Tag Archives: Brain

World’s First Implanted Brain Computer

By: Tina Davidson

remote-control-brain

Someone put a remote control in her brain and she can communicate?

It seems that this is more likely to happen in a sci-fi movie (or an episode of The Simpsons) than reality, but thanks to a group of researchers, this cutting edge technology is making communication possible for Hanneke De Bruijne.

De Bruijne has ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and developed locked-in-syndrome (almost all her voluntary muscles, except her eyes, are paralyzed). She can’t speak, but thanks to the help of a surgically implanted  brain computer interface (which works like a remote control), she can now type out words.

“This is the world’s first totally implanted brain-computer interface system that someone has used in her daily life with some success,” said Dr. Jonathan R. Wolpaw, the director of the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies in Albany.

I recommend you check out Steph Yin’s entire article, “Brain Implant Eases Communication by Late-Stage A.L.S. Patient.”

Please keep up the good work, brain researchers!!

Thanks to The Tribune (sanluisobispo.com) for running the article that originally caught my attention.

Source: Steph Yin, The New York Times

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Wireless Education and Your Brain

EMF_wifi_toothbrushWireless Education and Your Brain

By: Tina C. Davidson

I recently saw an advertisement that I found kinda alarming. I wonder if anyone else did a double take when they first saw a picture of the iPotty?

Now, thanks to the iPotty, toddlers can use their wi-fi devices hands free in the bathroom. It would be awful if children got their tablets messy while using the bathroom, right?

Is this high-tech helper developmentally necessary?  Most children learned to potty train without the help of an iPad stationed above the toilet. Sorry, iPotty. (To read more about how technology is influencing children, check out the book, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age. Sadly, tech addiction is starting young!)

So, what should we do since the high-tech potties, toasters, cars, fridges, helmets, dolls, toothbrushes (and who knows what else) all have wi-fi capabilities and are emitting EMFs? What are the health implications for our little and big people?

You can start by checking out a free quiz to test your knowledge of wi-fi safety. The quiz is brought to you by WirelessEducation.org and according to their website:

Wireless Education is the new training portal for Wireless Tech Safety. Our core business is focused on educationtraining and safety. We have researched medical and scientific information so you don’t have to.

I like the sound of that, but I’ll glean what I can from the Wireless Education site and others as I continue my quest for knowledge on the topic. (I can’t sit back and let them have all the research fun!)

How’d you do on the quiz?

I’m sure Jeromy Johnson, an EMF expert, would have scored 100% on the wi-fi safety quiz. He gave a TEDx Talk in February of 2016 on the issue. I recommend you check it out, if you haven’t already.

TEDx talks have become a popular way to reach a large audience on various topics (once videos are online they can go viral). Live talks, operas, musicals, and plays have always been an important tool for passing along ideas.  Your brain will most likely remember something better that it has seen and heard. I think a live performance can be a very memorable experience for your brain.

So far, there’s only one musical out there (that I know of!) that is addressing the health effects of wireless technology. Here’s more on the intention of the musical, Innocenzo:

A Note On Our Intention

We understand the “controversial” nature of this subject. Our aim is not to create or add to any existing conflicts. We are telling the story we have lived with the aim of prevention. Given our experience with electrosmog (ie, becoming seriously ill from it), we have decided not to wait for every scientist in the world to come to an agreement before taking action.

Not everyone is in consensus about the ill effects of wireless technology, but I agree that is is safer to take action now than to “wait and see.” It is encouraging that playwrights and web developers are doing their part to spread the word on how to be safe.

How about your readers? What do you think should be done to further protects consumers from electrosmog? Have you seen Innocenzo?

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The Dark Side of Sugar and Your Brain

sweet side

By: Tina Davidson

Halloween is almost here. For most kids, October 31 means costumes and CANDY!

This year my sons will be dressed as a father and son duo–Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader, and Luke Skywalker. I’m sure they’ll be wielding their lightsabers to commandeer treats while using the Force to try to persuade me to allow them to eat sugar and stay up past their bedtime.

