Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning
Dr. Momo Vuyisich on “Improving the Health of Your Microbiome, Preventing and Reversing Chronic Disease.”

Dr. Momo Vuyisich on “Improving the Health of Your Microbiome, Preventing and Reversing Chronic Disease.”

October 31, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #93 with Dr. Momo Vuyisich, the co-founder and chief science officer of Viome[i], a healthcare disruptor that’s using IA to analyze your gut microbiome to make personalized nutritional recommendations.

You can watch the interview on YouTube here. 

I’m excited to introduce you to Momo Vuyisich, the chief science officer at Viome, who leads their efforts in product development and clinical research. Momo knows all too well of the importance of the gut/brain connection and how we can take control of our own life and health by optimizing our gut microbiome with personalized nutritional recommendations using Viome testing.  

Before co-founding Viome in 2016, Momo spent 12 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory[ii], where he was the leader of the Applied Genomics team. His research focused on applying modern genomics to the areas of gut microbiomes, host-pathogen and microbial inter-species interactions, pathogen detection, cancer biology, toxicology, infectious diseases, and antibiotic resistance.

In this episode, you will learn  

  • How Momo, the founder of Viome.com reversed his rheumatoid arthritis with a change in diet.
  • Forward thinking strategies for taking your health into your own hands.
  • What your poop can tell you about your health.
  • What exactly is microbiome testing and how it works.
  • A vision of the future where chronic disease is preventable and diet is personalized.

“Today we have 100% of the science and technology needed to cure every chronic disease and every cancer.” Momo Vuyisich

“The only way to predict the future is to invent it.”  Momo Vuyisich

Welcome Momo, thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to be here today.

INTRO

Momo, I mentioned to you that I recently did an Dr

Q1: Can you give us your background, and what brought you to where you are today, inspiring your work with Viome, whose on a mission to help the world understand what we uniquely need to be healthy, and ultimately prevent and reverse chronic disease like Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Parkinson’s, MS and Obesity?

Q2: I don’t want to repeat the incredible information you gave Luke DePron on his podcast, so I am posting the links to his episode in the show notes.[iii] For those of us like me who were beginners to understanding what the microbiome is, and the gut/brain connection, you did offer an incredible resource for everyone to check out. You suggested to look up Dr. Robynne Chutkan and her book[iv], The Microbiome Solution, and she has a new book out now called Gut Bliss.  She also did a great intro to understanding the microbiome for CBS Morning News that you can see on her website.[v] Can you give a quick overview on why it’s so important for us to understand our gut microbiome, the gut/brain connection and why true health begins in the gut?

Q3: Before I heard Luke’s podcast with you, I knew that we need to protect our gut microbiome, and that taking a probiotic can help balance our gut and keep us healthy. I also had heard about prebiotics, or foods that were good for gut health, and do try to stick to low glycemic foods. After listening to some of your podcasts, I know there are medicines  (like antibiotics, acid reflux medicine, NSAIDS and birth control pills) that can damage our microbiome and foods that can either help or hurt us, and perhaps that the foods I am choosing from the glycemic index might be spiking my blood sugar?  Can you explain why probiotics are limiting and why different foods can be beneficial to my microbiome, but not yours?

Q4: How are you helping people to understand what they uniquely need to be healthy and allow them to take back control of their health? What exactly do you do at Viome?

Q5: What are you focused on now at Viome, what is your 10-year vision, and what do you need to get there?

Thank you very much for your time today, Momo.

For people who want to learn more about Viome, they can go to Viome.com and learn more about the process of taking the simple at-home test, learning their scores, and the supplements and suggestions for foods they should either avoid, minimize, enjoy and those that are superfoods for them.

Email studies@viome.com if you would like a FREE mold test on your home or workplace.

Thanks so much!

RESOURCES:

The Links Between the Gut Microbiome, Aging, Modern Lifestyle and Alzheimer’s Disease Edited by Ashley E Franks March 18, 2020 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcimb.2020.00104/full

https://www.viome.com/blog

Neuroscience Meets SEL Episode #82 with Doug Sutton “How a Brain Scan Changed My Life.” https://www.achieveit360.com/how-a-brain-scan-changed-my-brain-and-life-with-doug-sutton/

What is the Difference Between a Prebiotic and a Probiotic https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323490

Gut Intelligence Test https://www.viome.com/products/gut-intelligence

Health Intelligence Test https://www.viome.com/products/health-intelligence

Monthly Supplements https://www.viome.com/products/supplements

See if you qualify for an active study at Viome https://www.viome.com/research-institute/studies

REFERENCES:

[i] https://www.viome.com/

[ii] https://www.lanl.gov/ How MomWhat W

[iii] Gut/Microbiome Health with Momo Viyisich on Luke De Pron’s Live Great Lifestyle Podcast http://www.livegreatlifestyle.com/podcast-category/gut-microbiome-health-w-viome-co-founder-dr-momo-vuyisich/

[iv] https://robynnechutn.com/books/

[v] Dr. Robynne Chutkan https://robynnechutkan.com/

Author and Neuroscience Educator Sarah Peyton on “Brain Network Theory, Default Mode Network, Anxiety and Emotion Regulation.”

Author and Neuroscience Educator Sarah Peyton on “Brain Network Theory, Default Mode Network, Anxiety and Emotion Regulation.”

October 24, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #92 with neuroscience educator, author and trainer, Sarah Peyton[i].

You can watch the interview on YouTube here. 

My name is Andrea Samadi,  and if you are new here, I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field, with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, whether you are an educator, or in the corporate space, to take your results to the next level. If we want to improve our social, emotional and cognitive abilities, it all starts with an understanding of our brain. 

I’m so grateful to have been introduced to Sarah Peyton, a neuroscience educator, and author of the book, Your Resonant Self: Guided Meditations and Exercises to Engage Your Brain’s Capacity for Healing[ii].  I took one look at Sarah’s work and website, and immediately had 100 questions for her. She also does have a workbook coming out to accompany this book, this summer. I will put the links in the show notes to learn more.[iii]

Welcome Sarah, thank you so much for your time today, to share your knowledge and resources with us.

Q1: Sarah, Brain Network Theory is now being talked about all over the place, listeners of this podcast, who follow the most current neuroscience research, will have heard about it. There are many books being written on this NEW Brain Network Theory (I’ve mentioned Dr. Srini Pillay and his book about the power of the unfocused mind in past episodes). I’ve been working closely with Mark Waldman (from EPISODE 30)[iv] this past year and know that applying Brain Network Theory to our life can be powerful.

Just as a reminder of what Brain Network Theory is all about, if you were to go to www.pubmed.gov  and search for the most recent studies on the brain, instead of looking at different parts of the brain, like we used to do, we now know and study different networks in the brain to gain understanding, and we can measure and see the activity in each of these brain networks. This is a fascinating discovery that comes to life with these images that we’ve all seen with different regions of our brain lighting up.

Sarah, can you go over some of the brain function networks you cover in the beginning of your book and how an understanding of these networks can help us with our understanding of the world, and our perhaps ways we can improve our results? (seeing the world, decision-making, discerning importance, dorsal attention, listening, sensing and moving)?

Q2: How does trauma show up in the brain?

Q3:  I did cover the Default Mode Network in EPISODE #48[iv] and mention the fact that this Default Mode Network involves those thought processes that can include worry, doubts and fears like “don’t try that, it didn’t work out last time” and so on. Swiss Psychologist Piaget called this “inner speech” that can be positive or negative, depending on what you are thinking.  Chapter 1 of your book begins with “How We Talk to Ourselves: The Default Mode Network” that talks about our beliefs, our self-talk and strategies to overcome some of these limiting beliefs. How would you suggest we first of all identify, and then eliminate limiting beliefs from our brain to improve our results?

Q4: The Default Mode Network has also been linked to the Imagination. Marty Seligman, the founder of positive psychology calls the DMN the Imagination Network and my mentor, Mark Waldman created a diagram which he refers to as a map to simplify the 5 major brain networks, and he intentionally put the DMN or Imagination as the largest area, possibly because it develops so early in life and plays such an important role in child and brain development. How would you explain the Default Mode Network and why is it so important for us to understand this network in our brain with our early years of development in mind?

Q5: On EPISODE #53[v], we dive deep into self-regulation, and why it’s so important. This is such an important topic and one I’m always looking for new ideas with, especially these days, as the event in the world keep most of us on our toes. How do you suggest we stay emotionally regulated?

Q6: With anxiety being at an all-time high for many of our students these days, as well as everyone else, with the looming effects of the pandemic this year, what are your best tips for understanding anxiety and the brain, and what are you telling those you are working with, on how to reduce anxiety?

Q7: Sarah, I could keep asking you another 10 questions but do know that our time is limited. In closing, I wonder what the most important concept is, that you think everyone should know, whether we are educators in the workplace, or parents, with children we are raising, or if we are just trying to find our place in the world and make an impact. How can we best use our brain, and guide others to do the same?

Thank you so much for your time today, Sarah. For those who want to learn more about you, they can go to www.empathybrain.com and sign up for your newsletter and free meditations to help improve brain health and resiliency.   https://empathybrain.com/newsletter/

They can follow you on Twitter @empathybrain

https://www.facebook.com/empathybrain

@yourresonantself on IG

Thanks Sarah!

RESOURCES:

Dr. Srini Pillay Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: The Power of the Unfocused Mind (May 2017) https://www.amazon.com/Tinker-Dabble-Doodle-Try-Unfocused/dp/1101883650

Know Your Brain: The Default Mode Network June 16, 2015 by https://www.neuroscientificallychallenged.com/blog/know-your-brain-default-mode-network

A Brief Introduction to the Default Mode Network YouTube Published May, 2011  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A-RqZzd2JU

Ruth Lanius Neuroscientist and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Western, Ontario, Canada https://www.thetraumatherapistproject.com/podcast/ruth-lanius-phd/

Joseph LeDoux, author of The Emotional Brain, on Trauma, Fear and Memory Consolidation YouTube Published Dec. 2012 “Can Memories be Erased” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km_unuMr-l8

 

Avoiding the Sickening Effects of Stress (July 2016) https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/07/how-to-prevent-stress-from-sickening-the-body/490841/

Matthew Lieberman, Social: Why our brains are wired to connect (July 2015) https://www.amazon.com/Social-Why-brains-wired-connect/dp/0198743815

Beatrice Beebe https://www.beatricebeebe.com/

Jaak Panksepp and his discovery on human emotions https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/discover-interview-jaak-panksepp-pinned-down-humanitys-7-primal-emotions

REFERENCES:

[i] https://empathybrain.com/ Sarah Peyton’s Website

[ii] Your Resonant Self by Sarah Peyton https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074WBVG42/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

[iii] Your Resonant Self Workbook by Sarah Peyton https://www.amazon.com/Your-Resonant-Self-Workbook-Self-sabotage/dp/0393714640/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=your+resonant+self&qid=1602474119&sr=8-2

[iv] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #48 “Brain Network Theory” https://www.achieveit360.com/brain-network-theory-using-neuroscience-to-stay-productive-during-times-of-change-and-chaos/

[v] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #53 on “Self-Regulation and Your Brain” https://www.achieveit360.com/self-regulation-the-foundational-learning-skill-for-future-success/

Behavior Experts Drs. Jessica and John Hannigan on “SEL From a Distance: Tools and Processes from Anytime, Anywhere.”

Behavior Experts Drs. Jessica and John Hannigan on “SEL From a Distance: Tools and Processes from Anytime, Anywhere.”

October 18, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #91, with Jessica and John Hannigan, the authors of the brand-new book, SEL From a Distance: Tools and Processes for Anytime, Anywhere. [i] This is a timely and importance topic, with the pandemic this year, and subsequent switch to distance learning combined with recent instances of racial injustice has put a spotlight on the cracks in the practice of social and emotional learning (SEL). I launched this podcast in June of 2019 when I saw the need to highlight leaders in the field of SEL, but now, more than ever before, schools are shifting their focus and prioritizing SEL competencies—around the nation and the world. 

 

Watch this interview on YouTube here. 

