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The Dana Guide to Brain Health and Brain Research

Dana Press kindly sent us a cou­ple of books. One of them, The Dana Guide to Brain Health: A Prac­ti­cal Fam­ily Ref­er­ence From Med­ical Experts, is our topic today.

We are impressed by what Dana is doing to insert neu­ro­science find­ings and impli­ca­tions into the pub­lic discourse.

No big sur­prise then, to find out so much qual­ity con­tent inside a 700-page one-of-a-kind guide, some of it, inci­den­tally, pro­vided by Dr. Gold­berg, our Chief Sci­en­tific Advisor.

The guide is really 4 books inside a com­mon bind­ing. Priced at a rea­son­able level, and with superb in-depth text and images in all rel­e­vant areas, the book can be used as a 1) Brain 101 tuto­r­ial, 2) brief sum­mary of the basics of Brain Care and Well­ness, 3) descrip­tion of the stages of brain devel­op­ment, 4) ref­er­ence guide for around 70 brain-related con­di­tions. In my per­sonal opin­ion, every neu­ro­science, med­ical and psy­chol­ogy stu­dent, clin­i­cian and researcher should have this book in their hands to keep abreast of many recent devel­op­ments, and also be exposed to pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment courses based on it. Many fam­i­lies and indi­vid­u­als inter­ested in the brain should con­sider buy­ing it too.

Given the focus of our blog-brain fit­ness for healthy individuals-, we par­tic­u­larly enjoyed the sections

- on intel­li­gence, with sen­tences such as “It is extremely unlikely that an “intel­li­gence pill” will be dis­cov­ered in the near future” (P. 215)

- on “The Brain-Body Loop” which explains, among other things, the effects of stress,

- “Tak­ing Advan­tage of New Find­ings and New Find­ing About the Adult Brain”, with gems such as “Recent research on the brain has estab­lished two great prin­ci­ples. First, far from remain­ing sta­tic in adult­hood, as we had long assumed, the human brain con­tin­ues to grow and develop through­out our entire life span. This devel­op­ment takes place in two ways: by ongo­ing adjust­ments in sig­nal­ing path­ways and by the addi­tion of new brain cells. Know­ing this means that you should try, as you would with any fine, high-powered machine, to prac­tice good main­te­nance to give it the best chance to pro­vide peak performance…in many respects we can make a mate­r­ial dif­fer­ence in how it ages, and even induce it to per­form bet­ter over time…Just as we may choose to strengthen our mus­cles with chal­leng­ing work­outs, we can encour­age brain growth by keep­ing engaged in many dif­fer­ent men­tal activities”.

- and, above all, the one on “Basic Brain Care: Pro­tect­ing Your Men­tal Cap­i­tal” (Pages 31–41), where we are all rec­om­mended to

—- Sleep: at least 6 hours a day, mak­ing sure we don’t make a habit of “cut­ting sleep short”

—- Eat well: the gen­eral rule here is that what is good for the body is also good for the brain, and to be wary of “diets adver­tised as “brain food”

—- “Pro­tect the fortress” (our skull), by mak­ing sure we use secu­rity belts and hel­mets when­ever there may be a risk

—- Exer­cise regularly

—- Keep Stress in Check (stress can inhibit or reduce the cre­ation of new neu­rons, among other things)

—- Stim­u­late our minds through life, by ensur­ing a flow of nov­elty and vari­ety that enhances the cre­ation of a “cog­ni­tive reserve”. If is fas­ci­nat­ing for us to see how Brain Fit­ness helps inte­grate “Brain Health” and “Life­long Learn­ing”, Health & Well­ness and Edu­ca­tion. Of course, these cat­e­gories are human con­ven­tions that the brain itself prob­a­bly doesn’t care too much about…

In short, a great ref­er­ence book for pro­fes­sion­als and for peo­ple inter­ested in the brain. And a great start­ing point (the only one we are aware of) for a really use­ful and prac­ti­cal guide to Brain Health that every fam­ily should have. In a bit more cre­ative terms: great qual­ity mar­ble look­ing for a consumer-oriented Michelangelo.

We won’t be post­ing more until 2007…so Happy New Year!

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