The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1040: How to Make Your Brain Healthy for a Happy Life (Archive)

Dr. Wendy Suzuki tells us what lifestyle changes to make to take advantage of neuroplasticity. Regular exercise and meditation can keep the brain healthy.
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How to Make Your Brain Healthy for a Happy Life (Archive)

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At midcareer, neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki had numerous scientific awards and accomplishments. She was studying what makes a brain healthy. But she didn’t have much of a life outside of the lab, and she wasn’t happy. She decided to make some changes, starting with a stop at the gym.

How Does Moving Your Body Make Your Brain Healthy?

Dr. Suzuki shifted the direction of her research after she had personal experience with the benefits of exercise.  Soon she was studying how moving your body affects your mood, your brain and your health.

Looking at Neuroplasticity:

Exercise is not the only key to neuroplasticity, although it is very important. If you master specialized skills, your neural connections could change. This can help you keep your brain healthy. Find out what happens when a person learns The Knowledge of the streets of London in order to become certified as a taxicab driver.

Tune in to learn how you can put her research to work for you to help you achieve better brain function and a happy life. Should you take up meditation?

The research from the Netherlands that we discussed about exercise and learning is published in Current Biology, June 16, 2016.

This Week’s Guest:

Wendy Suzuki, PhD, is a Professor of Neural Science and Psychology in the Center for Neural Science at New York University. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards including the prestigious Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences. She is a three-time TedX speaker and has presented at The Moth.

Her book is Healthy Brain, Happy Life:A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain & Do Everything Better. The photograph of Dr. Suzuki is by Elias Wessel.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I used to love riding my bike – but, at age 85, I found that I couldn’t lift my leg up high enough over the sloping bar on the bike, and last month I caught my leg on the bar & fell, face first onto the cement when trying to get off my bike, leading me to the hospitals etc. Does anyone know of a bike with a really low bar that I might purchase? This has always been my favorite exercise & I hate to have to give it up.
Thanks for your input,

Look into a “Townie” Electra Bike. (I am not associated with this company or any dealer).

Lynne, Do an internet search for a Pibal bike or a Moox bike. Both brands are a cross between a bicycle and a scooter so the bar is very low (below the pedals and gears).
You might also find that a folding bike or a recumbent bike might work for you.

Good luck. I too really enjoyed riding road bikes but we’ve moved, and I don’t feel comfortable riding in our current city.

Has she or anyone done any studies on the use of music/dance to keep our brains healthy and happy? although I am on a cane now I still chair dance (line danced for over 25 years) and movement to music helps everything feel better IMHO.

I miss so much the People’s Pharmacy on NPR on Saturday morning.

Hi Joe and Terry!
So there I was, sitting in the parked car in front of the house, having an NPR moment, listening to the end of this show, and debating: should I finish erands by car or by bike. by car: I can hear the end of the show; by bike: well … exercise! Solution? Both. I got to the end of the show at home, and am heading out on my bike now. :)

I continue to be amazed that people feel the need to have the obvious scientifically validated.

As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” That’s why people validate the “obvious.”

How do I get the podcast?

Is there a printed-friendly version of some of the articles? I think my 93 yr. old mom would benefit from some of this information.

She does use a computer.


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