 

My name is Andrea Samadi,  and if you are new here, I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field, with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, whether you are an educator, or in the corporate space, to take your results to the next level. If we want to improve our social, emotional and cognitive abilities, it all starts with an understanding of our brain. 

 

Today I am thrilled to have behavior experts Jessica and John Hannigan, who have drawn together a collection of tools and processes for social and emotional learning that can be applied in any learning environment with their NEW book, SEL from a Distance.

 

Dr. Jessica Hannigan is an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership Department at California State University, Fresno. She works with schools and districts across the nation on designing and implementing effective behavior systems. Her expertise includes response-to-intervention (RTI) behavior, multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS), positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS), social and emotional learning (SEL), and more.

 

John E. Hannigan, EdD , is an executive leadership coach for Fresno County Superintendent of Schools in California. He has served in education for over 15 years as a principal, assistant principal, instructional coach, and teacher. Under his leadership, his school has received numerous awards and recognitions, including California State Distinguished School, Gold Ribbon School, Title I Academic School, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (Platinum Level). 

 

Hannigan, Jessica,Hannigan, John E. (2106-02-06T23:28:15). SEL From a Distance (Kindle Locations 410-414). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

 

In SEL from a Distance, you’ll learn: 

  • The five SEL competencies and dozens of easy to use processes for building skills in each.
  • How to identify challenging behaviors and prioritize, define mastery, and teach the SEL skills necessary to address them.
  • Tips for identifying, teaching, modeling, and reinforcing SEL skills in a virtual setting.
  • Strategies for applying SEL to the needs of your unique learning environment.

Welcome Jessica and John, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, and sharing this new resource for those listening around the world. 

For this interview, I did want to read what others are saying about this new book, with a question attached to each testimonial.  I really do think that everyone listening should go to the link below, and grab a copy of this book, whether you are an educator, or someone looking for ideas to implement social and emotional learning competencies with your children, this book is a must read.

Just to give you both some background, since we are just meeting, my interest in social and emotional learning goes back over 20 years ago, when I was a frustrated educator, with no resources in the area of behavior management. When I see a book like yours, I really do want the world to know about it.  Here’s what other leaders in the field of education are saying about your book:

INTRO QUESTIONS

“People are seeing the importance of SEL, and Jessica Hannigan and John Hannigan have written a timely and responsive book that will help teachers and leaders create opportunities for students to become more independent and successful now, during distance learning, and in the future.” Peter DeWitt, Author/Blogger/Consultant 

 

Q1: I love how you begin this book by addressing what is SEL, and why is it so important. This is exactly how I started this podcast, when I saw a need to showcase leaders in SEL in one place. Why is SEL important now, more than ever?

“With the rise in anxiety, depression, and suicide over the last few years, schools have faced the challenge of how to address the social and emotional needs of all students. Now, during the pandemic, the need is more acute, and schools require more assistance. SEL From a Distance offers an easy-to-follow framework to build our students’ skills in the key SEL competencies. The authors have taken a complex topic and created an easy-to-use guide for school teams and leaders. Any school searching for what to do next should pick up this book.” Brian Jaramillo, Executive Director of Education Services Lompoc Unified SD

Q2: I also love the framework that you chose, honoring the work that CASEL[ii] has done with their 5 SEL competencies.  We did interview Karen Niemi, the president of CASEL on EPISODE #62[iii] since their work around SEL has been so robust. When writing the Tools and Processes section, that focuses on each of the 5 competencies, how did you brainstorm the sub-sections within each competency? For example, under self-awareness, you have sub-sections of identifying emotions, self-perception, and strengths, with tools for each sub section. Can you share how you came up with these subsections, that create the powerful framework for this book?