Should I worry too much about them having trouble falling asleep after eating a bag full of candy in the evening? Apparently, a new study has found that sugar may help out with sleep:

Contrary to parental belief, sugar may actually cause drowsiness, not hyperactivity. Key brain cells awash in glucose put mice to sleep, scientists report in the July 8 Journal of Neuroscience. (1)

I’m going to allow my children to eat a reasonable amount of candy (not in excess) since this article just came out and their falling asleep quickly is not 100% guaranteed. The key words of the study are “may actually cause drowsiness” so my kids will have to present me with a few more studies (done on humans) before I change this policy.

And my kids can forget about eating any candy with artificial colors or chemical sweeteners. There are studies that link artificial food dyes to hyperactivity (sometimes sugar is not solely to blame for kid craziness–check out the blog “Die, Food Dye!” for testimonials from parents with dye sensitive kids). So, I plan on letting my kids collect candy, but I’ll swap this candy out later for “mother-approved” candy they can eat (stuff they pick out ahead of time from Trader Joe’s). This tradition seems to make everyone happy.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!  May the Force be with you!

Hanging with Yoda at LEGOLAND for the day. Photo courtesy of Thea Gavin.

Hanging out with Yoda at LEGOLAND.

Further Reading

Do You Let Sugar Master Your Attention Span?

Check out the article, “Energy drinks significantly increase hyperactivity in schoolchildren, study finds” posted on February 9, 2015, at Science Daily:

Middle-school children who consume heavily sweetened energy drinks are 66% more likely to be at risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health has found.

Do or Do not. There is no Try When it Comes to Substituting Real Sugar for NAS

You may want to think twice before you choose a non-caloric artificial sweetener (NAS) and find out how it may affect your intestinal microbiota. Check out the article, “It’s Never Nice to Fool Mother Nature,” posted on Dr. Perlmutter’s blog.

Chris Kresser’s blog also has a post, “The Unbiased Truth About Artificial Sweeteners” from May 30, 2014, that is worth checking out. You can also find a free ebook on sweeteners on his website.

Do you Underestimate the Power of Sugar?

Some people complain of nightmares after eating a lot of sugar and some gain weight after eating a diet high in sugar. There are others who experience no ill effects after consuming lots of sugar. Maybe they just don’t notice any effects because it puts them to sleep? Check out the article, “What Sugar Does to Your Brain” by Dr. Scott Olson.

Scientific studies on the effects of sugar on the brain are sparse at best and most medical professionals and organizations will say that sugar has nothing to do with mood or hyperactivity. If you are surprised by that stance, you are not alone.

“Your powers are weak” when it comes to fending off sugar cravings.

Should You Eat Chocolate Before a Lightsaber Battle or Tense Discussion?

According to the Wall Street Journal article posted on December 3, 2014, “How the Brain Uses Glucose to Fuel Self-Control,” by Robert M. Sapolsky, eating some chocolate to get your glucose levels up before entering into a tense discussion with a spouse may prove beneficial (taking glucose before a lightsaber battle was not mentioned in the article).

Going for the Padame Amidala look this Halloween?

Protect your brain from heavy metals found in some costume makeup and check out the article, “Beware of Halloween Makeup Hazards,” by Devon Kelley posted on October 20, 2015.

Help me Obi-Wan KALE-nobi–eating Fruits and Vegetables is my Only Hope!

I try to limit my consumption of foods with added sugars. I’ll stick to eating foods that are close to their most natural state and resist the power of the Dark Side of sugar this Halloween.

How about you? What’s your stance on sugar and how it affects your brain? Remember to seek your doctor’s advice and do your research when it comes to your health issues and  consuming sugar.

R2 D2

I found the droid, R2 D2, that I was looking for at LEGOLAND.

I'm not sure how many Lego bricks went into making the Death Star replica at LEGOLAND but it was pretty impressive.

I’m not sure how many Lego bricks went into making the Death Star replica at LEGOLAND but it was pretty impressive.

Sources

Photo of author, Tina Davidson, with Yoda courtesy of Thea Gavin.

