphasize science-based ways to maximize human potential, and enhance evolving human intelligence with vigorous longevity.

 

We can afford people unprecedented hope for Positive Development across the Lifespan when including neuroplastic-based interventions. Neuroplastic gains with 50% increased lifespan were demonstrated when rats were held and spoken to in the research lab of Marian Diamond. These lab rats were “enriching heredity” throughout the human equivalent of 90 years. Marian Diamond is one of several researchers who believe humans can achieve similar gains at any age.

 

Increasingly studies in humans find improvements in brain chemistry, architecture and performance associated with lifestyle choices. Using touch, talk, education and other positive psychology techniques clinicians can enhance this trend toward better functioning, greater well-being and heightened motivation to make healthy lifestyle choices that can drive brain plasticity in a positive direction.

 

The gains of this integrative approach can exceed the sum of the component parts when interventions target brain sites considered most vulnerable to the so-called “normal decline of aging”. Thomas Insel’s call to facilitate the profound shift in how we promote mental health is urgent with the global trend of humans living longer.

 
Stay tuned for further details on Brain Power 2020 and contemplating how we could enhance it.

Dr. Joyce

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Thomas Jefferson University Nurses Enjoyed News about Cocoa & Other Brain Foods.

Today I had the privilege of sharing some of the exciting new neuroscience with a crowd of wonderful nurses at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. They asked brilliant questions AND gave learned answers. In the brief hour over lunch we explored some of the latest research on Cocoa & Other Brain Foods. I send a special “Thank YOU” to that erudite audience for being excited about Ideal Aging and how you can increase brain power.

 

Since the latest neuroscience is too exciting to rush through, this will only be the beginning of a series on that topic. My latest eBook on Kindle with this same name addresses Cocoa and Other Brain Foods in greater depth.

 

Before we proceed, let me explore the issue of bias. First, as a speaker and a writer my requirement is to give you science or give you silence. Second, it has never been possible for anyone to read the entire library; with the ever-increasing explosion of information available online, it’s no longer possible to read the entire database on a niche. Thus, no matter the length of a writing, there’s more that can be said AND I welcome additions/corrections to what is written here.

 

That being said, let’s make a modest beginning. At the end of this series you will have information on 1) Basic nutritional needs for ideal brain chemistry, architecture and performance; 2) Medical issues that can compromise brain fitness; and 3) Foods that can address these issues.

 

Basic nutritional needs for ideal brain chemistry, architecture and performance are many and varied. This writing will only address the first of those.

 

Carbohydrates (CHO) are essential as the major energy source for your brain because they most readily metabolize into the kind of fuel you need to carry on. And your brain accounts for ~20% of your total metabolic activity even at rest. Also, carbohydrates are the cleanest source of fuel. However, the normal metabolic process creates reactive oxygen species (ROS) which can cause oxidative damage; it also creates advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Both are associated with unhealthy aging. The greatest damage caused by AGES is cross-linking of proteins which does damage within cells as well as causing apoptosis. The various diseases that AGEs contribute to include chronic inflammatory diseases such as periodontitis, neurodegenerative diseases, retinopathy, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and others. Although AGEs accumulate in tissues through normal metabolism, certain factors increase their accumulation.

 

Scientists are exploring methods of clearing the AGEs from the human body. Research has not yet found a way to undo the damage of cross-linking which results in less flexible tissues in your body. This is only one of the many reasons for avoiding refined sugars such as fructose.

 

Stay tuned for additional new neuroscience on CHO, ROS, AGEs and Cocoa & Other Brain Foods. Thank you for your interest in Ideal Aging, enhancing brain power, and vigorous longevity!

 

Dr. Joyce

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What Is Brain Power 2020?

axons-smWhat is Brain Power 2020?

Clarity.

Brain power 2020 is seeing clearly; remembering more; having better judgment; making the best decisions; thinking quickly; continually enjoying increasingly complicated new learning; being so happy in your mission and purpose that time evaporates; celebrating progress; and using your knowledge with such efficiency that your personal best keeps evolving to be even better across time. It’s thinking fast on the go so you simply get more out of life. It’s the laughter, real, shared or simulated (Mora-Ripoll, 2011) that promotes and celebrates health.

It’s mastering the balance between independence and interdependence so that the bulk of your time is enjoyed in the midst of a supportive crowd that thrives on being the wind beneath each other’s wings.

It is juice! It results in you feeling better about yourself; having better energy; and looking forward with confidence to the next bend in your life’s highway.

It is enjoying enhancing your personal best.

Dr. Joyce

 

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