Chapter 7. Self-Awareness Tools and Processes

SEL Competency: Self-Awareness

Identifying Emotions

Tool 1: Daily SEL Check-In

Tool 2: Virtual Mindfulness Minutes

Self-Perception

Tool 1: “Virtual Camera Imagery” Exercise

Tool 2: Email/Letter to Self Recognizing

Strengths

Tool 1: Growth Mindset Exercise

Tool 2: Self-Esteem Lesson

Tool 3: Help-Seeking Prompts

Hannigan, Jessica,Hannigan, John E. (2106-02-06T23:28:15). SEL From a Distance (Kindle Locations 286-296). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

 

“Social and emotional skills they are lacking via distance learning, and this book solves that problem. It is structured so that the reader and school teams can implement the techniques and strategies to best meet the needs of their students. The rubrics and activities can be easily implemented into core curriculum content across all grade levels. I highly recommend this book for all school staff, support staff, and district office personnel to truly understand how to implement SEL in a concrete and appropriate way to ensure student success.”

Brooke Warkentin , Director of Special Services Lemoore Union Elementary School District, CA

Q3: I have heard over and over again, “how will SEL be implemented with Distance Learning?” and your book was clearly written with this purpose in mind? How are teachers implementing the rubrics and activities into core curriculum?

“What is great about this book is that it provides a clear process to identify students’ needs followed by effective and practical methods to teach these critical social and emotional skills. The learning and support students receive will help them at school, at home, and within their communities for the rest of their lives. The book does an excellent job of supporting educators in an area where we often struggle and need additional support.” Eduardo Ochoa, Assistant Superintendent Lemoore Union Elementary School District, CA

Q4: I’ve heard that many teachers know that SEL is important, but they don’t have a clear starting point, or plan in place for SEL. They aren’t sure if they should buy a whole program or use the kernel approach of implementing some ideas on a smaller scale. How does this book identify students’ needs and create a clear path for the SEL skills they need whether they are in school, their homes, or in their community?

“My teacher helps us use strategies to relax our brains when we are feeling stressed.” Harmon, 4th Grade, CA 

“My teacher told our class, ‘If you need someone to talk to, I am here for you.’ This was powerful to hear. I have never had a teacher say that to an entire class before.” Ani, 12th Grade, MO

Q5: What are students saying about the activities they are doing? Are there any specific stories you can share with feedback from students?

Q6: Is there anything important, that we have missed?

For those who want to learn more about your book, they can get it right now through Corwin, Press, or from Amazon. What is the best way for people to reach you?

@Jess_Hannigan

@JohnHannigan75 on Twitter.

Equity in School Discipline FB Group  https://www.facebook.com/groups/792746961121756

RESOURCES:

Peter DeWitt http://www.petermdewitt.com/

Casel’s SEL Competencies Framework PDF https://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/CASEL-SEL-Framework-10.2020-1.pdf

Behavior Solutions by Jessica and John Hannigan, Mike Mattos and Austin Buffum https://www.solutiontree.com/behavior-solutions.html

Don’t Suspend Me, Jessica and John Hannigan

https://us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/dont-suspend-me/book252372

Netflix The Social Dilemma https://www.netflix.com/title/81254224

Corwin Press 30% off till the end of the year with CODE SELNOW https://us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/sel-from-a-distance/book276617

[i] SEL From a Distance https://us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/sel-from-a-distance/book276617

[ii] Casel.org’s 5 CORE SEL Competencies https://casel.org/sel-framework/

[iii] Neuroscience Meets SEL EPISODE #62 with Karen Niemi, President of CASEL https://www.achieveit360.com/ceo-and-president-of-casel-karen-niemi-on-tools-and-strategies-to-enhance-and-expand-sel-in-our-schools-and-communities/

Host of the Live Great Lifestyle Podcast, Luke DePron on “Neuroscience, Health, Fitness and Growth.”

Host of the Live Great Lifestyle Podcast, Luke DePron on “Neuroscience, Health, Fitness and Growth.”

October 14, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #90 with Luke DePron, a Men’s Health & Performance Coach[i], and graduate of Exercise Science, Kinesiology. Luke has done everything from personal training with 100s of clients, to working alongside Drs of Chiropractic as a corrective exercise specialist, training Olympic level athletes, to performance work with world champion mixed martial arts fighters.

Watch this episode on YouTube here. 

Currently Luke works as a Men’s Online Health and Performance Coach—learn more at http://www.livegreatlifestyle.com/ where he helps men step into a lifestyle approach of exercise and nutrition to transform their physique, energy, and confidence. 