(1)  Sanders, Laura. “Sugar may put you to sleep: glucose triggers nerve cells to spur drowsiness in mice.” Science News 8 Aug. 2015: 15. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.

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Make-up, Myelin, and My Brain

high heels

By: Tina Davidson

Before my grandmother had Alzheimer’s, I paid more attention to fashion than myelination.  Now, Alzheimer’s prevention is always on my mind and fuels most of what I write about and research.

When I think of my grandmother, the word “beautiful” always comes to mind.  Not only do I consider her beautiful on the inside, with her generous, gentle, and joyful spirit, but she also always managed to look fabulous on the outside with her hair and make-up done.

I’m skeptical when it comes to applying the chemicals found in hair dyes and make-up to myself.  It hasn’t been completely proven that these items are a direct link to Alzheimer’s, but I know my grandmother probably had accumulated many chemicals since she was sitting in a chair at the hair salon on a weekly basis for decades. I don’t think her era was concerned about researching natural beauty products. It was pretty much whatever the department store marketed best.  I may never know for sure what brought about my grandmother’s disease or if her affinity for fashion contributed to her decline, but the questions remain: was her dementia due to genetics or environmental factors (including beauty regime).

I can’t do anything about my genetics, but I don’t want to take any chances on the things I have control over when it comes to my health.

Chemicals are Pain to my Brain

Not long ago, I had my hair done on a Sunday at a local salon. It wasn’t regular hours for them and it wasn’t a regular day for me. I was primping for a photo shoot to create my wedding photography work team’s holiday card.  I arrived around 10:30 a.m. and left the salon close to 2 p.m.

As I chatted and watched everyone get their hair beautified, I had a sip of a mimosa and inhaled way too much hair spray and dry shampoo (just think of a cloud of baby powderish substance hovering over my head like a word bubble ).  My brain began to hurt as I smelled dose after dose of sickly sweet hair spray, but I had no idea what chemicals were irritating my mucus membranes; this was not the best time to run anything thru the Environmental Working Group’s website, Skin Deep, as I blogged about previously.

Since it wasn’t the time to be too compulsive,  I pushed the thoughts of toxins aside.  After all, the dry shampoo was helping me achieve BIG hair.

Indeed, my hair was voluminous.

More tinges of guilt hit as I thought about what was still to come– the face paint, the sparkly dress, and the high-heels to match–  all foreign to me. I spend most of my days in jeans, minimalist shoes, and if I remember, I apply Dr. Bronner’s “Naked” organic lip balm.  I blend in quite well with the others who don this casual Central Coast style.  As the day of glamour went by, I started to have a greater appreciation for the many brides whose wedding day memories I help capture. It is hard work prepping to be in front of the camera all day.

Our lovely and youthful make-up artist advised me to continue my glamorous look and wear make-up every day. I formed a smile with my bright red lips and pushed away the remembrances of all the time I spent researching toxins and the cosmetic industry.  My look took on its final transformation with the fake eyelashes.

Who was this person?

Guilt and Your Brain

Throughout the day my brain kept sending me guilty reminders about the toxins linked to the beauty industry. I try to read labels, research, and avoid environmental toxins as much as possible. Sometimes I think my husband wishes I didn’t research food so much– he seems to like living in ignorance of what chemicals are added to his meals.

This year I epically ended See’s Candy and El Pollo Loco (those were just two of the big ones) for our household. And by “ended” I mean we can no longer partake of them because we steer clear of dyes, artificial colors/flavor, and preservatives. Some argue that if you don’t eat food containing these items all the time then you can splurge every once in a while– however, this is not the case with food and chemical sensitivities.  You don’t want to mess around with a little here or there.  There are some people who are so sensitive that just a little ingested brings on suicidal tendencies. Check out Dr. Doris Rapp’s book, “Is This Your Child? Discovering and Treating Unrecognized Allergies in Children and Adults” for further reading on the subject.

Thankfully, I do not have extreme food/chemical sensitivities. I did justify sitting in poor indoor air quality and slathering my face with what I deemed toxins as it was “just one day” (not enough for bioaccumulation).

