The Power of Positive Thinking

While exercise has been widely accepted for its cognitive benefits, practices such as yoga and meditation are gaining attention for their specific contributions to brain health. “Meditation can change certain anatomical structures of the brain, and attention function can be improved, just as it can be with exercise,” neuroscientist and Dana Alliance member Wendy Suzuki said in a podcast called Ariana Yoga, which focuses on her exercise-based brain research. The technique of meditating allows for the ability to focus attention without distraction, as well as a better capacity to control emotional impulses, she explains.

As a new type of workout, Suzuki has taken the concept of applying positive thoughts to physical exercise for a practice she describes as “intentional exercise.” The combination of a favorite aerobic activity paired with a positive affirmation or mantra “adds another element,” she says. “Exercise is changing all sorts of neurochemicals and growth factors in your brain,” Suzuki explains in the podcast. Her fascination with the cognitive effects of consistent exercise, and consequential shift in lab research from brain plasticity and memory, was sparked through her own positive experience.

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Two Free Successful Aging & Your Brain Events in NYC!

Will you be in New York City next week? Would you like to know more about maintaining brain health as you age? If so, you have two opportunities to attend our free Successful Aging & Your Brain program!

MemorySuccessful Aging & Your Brain, formerly Staying Sharp, features a panel discussion on topics such as normal age-related changes in the brain, brain diseases and disorders, and successful aging techniques. After the discussion, there is allotted time for audience questions.

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The Suzuki Method: Exercise and the Brain

After I’ve spent the majority of the day sitting at my desk or running around for work, it can be hard to muster up the will to exercise afterwards. While this comes easier to some than others, the positive feelings that follow a challenging workout seem universal. Exploring these emotions, such as joy or exhilaration, is part of what drives Wendy Suzuki’s research as a scientist and professor of neural science and psychology at NYU.

Suzuki’s fascination with the effects of exercise on brain function led her to take her research outside of the lab: She has become a certified exercise instructor for intenSati, a combination of kickboxing, dance, yoga, and martial arts with spoken affirmations. As part of Brain Awareness Week in New York City, she combined her passions into a class titled “Exercise and the Brain:” one hour of intenSati followed by a 45-minute talk on brain function.

Photo credit: Jenna Robino

Photo credit: Jenna Robino

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