He’s also the Host of the Live Great Lifestyle Podcast[ii] where he’s interviewed former Navy Seals, Mixed Martial Arts world champions, New York Times best-selling authors, personal development speakers, Olympic athletes, adventure athletes, Doctors, Nutrition experts, and inspirational leaders carving unique paths in the world to inspire and empower you to level up your health, fitness, mindset, and lifestyle. Exactly the type of person I look for as a speaker on this podcast.

I love that Luke is a believer that stepping out of your comfort zone leads to growth, and he’s always aiming high, routinely practicing Jiu-Jitsu, was a participant on the History Channels show The Selection: a mock special forces selection process led by Navy Seals, was a contributing writer for Huffington post, hosted the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival, has performed as an actor in local San Diego films, and even worked as a runway model once.

Welcome Luke, what a diverse background.  I’m so grateful for our connection on Linkedin, and really do appreciate you referring our last interview with Dr. Erik Won that I just did yesterday.

  1. I know that you are the host ofThe Live Great Lifestyle podcast with a mission to inspire and empower men to live their life to its greatest potential.  Can you give an overview of your past, (that’s full of achievement as much as I know you don’t like to boast about it) and how your past brought you to where you are now?
  2. I loved your interview with Dr. Erik Won and the Wave Neuroscience team. I learned so much from your interview. I did stop your podcast often to take notes, as learning Dr. Won’s method of measuring the brain is much different than my experience with a SPECT scan. What made you see the importance of understanding neuroscience as it relates to health/wellness?
  3. Diving Deeper- when studying and learning about the brain, there is a learning curve. I remember the first time my good friend, Mark Waldman, a neuroscience researcher sat down with me on Skype in my first attempts at learning “how the brain works” and I can honestly say, I had no idea what he was talking about. I had never studied the brain. I might as well have been learning Spanish. When I listened to your interview with Dr. Won, you had a solid understanding of how his EEG brain mapping technology worked with the rhythm of the brain. You mentioned to me later that you actually went into their offices and had your brain scanned at Wave Neuro. Can you explain what you learned from Dr. Won’s EEG and how did you learn enough about his technology to dive deeper with your questions with him as it relates to athletes and training?
  4. Who has inspired you the most as it relates to applying brain science to your work?
  5. What is your vision for your podcast and fitness training? I don’t see you as the average trainer. What are you doing differently than others?

For those who want to learn more about you, and follow your Live Great Lifestyle podcast podcast, I will put a link in the show notes, and what’s the best way to learn more about you? Is it LiveGreatLifestyle.com?

 

Thank you, Luke, first of all for all you have done to support the work I’m doing here. I really wouldn’t have anyone to interview without people like you connecting me to other people who are a fit. I do wish you the best with your work, and know that you will continue to make an impact on the lives of those who are looking to improve their health, whether it’s from your personal training, or your podcast. Thanks for everything.

RESOURCES:

LeBron James Partners with the Calm App to Promote Mental Fitness. https://www.thesportofphilanthropy.com/shining-star/lebron-james-partners-with-calm-app-to-promote-mental-fitness

3 Ways to Reverse Your Biological Age by Dave Asprey https://blog.daveasprey.com/reverse-biological-age/

Dave Asprey Blog on Anti-Aging  https://blog.daveasprey.com/?s=ANTI+AGING

Huberman Lab, Stanford University  http://www.hubermanlab.com/huberman-lab-team.html

Box Breathing https://www.healthline.com/health/box-breathing

James Nester Breath (May 26, 2020).  https://www.amazon.com/Breath-New-Science-Lost-Art/dp/0735213615

REFERENCES:

[i] http://www.livegreatlifestyle.com/

[ii] Live Great Lifestyle Podcast with Luke DePron http://www.livegreatlifestyle.com/podcast/

 

President of Wave Neuroscience Dr. Erik Won on “Ground-Breaking Technology That is Changing the Future of Mental Health”

President of Wave Neuroscience Dr. Erik Won on “Ground-Breaking Technology That is Changing the Future of Mental Health”

October 11, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #89 with Dr. Erik Won, a Harvard trained doc turned Navy flight surgeon before becoming CTO of Boeing Aerospace. Now he is the President and CMO of Wave Neuroscience, a company dedicated to creating a world where every individual—regardless of socioeconomic status, can improve their mind. Erik and the team at Wave Neuroscience are the world leading experts in Brain Health, Brain Injuries, PTSD, Depression/Anxiety among others. The tech they’ve pioneered involves using computational analytics to solve problems that have never been tackled before in the mental health space and they are doing it non-evasively, with no medications of any kind.

