The Best Brain Advice From The Brain Experts

shutterstock_85544854I recently asked a group of some the most knowledgeable leaders in brain fitness movement- I mean these guys are at the forefront of educating us on brain health and using our brains to achieve  wellness and happiness – what their #1 advice would be to someone about taking care of their brain.

You might expect their answers would include serious diet modifications, major lifestyle changes, or some rigorous mental exercise program, eh?  But no.  I think their responses will surprise you because every single piece of advice is something you can easily do today, on your own, without making drastic changes, or spending money.


Dr. Michael Merzenich, PhD is the brain behind BrainHQ and the author of Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life.  For nearly five decades, he has been a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research. As co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Posit Science, Dr. Merzenich heads the company’s science team.

First, you have to BELIEVE you can change for the better, and you have to believe that your brain is plastic. Second, you have to live your life with your brain turned ON. Engage with the world, challenge yourself, choose activities that benefit the brain like those that engage multiple modalities at a time. You can be better, stronger, and more effective, regardless of your current neurological status.  Dr. Michael Merzenich

Dr. Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a neuropsychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author.  His books include Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, and Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time.

Our brains are naturally wired to focus on bad news and are very good at building structure from negative experiences.  While our brains can change for the better from beneficial experiences, it generally increases this encoding process to deliberately sustain, intensify, and highlight the emotional and sensate aspects of these experiences.  By training the brain to look for good facts, turn these into good experiences, and then – most important – really internalize these experiences, a person will steepen their growth curve in life, and develop more happiness, love, confidence, and peace.  Dr. Rick Hanson

Barbara Arrowsmith Young is Founder and Director of the Arrowsmith Program, a cognitive program utilizing neuroplasticity for students with learning disabilities. The program is based on Arrowsmith Young’s personal experience of living with learning disabilities which she details in her book The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: How I Left My Learning Disability Behind and Other Stories of Cognitive Transformation.

The importance of reducing stress on brain health needs to be understood – if people can do one thing a day to reduce stress – from meditation, giving gratitude, walking in nature, getting a good night’s sleep – research has demonstrated that this has significant positive benefits on brain health and function.

Also I would encourage people to work on improving their cognitive abilities through practice – it is possible – and current research is pointing to the importance of keeping our brains stimulated and active over our lifespan in order to reduce the cognitive decline that impacts us as we age. Neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change as a result of cognitive stimulation occurs across our lifespan – so continued exercise of the brain can keep our cognitive functions healthy.  Barbara Arrowsmith Young.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist who experienced a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain in 1996.  Dr. Taylor studied her own stroke as it happened and chronicles the experience and her recovery in My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey.

Sleep is everything.  Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

Dr. Marie Pasinski, M.D., Harvard neurologist, brain health expert and author of Beautiful Brain, Beautiful You: Look Radiant from the Inside Out by Empowering Your Mind writes a regular column in the health section of The Huffington Post.

Prolonged sitting takes a profound toll on your brain – simply getting up every half hour for 2 min improves brain blood flow and metabolism, promoting new connections and new neurons. Set a timer or a fitness band ‘idle alert’ to keep you on your toes! Dr. Marie Pasinski, M.D.

Alvaro Fernandez is the CEO and Co-founder of SharpBrains and author of  The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance at Any Age.  

Don’t outsource your brain. Not to media per­son­al­i­ties, not to experts, not to your smart neigh­bor… Make your own deci­sions, and mis­takes. And learn from them. That way, you are train­ing your brain, not your neighbor’s. The same way everyone with a car needs to learn the basics on how to drive and maintain a car…everyone with a brain needs to learn the basics on how our brains and minds work and how to maintain, if not enhance, them.  Alvaro Fernandez

Dr. Jeff Browne is Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and co-author of The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success.  Please visit the website for his son’s memorial scholarship.

