Final Brain in the News of 2018

NPR_ExerciseGuidelines

Photo from the December issue of Brain in the News. Image: Shutterstock

If you’re a subscribed reader of Brain in the News, you should have the final issue of the year in your mailbox by now (if you’re a loyal reader from outside of North America, please allow a couple extra days for delivery).

This year Brain in the News underwent a few changes, while maintaining the foundation of the publication as a trustworthy collection of news articles about the brain. We hope you enjoy the new layout as much as we do. It features a new “Bits and Pieces” section made up of facts and figures about the brain, neuroscience throughout history, top-rated brainy books, and our “honorable mentions” of internet news stories, “Brain on the Web.” The paper also includes a new “Stay Healthy” section, which highlights different wellness tips each issue and offers guidance on small things we can all do to protect our brains.

Another feature we are especially excited about is a new neuroethics column, written by former deputy editorial page editor of The New York Times Phil Boffey. Boffey, who also served as editor of Science Times, will continue delivering his monthly columns on different topics that analyze ethical dilemmas around brain-related news. You can read his latest column on the opioids crisis on the Dana website.

To highlight a story featured in our December issue, the subject seems appropriate as many of us go into the new year with revitalized goals and resolutions.

The US Dept. of Health and Human Services issued updated recommendations of the federal government’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans to help people ages three and up improve their health. The article we featured by National Public Radio (NPR) sums up the new guidelines and its importance:

While it’s true that sitting for prolonged periods is bad for your health, the good news is that we can offset the damage by adding more physical activity into our days … With a few exceptions, the advice in the new guidelines is not so different from what we were told in the 2008 guidelines. But here’s the trouble: Only about 20 percent of Americans meet them.

This alarming lack of physical activity is not only detrimental to our health, it is linked to $117 billion in annual healthcare costs, according to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The NPR story continues with key takeaways from the new guidelines:

The new guidelines marshal a growing body of evidence that documents immediate benefits of exercise such as reduced anxiety, improved sleep and improved blood sugar control, and long-term benefits (of regular physical activity), including cognitive benefits, and significantly lower risks of heart disease and certain cancers.

So, how much physical activity do we need? On this point, the new guidelines haven’t changed: Adults need a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity.

One way to think about this: Aim for at least 22 minutes of movement a day. You don’t necessarily need to go to the gym or take up jogging. Pick any activity that gets your heart rate up, including walking. In addition, the guidelines call for adults to do muscle-strengthening activity on two or more days a week.

The full story can be found on their website.

Brain in the News is the only Dana Foundation publication that cannot be found online. We try our best to serve as many members of the public as we can, including those who may not have access to computers or the internet, or those of you who just like a good page to turn. It is free, and subscribing is easy.

If you’re already a subscribed member, don’t forget to fill out our Reader Survey to help determine the future of this publication.

Thanks to all our readers for your enthusiasm about our publication and the brain!

– Seimi Rurup

BrainWorks: Exploring the Brain-Computer Interface

At the end of the day, computers and brains share at least one trait. On a very basic level, both use electrical currents to send messages and commands to accomplish certain tasks. Understanding exactly how that process works within our brain and how it relates to computers may be key for researchers and doctors when it comes to helping various types of patients.

Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D., is back with another BrainWorks video to help educate children on how our brains and computers can talk to each other and why this is an important area of research. Chudler, the executive director for the Center for Neurotechnology at the University of Washington, won a Northwest Emmy Award last year for his BrainWorks video “Exercise and the Brain,” and this new video in the series, “Brain-Computer Interface,” is just as informative and entertaining.

Continue reading

Scouts Healthy Brain Initiative: Order Your Patches!

scoutspatch3

Girl Scout Troop #72, Nashville, Tennessee, 2018

Are you involved with the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts of America? If so, the order form for the Scouts Healthy Brain Initiative Fun Patch is now available! Scout leaders within the United States and Canada can now order up to 50 patches for their troops.

The Scouts Healthy Brain Initiative aims to bring the topics of neuroscience and brain health into Boy Scout and Girl Scout troop meetings. Planning a fun-filled educational activity can be as easy as using some of our downloadable materials from the Dana Foundation site, including puzzles, games, fact sheets, and lesson plans. Inviting a neuroscientist or other brain health professional to speak to troops is another great way to participate in this initiative. Troop leaders can also teach their scouts how to be become an advocate for brain health and neuroscience research. To earn their patches, the only requirement is that Scouts learn about the brain! Continue reading

It’s Healthy Aging Month!

Seniors.jpg

Image: Shutterstock

Every September is Healthy Aging Month, and there is no better time than the present to start living a healthier life for your brain. Whether you are 80 or 18, it’s never too late or too early to follow some basic principles.

The Dana Foundation’s Successful Aging & Your Brain booklet discusses what older adults can do to keep their brains sharp as they age. Although it is true that cognitive decline, dementia, and other brain diseases and disorders become more common with age, it is also true that our brain improves in many ways as we grow older. With time, we accumulate more knowledge and apply past lessons in judging present challenges and opportunities—in other words, we become wiser. Our brains also maintain their ability to change in response to experiences, known as plasticity, well into old age.  Continue reading

Predicting Suicides—Beyond STARRS

News Story from dana.org

Suicide Prevention

Image: Shutterstock

Over the past few years, America has lost several celebrities, including actor/comedian Robin Williams and fashion designer Kate Spade, to suicide. It’s not a surprise: Suicide rates have been increasing across the board in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1.3 million people in the US attempted suicide in 2016 – and nearly 45,000 died. This is nearly a 25 percent increase from the numbers posted in 2000.

To help combat what is being called a problem of epidemic proportions, the Mental Health Research Network, led by researchers at Kaiser Permanente, has developed a computer model based on data collected during outpatient visits to help identify which patients may be at the most risk for killing themselves.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: