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!


  1. morganusvitus on April 5, 2007 at 7:53

    The site looks great ! Thanks for all your help ( past, present and future !)

  2. Alvaro on April 5, 2007 at 6:22

    Wow-many thanks for your kind words :-) very much appreciated.

  3. Alex on April 22, 2007 at 3:12

    Thank You

  4. James Gibbs on February 11, 2009 at 10:53

    Nice arti­cle, this is a great resource you have here. I have to say, I’m enjoy­ing the con­tent so far–I actu­al­ly had no idea that the brain con­tin­ues to grow and devel­op through­out an entire lifespan.

    It’s nice to see a good blog that dis­cuss­es “brain fit­ness” every once in a while as it is a top­ic that I’m very inter­est­ed in. I’m actu­al­ly con­stant­ly in search of good brain fit­ness, or brain train­ing pro­grams at the moment, do have any that you would recommend?

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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