What is your current job title and organization, and what excites you the most about working there?
As the founder and chief director at the Center for BrainHealth at UT-Dallas, what gets me excited every day is being on the forefront of defining and encouraging cognitive brain health fitness for people of all ages. We are identifying measures of brain health and what it takes to achieve it for healthy brains, injured brains and diseased brains. It is just as important to care for your brain when it is healthy as when it is diseased or injured.
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?
My research takes a lifespan approach to harness the power of the frontal lobes to make cognitive and physiological improvements to the brain through high performance brain training. Most research focuses on what’s wrong with the brain, but when I realized how quickly we could translate research discoveries into solutions to help people think smarter, I knew I had to establish a center to make that possible.
What is one important thing you are working on now, and where can people learn more about it?
We have just launched the Brain Performance Institute, which will become the clinical arm for our research. Through the Institute we will disseminate the validated training programs being developed at the Center for BrainHealth. We hope to reach more than 500,000 people in the next 10 years. To learn more about it, visit centerforbrainhealth.org. Friends of SharpBrains can also enjoy my my TEDx Talk and Make Your Brain Smarter book.
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?
Your brain changes every single day by how you use it. It either moves forward or backward. Taking proactive steps to keep it healthy is an important, life long pursuit. Your brain can begin to decline in your 20s, if you let it. But you can make your brain smarter and healthier in your 20s, 40s or 80s by becoming a more a strategic thinker and adopting healthy brain habits.
Do not let labels like IQ, academic degrees or class rank limit your highest level of brain performance. Smart is defined by being able to synthesize information, create new ideas and innovate solutions.
Where do you see clear “low-hanging fruit” to enhance behavioral and brain health based on neuroscience and innovation?
Using innovative thinking, we can rewire the brain at every level. That’s why we are creating high performance brain training strategies, to better harness that potential.
What would you like the 2013 SharpBrains Virtual Summit to accomplish?
I want to find partners, from researchers to health executives and entrepreneurs, to help move more and more people from facts to action. Learning about the brain is interesting, but it is thrilling to see your brain on innovation. I hope the Summit helps accelerate existing drivers for change and spark new ones, so that more people can access tools and support to reach their full cognitive potential and become higher brain performers.
Finally, what do YOU do to stay sharp?
I try to run a mind marathon everyday. All day long, and even in my sleep, when I take information in, I always synthesize, innovate and integrate across diverse thinking areas. I am always on alert to avoid rote thinking. I also make sure that I get eight hours of sleep each night and aerobic exercise regularly.
—This 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