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Making a Good Brain Great

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:27pm
Is the glass half full, or half empty? It depends on whether you're pouring, or drinking.

-Bill Cosby
"Being grateful for the wonderful things in your life literally helps you have a brain to be grateful for", says Daniel Amen, M.D., a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist and brain-imaging expert, in his book Making A Good Brain Great . Amen utilizes SPECT images of brains to evaluate its outside surfaces and underactive areas. He says that the basic principles to keep in mind are:
  • The brain is involved in everything you do. How you think, how you feel, how you act, and how well you get along with other people has to do with the moment-by- moment functioning of your brain.
  • When your brain works right, you tend to be effective, thoughtful, creative and energetic.
  • When the brain is troubled, you may have problems with depression, anxiety, work performance, impulsivity, memory and relationships.
  • Your brain dysfunction, even when subtle, may be getting in your way of success.
  • Your brain has only so much reserve. A lifetime of abuse or neglect (smoking, too much caffeine or alcohol, drug abuse, brain injuries, excessive stress) all add up and take years of healthy mental functioning away from you.
  • With the right plan, you can reverse damage and optimize your own brain and subsequently improve your life.
  • You (and your brain) can be better than you are, even if you are already in good shape!

I love it when high-tech meets high-touch. Dr. Amen theorizes that low cerebellar activity is associated with decreased motor and thought coordination and that negative thought patterns change the brain in a negative way. He also says that it is critical to visualize what you want and then match your behavior over time to get it! Stimulate your brain and it works better.

Dr. Amen's book thoroughly goes through the different areas of your brain and the effects of low activity in each. He tells you how to identify and then reduce the risks of the diseases of brain aging such as dementia and Alzheimer's. I suggest you get a copy of his book if you're interested in being "all here" for the rest of your life.

The bottom line though for any life enhancing exercise, diet or magic potion, in my opinion, is this: if it is practiced in fear, anger, or force, it's useless. Maybe even harmful. See your glass as being half full and think of everything that you are truly grateful for. SPECT images prove that healthy, active brains belong to those who hold such thoughts. Prayers go up, blessings come down.

Photo: Bluejacket Photo

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