When the time came, I slipped into my high-heels shoes that I’d purchased for $5.95 from the Goodwill. I began to regret my frugal choice since I could barely walk without excruciating pain. I thought back to my days of tap dancing in high heels at Christine’s Dance Studio in Orange.  How did I do it? In my younger years, I danced and performed without any second thoughts of pain or future foot damage.

Now, thanks to my affinity for research and in particular Katy Bowman’s book, “Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet,” I experienced  guilt in my pretty shoes because I knew the damage I was doing to my feet. I felt like a hypocrite but at the same time, scarily, I loved being “glamorized.”

You are What Your Skin Eats

Most likely, I didn’t cause any lasting long term-health effects by putting on a ton of make-up, hair spray, and high-heels one day of the year. (Ok.. I have to admit I actually got dressed up (high-heels, hair, and make-up) twice this past year. Who knows what my record will be for 2015!

In the meantime, I find myself researching make-up companies that don’t use any harsh chemicals or synthetic dyes so I can put on lip-stick and not feel guilty (first world problems of women with brain blogs).

Did you know some natural products contain ground up insects, or carmine, for coloring? There is a whole wave of natural, do-it-yourself, and organic make-up products/sites (some are legit and some just want your money). You’ll have to decide for yourself if you want your products with chemicals, insect juice, or organic botanicals.

What will you be feeding your skin in the new year? Remember to take care of your body’s largest organ.

My initial interest in a smarter approach to beauty was inspired by Paula Begoun’s book, “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me” (2003, 6th edition).

lip tinty

Myelination in the New Year

Perhaps you are reading this and don’t share my struggle with guilt when it comes to wearing un-regulated make-up or shoes that are not recommended by a leading biomechanist.

Maybe you made a resolution for the new year to eat healthier, spend less, or exercise more? Maybe you make this resolution every year and fail.

Focusing on your brain’s process of myelination might be the key to your success this year.  Myelination is the process that contributes to the overall health of your central nervous system thanks to the myelin that is wrapped to insulate your brain’s cell networks so they can communicate more efficiently.

I’ve been following Christine Comaford on twitter and recently read her article on Forbes.com, The Truth about How Your Brain Gets Smarter.  She states:

Neuroscientists worldwide are increasingly studying myelin and its amazing impact on rapid learning, mastery, neuroplasticity.

Read her article to learn all the details on how to hard wire your brain to create smarter habits.  I liked her emphasis on the myelination process and plan to study it as a way to help increase my creativity in the new year.

On the flip side, there is also a process called demyelination where the axons in the central nervous system lose their myelin sheath. Interestingly, demyelination doesn’t cause the dementia in Alzheimer’s patients.  Scientists think the dementia is caused by amyloid [Beta] protein deposition and loss of neurons and synapses.  Multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by demyelination.

Just like fashion trends, your brain can change– sometimes for the better and, sadly, sometimes for the worst.

I hope you’ll focus on ways to improve your brain, like the myelination process, and use your imagination in the new year!

Happy 2015 and here’s to a healthy central nervous system!

Let me know how you plan on helping your brain stay happy and healthy. Say hello on my facebook page or send me a tweet!

@tinabrainblog

Sources & Interesting Reads:

Friedland, Robert P., and Barbara Krosner. “Managing Alzheimer’s Patients.” Science 282.5397 (1998): 2194. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.

Helms, Kristen. “Improving patient outcomes in multiple sclerosis: considerations for medication therapy management.” Drug Topics Nov. 2013: 34+. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.

New Studies Show Anxiety, Depression, Guilt Harm the Brain

Depression, overwhelming guilt in preschool years linked to brain changes

Make Your Work Resolutions Stick

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Fine-Tuning of Brain Function and Autism

Perhaps you have a friend or family member on the autism spectrum?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

Dr. Martha Herbert, pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School, wrote an article about autism that was published online for the Orange County Register on October 18, 2013.  She wrote: “Some autism self-advocates don’t think autism is a “disorder” at all – they describe themselves as having a “condition” that is simply a different way of being human.”

