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Dr. Sherrie All: A neuropsychologist shaping the future of cognitive wellness

Dr. Sherrie All

Sher­rie D. All, Ph.D

What is your cur­rent job title and orga­ni­za­tion, and what excites you the most about work­ing there?
I’m the founder of the Chica­go Cen­ter for Cog­ni­tive Well­ness and con­sul­tant to Math­er Life­Ways.  What excites me about work­ing at both places is that it enables me to be a pio­neer in help­ing peo­ple bet­ter under­stand and take care of their brains.

Please tell us about your inter­est in applied brain sci­ence. What areas are you most inter­est­ed in? What moti­vat­ed you to pur­sue work in your field?
As a neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist, what moti­vat­ed me to pur­sue this work were all of the peo­ple who would come in for neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal eval­u­a­tions with long his­to­ries of hyper­ten­sion, dia­betes, and smok­ing who nev­er thought for one sec­ond about the impact that this was hav­ing on their brains. I’m most inter­est­ed in edu­cat­ing the pub­lic about cog­ni­tive reserve and how each of us can har­ness it to improve our brains both now and as we age, low­er­ing the risk for demen­tia.  A recent arti­cle in the jour­nal Neu­rol­o­gy esti­mat­ed that the rate of demen­tia will triple in the next 40 years unless pre­ventable mea­sures are dis­cov­ered, but so many pre­ventable mea­sures are already at our dis­pos­al.  Peo­ple need to know this!!  There is a lot of talk about brain fit­ness in the media, but very lit­tle qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion — so I real­ly appre­ci­ate the sec­ond edi­tion of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness.  I hope to help peo­ple take charge!

What is one impor­tant thing you are work­ing on now, and where can peo­ple learn more about it?
My cen­ter has start­ed to offer a 6-month coach­ing pro­gram that leads peo­ple through the process of iden­ti­fy­ing their risk for demen­tia and help them work to improve brain health.  I am doing this both indi­vid­u­al­ly and in groups, with the groups meet­ing over the inter­net.  Even when peo­ple know what to do to keep their brains healthy, they often can’t get start­ed or stay moti­vat­ed.  These coach­ing expe­ri­ences are aimed at help­ing peo­ple over­come these obsta­cles, devel­op­ing and main­tain­ing new habits for bet­ter brain health.  Peo­ple can learn more about it at and by read­ing the fun New York­er arti­cle that Alvaro Fer­nan­dez helped pro­duce.

What are 1–2 key things you’d like every per­son to under­stand regard­ing his/ her own brain and mind, that you think is com­mon­ly mis­rep­re­sent­ed or not addressed in the pop­u­lar media?
How your brain ages is pro­found­ly impact­ed by how you live your life.  At every age we make choic­es that affect the amount that we “invest” in our Brain’s 401K (the brain’s reserve account), influ­enc­ing how much a dis­ease or injury will affect our abil­i­ty to func­tion or think clear­ly. Also, how you treat your body affects how your brain ages.  More men­tal stim­u­la­tion may not be the first thing that a younger per­son needs in terms of improv­ing focus and low­er­ing the risk for demen­tia.  Stress reduc­tion, phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and weight loss may be high­er pri­or­i­ties for them.

Where do you see clear “low-hang­ing fruit” to enhance behav­ioral and brain health based on neu­ro­science and inno­va­tion?
A one-stop shop for peo­ple to devel­op holis­tic, brain-healthy behav­iors.  A brain spa.

What would you like the 2013 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit to accom­plish?
Con­tin­ue to inspire and help con­nect like-mind­ed peo­ple with one anoth­er in a fun and time-effi­cient way to help advance the field of brain fit­ness and cog­ni­tive well­ness.

Final­ly, what do YOU do to stay sharp?
I exer­cise, eat more veg­gies than I used to, avoid high fruc­tose cor syrup and nitrates, learn all the time, get reg­u­lar mas­sages, med­i­tate, con­nect with my sup­port net­work, and soak up love from my kids dai­ly –usu­al­ly this involves either mak­ing mean­ing­ful eye con­tact or rub­bing my cheek on their cheeks [they’re still sort of babies] until I feel a burst of oxy­tocin.

2013 SharpBrains SummitThis con­ver­sa­tion is part of a new inter­view series with Speak­ers and Par­tic­i­pants in the upcom­ing 2013 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit (Sep­tem­ber 19–20th). You can reg­is­ter with a 20% dis­count using pro­mo­tion­al code: sharp2020

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.