BLC Recap: Tips for Healthy Brain Aging

By Russell Phillips, PhD & Healthy Brain Aging Event Attendee

Dr. Janice Schwartz, named one of the best doctors in the U.S. for geriatric medicine, moderated a panel of experts on Healthy Brain Aging for our Business Leadership Council. Members of the panel included; Adam Boxer, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology at UCSF, Gregory Tranah, PhD, Scientist, California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, and Kristine Yaffe, MD, Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology and Epidemiology at UCSF.

The panel discussed the process of what happens to the brain as we age, normal cognitive decline, and the causes of diseases such as Alzheimer's. The researchers on the panel utilized cognitive assessments, neuro-imaging (PET and MRI), and genetics to evaluate brain aging, and consider risk factors and strategies to prevent cognitive decline. Since I work in the field as well, I thought I would share several methods you can  use to keep your brain youthful and your cognitive function high.

The consensus is that “use it or lose it” is the phrase to live by. By developing the core capacities that support cognitive health (for example; the ability to focus on tasks, learn from mistakes, tune into positives, manage stress and develop resilience) brain health can be maintained and even improved.
We have found that training the brain to have a positive outlook helps people better deal with life’s stressors, which can ultimately improve cognitive function and build resilience. Resilience isn’t about ignoring feelings, but rather having the ability to feel pain and anger or confront adversity without becoming paralyzed by it. It won’t make the problems go away, but it may give you a chance to see past them.
Everyone can develop skills to become more resilient by focusing on the positive. It’s not that you either have it or you don’t. Resilience involves thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed by anyone and is achieved by interacting with the environment using strategies that promote well-being. With help from social policies, community, friends and family, resilience is more likely to occur.
The scientific evidence is clear that a positive outlook, "the hallmark of well-being," may actually result in resilience, better brain heath, and success instead of success producing happiness. Positive thinking drives problem solving which in turn, drives outcomes.
Russell Phillips, PhD, is the Director of Research Solutions at Brain Resource, Inc. You can read more about brain health here.


March 14, 2012


The Federation