Her article, “Autism challenges us to ‘think different,'” did indeed challenge me to think differently about the subject.

Here’s an excerpt from her article regarding the brain and autism that has implications for us all:

“The areas where people on the autism spectrum have the hardest time are the functions requiring the most exquisite fine-tuning of brain function. The brain requires loads of energy to fire its signals, and to coordinate them. When the brain and body are worn down by too much stress and exposures from the environment, its cells are going to have a hard time generating that energy. The most complex functions will be harder to perform. They may even be put on hold, to protect the rest of the system.

A brain with low energy is going to be challenged when the demand gets high – so finding the right words or tone, figuring out what facial expressions mean, integrating vision with sound and smell, being coordinated, paying attention or even being flexible – all of these will be hard – often too hard.

From this perspective you can see why there would be a spectrum in autism – it’s because there are a million ways of getting overloaded and running out of energy. Each person has their own unique combination of genetic weak spots and exposures that pile on top of this. Each person has their own total load recipe.” Check out the whole article here: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/spectrum-531927-autism-many.html

There is a lot to learn. I am intrigued to check out her book, The Autism Revolution: Whole Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be.

Anyone read it?

I hope that you are taking care of your brain so that it is not overloaded.

One thing you can do to keep your  brain happy and healthy is to exercise.  Try just a casual walk with a friend to reduce your stress. Your brain will be happy you did!

 

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Creating Neural Pathways with the Montessori Method

I found a great site, Montessori for Everyone, and I was especially interested in the blog post titled, “The Neurology of Montessori.”

Just as Jim Kwik mentions in his Kwik Learning mini-series, http://kwiklearning.com/mini/videos, Montessori for Everyone’s post also attributes optimized learning to a hand-to-brain connection (read full post here http://www.blog.montessoriforeveryone.com/the-neurology-of-montessori.html).

Jim Kwik talked about the importance of adults taking notes when listening/learning (Video 4) and using your finger under a reading line to boost your reading speed (Video 3).

Children in a Montessori classroom use their hands to manipulate objects, such as small wood letters for reading, and beads for math.  Students’ brains soak up what they are learning by repetition.  Also, their mirror neurons are taking in what others are doing and learning by example.  (If you aren’t familiar with mirror neurons yet, I will fill you in on that fascinating topic in a future post.)

Perhaps you have a child, friend, cousin, niece, etc. who would benefit from a Montessori education? Or perhaps it is time you tried this approach to learning?

It is never too late to learn. We know this thanks to the science of neuroplasticity!

E.D. Alphabet Age 5

E.D. Alphabet
Age 5

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October 11, 2013 · 10:26 pm

Email Re: Don’t Miss: Art of Healthy Aging Fall 2013

Email Re: Don't Miss: Art of Healthy Aging Fall 2013

Bowers Museum, located in Santa Ana, Ca, is offering an amazing lecture series. If you love art and you love your brain, you should check it out! The visit may even make your brain healthier.

Below is information from an email sent by Bowers Museum about the series:

SUNDAY | September 29

Why Creativity Matters: Art in the Brain, the Brain in Art

Presenters: Dr. William R. Shankle, M.D. with Junko Hara, Ph.D., Scientific Advisor, OCVBAP.

Fun brain exercise included.

SUNDAY | October 27

Seeing Life Through the Lens

Presenter: John M. Stephens, Lifetime Achievement award-winning cinematographer, Director of Photography, with over 50 years experience on over 100 films including classic racing film Grand Prix, Titanic, E.T., and more.

Hands-on workshop follows.

SUNDAY | November 24

Exploring the Chuck Jones Side of the Brain

Presenters: Marian Jones, Craig Kausen, Linda Jones-Clough. A glimpse into the genius mind of Chuck Jones, presented by the family.

Hands-on drawing workshop follows.

Check out their website for more information.
http://www.bowers.org/index.php/learn/events_details/2207

If you go, let me know how it was!

*Featured artwork by E.D., age 6

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September 23, 2013 · 4:37 am