Friday, February 3, 2012

Healthy brain, healthy life


It’s never too late to change your brain. That was the key message at the Jan. 19 Senior HealthWISE “Boost Your Brain Power” event, where MGH neurologist Marie Pasinski, MD, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd about the importance of keeping the brain healthy, vibrant and resilient. “Your brain is very dynamic. It’s constantly changing and making new connections,” Pasinski said. “It has the ability to make new brain cells throughout your life. It truly is your most important organ.”

The key to enhancing brain power is to increase neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to remodel itself. Pasinski, author of Beautiful Brain, Beautiful You: Look Radiant from the Inside Out by Empowering Your Mind, presented three key methods that can be introduced into one’s daily life to help with this process.

Indulge in the new: “This is the use it or lose it mindset,” Pasinski said. “You have to do more than puzzles or Sudoku because if you keep doing them, it’s no longer challenging the brain. Take up a new activity and make it a truly educational experience. Learning physically changes the brain.” For example, an artist who tends to use the right side of the brain should try a new computer program or play chess to challenge the analytical side of the brain.

Commit to exercise: “Exercise is one of the most important, wonderful things you can do for your brain. It increases brain blood flow which promotes the growth of new neurons and synapses. It also improves mood, lessens anxiety and decreases the risk of dementia,” Pasinski said.

Socialize the mind: “Your brain is designed to socialize,” Pasinski said. “Seek out a new group of people with similar interests, or catch up with an old friend to keep the brain involved and engaged. The way you use your brain determines its structure – and it’s never too late to think about changing your brain for the better.”

For more information about MGH Senior HealthWISE, call 617-724-6756. 

Read more articles from the 02/03/12 Hotline issue.

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