Brain Bulletin #42 - Building Brain Reserve for Life!

in Brain Bulletin

Have you ever wondered why stress, problems, and the "stuff" life throws at us affect some people a lot more that others? 

It just seems that some people I know have the ability to bounce back = and some don't.

Your brain plays a bigger role in all of this than you ever realized. Your brain responds to the environment based largely upon memories that are already stored in your brain. Brain scientists call this brain reserve. The more resources you have in your brain, the better you cope with life. It's like having extra money in your bank account to get you through tough times.

Here is an excerpt on the important discovery of brain reserve from a soon to be published book: A Magnificent Mind at Any Age by Daniel Amen. Look for it to be released in bookstores in December. Better yet....put it on your holiday reading list!

Increase Your Brain's Reserve

"....I have wondered why some people get depressed after losing a parent while others, although sad, keep going; why some people, after a minor head injury, seem to really be affected, while others don't; or why some people can work many hours straight, while others are completely spent after a short period of time. Several years ago, after looking at many thousands of brain scans, I started to think about the concept of "brain reserve." Brain reserve is the cushion, margin or extra neurons that we have to deal with unexpected events or insults. The more reserve we have, the more stresses or injuries we can handle. The less reserve, the more vulnerable we are.

When we are conceived, let's say, we all start with the same reserve. Many things can erode it, many things can boost it. For example, if your mother smoked, drank much alcohol or was under constant stress when she was pregnant with you, she decreased your brain's reserve. If she took fish oil, listened to classical music and meditated every day, likely she increased your reserve. If you fell down a flight of stairs at age three, were exposed to chronic stress from an alcoholic mother or father during childhood, were sexually molested as a child or teenager, drank too much alcohol or used drugs you decreased or limited your brain's reserve. On the other hand, if you were fed a healthy diet, took fish oil, were raised by loving, consistent parents and were exposed to many different kinds of learning your brain's reserve was likely increased.

Anything that harms brain function, starts to erode your brain's reserve. Here are some factors known to decrease brain reserve...

  • Prenatal or birth injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Drug abuse
  • Negative thinking
  • Poor diet
  • Environmental toxins
  • Chronic stress
  • Lack of sleep/sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Excessive caffeine
  • Too much television or violent video games
  • Lack of exercise

Likewise, maintaining a brain healthy life will increase your reserve or hardiness to deal with pending stresses or trouble. I always want to be increasing my brain reserve, to deal with the crises that inevitably will come my way. Here are a number of ways to do it...

  • Positive social connections
  • New learning
  • Healthy diet
  • A daily multiple vitamin
  • Fish oil
  • Learning music
  • Regular exercise
  • Dancing (of course, without drinking)
  • Positive thinking
  • Gratitude
  • Meditation or prayer

If you wish to stay healthy during stressful times, you need adequate brain reserve. Start working today to add more neurons to your life...." (end)

You can build brain reserve at any age. It's never to early or too late! For more great ways to build brain reserve check out the Brain Bulletin Archive and Products section at:

I am off to speak about the Brain in Leadership in Switzerland next week. I will write to you when I get back. I already have the next Brain Bulletin written.

You are a great group. I love interacting with you. All 16,000 of you around the world.