Watch the interview with Dr. Won on YouTube here. 

I feel so lucky to have been introduced to Dr. Won, from another podcaster, Luke DePron,[i] a former actor, turned lifestyle and fitness entrepreneur who told me that I needed to take a look at the WaveNeuro[ii] Science Team.   Luke sent me a link to the podcast he did with Dr. Erik Won and Navy Seal Ned Mason[iii],  (if you want to listen to it, you can access it in the show notes). I was blown away with what Erik and his team are doing. If you have been interested in our past few episodes where we talk about the importance of looking at the brain, to improve performance, you will know that this is not just something that is for those involved in Special Operations in the military, elite athletes, or for people who are struggling with a brain disorder. The WaveNeuro Science Team is dealing more and more with mainstream people, like you and me, who are looking to improve their performance.

Welcome Dr. Won, thank you so much for agreeing to come on the podcast to share what you are doing to help the world to improve their brains and minds with this groundbreaking technology.

Before we get to the questions, I wanted to let you know that I watched your interview with Dhru Purohit (Proit) on his Broken Brain Podcast, and I’m so glad I watched that interview, prior to this one. My last podcast episode was with Dr. Andrew Newberg, the Director of Research at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, who has dedicated his research to a topic he calls neurotheology, or connecting our brain to our spiritual and religious nature, so when I heard that you actually considered becoming a priest, early in your career, I didn’t think it was an accident that I have this opportunity to interview you after Dr. Newberg, and learn how you chose your current career path, driving you with your mission and purpose to help people with their mental health, which we need more than ever these days.

Dr. Won, to get straight into the questions, I was drawn to your work after listening to your interview with Luke DePron because my husband and I recently had a SPECT image brain scan, to see if we could learn anything about ways to improve our health. I was taking tons of notes and had to rewind the interview a few times to learn how you are measuring the activity in the brain and diagnosing ways to optimize brain health with your ground breaking technology.

  1. What is the difference between a SPECT image brain scan, and how you are scanning brains at WaveNeuro.com using EEG?
  2. Can you explain exactly how the EEG scans work? Let’s say, if I’m an athlete with a traumatic brain injury, and I come in to get an EEG scan, what would your technology and treatment program look like after the scan?
  3. From the brain scans that you have done, what are seeing in the brains of regular people vs elite athletes? Is a faster processing brain better?  Can you look at someone and guess, oh they are healthy, I bet their brain is processing on the higher side? What has surprised you the most from the research you have been doing the past 10 years, and over 10,000 brain scans?
  4. I know that brain scans seem to be something that elite athletes do, to improve performance, and they have the reputation of being expensive. What do you think the future holds for people who want to “look” at their brain to optimize performance? Will it eventually be something everyone could do for a low cost, or even free, do you think?
  5. We are seeing loud and clear that there are some staples for brain health that we should all be aware of. (Improving sleep, Diet, Exercise, Optimizing Our Microbiome, and Intermittent Fasting). What are the most important health staples that you are seeing, with your work in this field?
  6. What about memory? I’ve mentioned that I scored low on my brain scan with memory recall. Is this something that you think we should just work on (to improve memory muscle?) What about processing speed. I also scored low on my ability to hit a key on a keyboard over and over again. What is processing speed important for with everyday life, and of all the people you come to see, what are most people worried about the most?
  7. Can you spot diseases like Alzheimer’s in the brain from your EEG scans?
  8. I was speaking with Sean Bartlett, your public relations manager, preparing for this interview, to capture your vision for the future with these questions, and he let me know that something that’s important to you is to find a more functional way of diagnosing mental health issues in the future.  He shared with me an article by the former NIMH Director, Thomas Insel,[iv] that talks of the new direction for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5). How is your work with the brain helping to take the subjectivity out of mental health and aiming for a new functional way of diagnosing mental health in the future?
  9. To bring this podcast to a close, is there anything important that we have missed, that you think is important to cover, to end on a positive note for those listening around the world?

