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Hang Out & Do Stuff With Friends: Live Longer & Healthier

If you maintain regular interaction with friends and family, everything in your life will be better.
Angela Troyer, PhD and Professional Practice Chief of Psychology and the program director of neuropsychology and cognitive health at Baycrest Hospital in Toronto, Nicole Anderson PhD and Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Psychology at the University of Toronto and Kelly Murphy PhD, Clinical Neuropsychologist at Baycrest and Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto wrote Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Guide to Maximizing Brain Health and Reducing Risk of Dementia.
In synthesizing some of their work, Professor Troyer wrote this: “Did you know that connecting with friends may also boost your brain health and lower your risk of dementia?” She went on to make these four points about social interaction: you may live longer, you will enjoy better physical health; you will enjoy better mental health; and you may even lower your risk of dementia.

In their w…
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Do This One Thing to Focus Like a Navy Seal

Our brains normally control our breathing automatically. At the base of the brain is the brain stem, which includes the medulla oblongata, which monitors things like carbon dioxide levels in the blood and signals the lungs to adjust as appropriate.
According to Doctor Matthew MacKinnon, taking control of your breathing for a while can be relaxing and calming. Let’s give it a test. Beginning right now, sit up straight, relax your shoulders, put your hands in your lap. Exhale and empty your lungs. Take a slow deep breath. Try to count slowly up to four as you inhale. Hold your breath for a count of four, then slowly exhale counting 1 2 3 4.  Repeat ten times.


Done?
By the time you complete ten reps, you’ve probably cut your respiration rate from about fifteen breaths per minute to six. If you’ve followed along, you should be more relaxed and concentrating better. The Navy Seals call this technique four-box breathing and use it to calm down and focus. And they are likely in more high-pr…

Dance Your *** Off; Grow a Bigger Brain

Just a week ago we summarized research lead by Neuroscientist Aga Burzynska, PhD that showed that dancing improved brain white matter, while other exercise and the control group didn’t. Now we have another related research study led by Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld that shows important brain improvement from dancing. The research was conducted at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and at the Otto von Geuricke University Medical Center.  Further, dancing achieved better results than an exercise program.
Participants were divided into two groups. One group took dancing lessons. The dance steps and routines became more complex as the study continued. The second group did a combination of endurance training, strength training, flexibility and stretching. Both groups showed measurable improvement. However, the dancers showed more improvement in the part of the brain associated with balance.
From the study: “Results reveal that higher cardiorespiratory fitness levels (VO2 Max) are asso…

Dance and Grow Your Brain

Lee Ann Womack had a giant hit in 2000 with a song called “I hope you dance” written by Mark Sanders and Tia Sellers. Lee Ann, Mark and Tia were on to something. There is ample research supporting the role exercise has in overall health. Further, there is substantial additional research that informs us that we can grow a bigger brain by learning new activities that involve concentration and fine motor skills, such as learning to play the guitar or woodcarving.
Professor Agnieszka Burzynska and a team from the University of Illinois in Urbana performed a study on older adults to see if dancing had any effect on brain health. The test group, which consisted of older adults, was split into three groups. One group maintained their current activities; most of them were sedentary. The second group performed light stretching exercises, and the third group began to take dance lessons and dance. The good news is that the dancers showed real, measurable improvement in the area of the brain cal…

7 Ways to Fix Your Gut and Help Your Brain

Author Peter Andrey Smith titled his article on the relationship of the brain to the intestines, and, in particular, the tiny creatures that live in our intestine beautifully: “The tantalizing links between gut microbes and the brain”. If the human brain is the frontier of medical science, the microbiome, those tiny creatures that live in our intestinal tract, is Jupiter. The linkage between what goes on in the gut and the brain is indeed tantalizing, and the subject of research worldwide. There are over 1,000 different kinds of those things living inside us. There are hints that having the wrong mix of gut microbes, or the absence of any particular type, is linked to asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and more. Further, antibiotics, illnesses and other factors can deplete the population. Here are seven things we can do to help keep our little creatures happy and healthy.
Eat the right stuff. There is evidence that the right diet helps keep …

Cover The Topic Podcast

Today I was interviewed by noted podcaster Kelsay Yerian for her Cover the Topic podcast. In the second of a three-part interview series, we discussed investing in start-ups, a little about venture capitalists, e-commerce, retail winners and losers, and the beginnings of www.bigbrain.place. www.bigbrain.place offers a variety of games, puzzles, aromatherapy, books on meditation, gourmet coffee and sleep accoutrements- all grounded in research indicating that they are good for brain health.

You can listen here or catch it on ITunes. http://coverthetopic.com/episode-38-interview-with-gene-morphis-part-2/

12 Tips For A Good Night's Sleep

We previously wrote about the activities that you (that is your brain, which is reading this) does while you sleep. Those activities are critical to memory, overall health and more. If you consistently don’t get enough sleep, your normal every day performance suffers-not a surprise to individuals who find themselves rotating from morning to evening to overnight shifts. Fortunately, science has come up with some tips for a good night’s sleep: Get regular exercise. But stop exercising at least two hours before trying to sleep; you’ll be too jazzed up.Go to bed at the same time each night.Stop looking at your portable electronic devices like your smartphone and tablet, an hour before bedtime. Those devices emit light in the spectrum that stimulates our brains to wake up.If you are sensitive to caffeine, have your last cup of coffee, glass of soda, etc. in the early afternoon.Get into a nighttime ritual. Clean your face, brush your teeth, say your…