Quit looking in all the same places for success.  Your brain is capable of so much more than routine.  Use your opportunity radar to find your own road to success don’t be an imitator or wanna-be.  Believe your brain has the capacity and components necessary to achieve your goals—particularly when you feed it and exercise it well.  Dr. Jeffrey L. Brown

Beauty Begins in the Brain (Part Three)

In the search for the magic lotion or potion that will make us more beautiful, I’m here to tell you that the answer lies inside your head.  That’s right –  your brain is the key to improving every facet of your life….Your brain is your essence, and it is the essence of your beauty.  By enhancing  your mind, you can feel more energetic, creative and alive – all of which makes  you more beautiful.

writes Marie Pasinski, M.D., staff neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School faculty member, in her book Beautiful Brain, Beautiful You: Look Radiant from the Inside Out by Empowering Your Mind.

The face mirrors the chemical activity going on in the brain and actually produces tiny, involuntary microfacial expressions which reflect the inner thoughts and the corresponding neurochemicals being released.  By changing the inner workings of your mind, you can transform the face you present to the world.  “[T] he beauty we see on the outside is direct reflection of what’s happening on the inside.” [Read more…]

Rethinking Red Wine

1455703249_e8450b0a65_zWe’ve been told for some years now that red wine, in moderation, because of the ingredient resveratrol, has heart benefits and may even extend a healthy life. This information allowed people to have a glass of red wine (or two or three) feeling as if they were doing something good for themselves.  Not so fast.

The researcher, Dr. Dipak K. Das, who conducted the research, culminating in 2007 at The University of Connecticut, that had all the nightly news programs and medical journals proclaiming the health benefits of red wine, has been found guilty of 145 acts of data fabrication.

Turns out that an anonymous allegation of “research irregularities” led to a three year internal  investigation of Dr. Das’ lab which resulted in  a 60,000 page report concluding the falsification of data. [Read more…]

Beauty Begins in the Brain (Part Two)

In the search for the magic lotion or potion that will make us more beautiful, I’m here to tell you that the answer lies inside your head.  That’s right –  your brain is the key to improving every facet of your life….Your brain is your essence, and it is the essence of your beauty.  By enhancing  your mind, you can feel more energetic, creative and alive – all of which makes  you more beautiful,

writes Marie Pasinski, M.D., staff neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School faculty member, in her book Beautiful Brain, Beautiful You: Look Radiant from the Inside Out by Empowering Your Mind.

The face mirrors the chemical activity going on in the brain and actually produces tiny, involuntary microfacial expressions which reflect the inner thoughts and the corresponding neurochemicals being released.  By changing the inner workings of your mind, you can transform the face you present to the world.  “[T] he beauty we see on the outside is direct reflection of what’s happening on the inside.”

In the book, Dr. Pasinski outlines a seven step program to optimize the beauty/brain connection.  They are:

  • Indulge in the new
  • Rev up your social life
  • Mind Your Body
  • Go for the glow!
  • The smart diet
  • Make over your mind
  • Beautify your brain rhythms

I covered the first three categories in a previous blog, here, I will cover the next two  and the remaining in a subsequent blog. [Read more…]

Beauty Begins in the Brain (Part One)

In the search for the magic lotion or potion that will make us more beautiful, I’m here to tell you that the answer lies inside your head.  That’s right –  your brain is the key to improving every facet of your life….Your brain is your essence, and it is the essence of your beauty.  By enhancing  your mind, you can feel more energetic, creative and alive – all of which makes you more beautiful,”

writes Marie Pasinski, M.D., staff neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School faculty member, in her book Beautiful Brain Beautiful You.

The face mirrors the chemical activity going on in the brain and actually produces tiny, involuntary microfacial expressions which reflect the inner thoughts and the corresponding neurochemicals being released.  By changing the inner workings of your mind, you can transform the face you present to the world.  “[T] he beauty we see on the outside is direct reflection of what’s happening on the inside.”

In the book, Dr. Pasinski outlines a seven step program to optimize the beauty/brain connection.  They are:

  • Indulge in the new
  • Rev up your social life
  • Mind your body
  • Go for the glow!
  • The smart diet
  • Make over your mind
  • Beautify your brain rhythms

This part one of a three part series.  Beauty Begins in the Brain Part Two.  Beauty Begins in the Brain Part Three. [Read more…]