Thank you so much Dr. Won for your time today, to explain this mind-blowing technology to us. To learn more about about WaveNeuro Science, I will post the links in the show notes, and anyone can go to www.waveneuro.com, find LinkedIn @wave-neuroscience, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @Waveneuro.

https://waveneuro.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaveNeuro/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/WaveNeuro/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/WaveNeuro/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/wave-neuroscience

 

RESOURCES:

EEG vs MRI vs FMRI “What’s the Difference” by Bryn Farmsworth, Ph.D July 12, 2019 https://imotions.com/blog/eeg-vs-mri-vs-fmri-differences/

Dr. David Perlmutter’s “Alzheimer’s: The Science of Prevention” EPISODE 10 on Sleep  https://scienceofprevention.com/

About Blue Light and Your Health  https://rhythmoptics.com/pages/how-blue-light-effects-health

Health Benefits of Transcendental Meditation https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/transcendental-meditation-benefits-technique

If You Feel Thankful, Write it Down. It’s Good for Your Health (Dec. 24th, 2018). https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/12/24/678232331/if-you-feel-thankful-write-it-down-its-good-for-your-health

WOOP Device for Measuring Sleep https://www.whoop.com/thelocker/how-well-whoop-measures-sleep/

Oura Ring for Sleep Tracking https://ouraring.com/

Apple Watch Series 6 for Sleep Tracking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=088iZo3grgM

Matthew Walker Why We Sleep (Oct. 3, 2017)  https://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Sleep-Matthew-Walker-audiobook/dp/B0752XRB5F/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=why+we+sleep&qid=1602444165&sr=8-1

Ketones Improves Apolipoprotein E4-related memory deficiency via sirtuin 3

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31280254/

2-Photon Excitation Microscopy https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4004770/

How Sleep Cleans the Brain https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-sleep-clears-brain

11 Ways Your Life Can Disrupt the Gut Microbiome https://atlasbiomed.com/blog/11-ways-your-life-can-disrupt-the-gut-microbiome/

REFERENCES:

[i] Luke Depron, former actor, turned lifestyle and fitness expert and host of The Live Great Lifestyle Podcast https://lukedepron.com/

[ii] WaveNeuro.com Team Understanding and Improving Your Cognitive Health https://www.waveneuro.com/

[iii] Luke Depron, host of Live Great Lifestyle on Understanding Your Brain Function and Performance https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/neuroscience-brain-health-optimize-your-brain-function/id1375402072

[iv] Post by former NIMH Director Thomas Insel on Transforming Diagnosis. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

 

Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg M.D. on Demystifying the Human Brain with “Neurotheology, Spect Scans and Strategies for the Aging Brain.”

Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg M.D. on Demystifying the Human Brain with “Neurotheology, Spect Scans and Strategies for the Aging Brain.”

October 3, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #88 with Dr. Andrew Newberg, M.D[i]. an American neuroscientist who is the Director of Research at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital,[1]  and the author of ten books (translated into 6 languages), and over 200 articles on neuroimaging in neuropsychiatric disorders and also on neuroscience and religion.

Watch the interview on YouTube here. 

I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to speak with Andrew, as he has been exploring the topic of neurotheology, which addresses the relationship between the brain and religious experiences, since his teenage years.

Andrew is the co-author of the bestselling book, How God Changes Your Brain[ii] (2009) which was chosen by Oprah for her book club that same year[iii] and Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief (2001)[iv] which both explore the relationship between neuroscience and spiritual experience. He has also co-authored Words Can Change Your Brain (2013)[v] Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality and Truth (2008)[vi] and The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Belief (1999). The latter book received the 2000 award for Outstanding Books in Theology and the Natural Sciences presented by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences[vii] which is an organization that focuses on building bridges between theology and science.

I’ve got some powerful, insightful, thought provoking questions for Andy, and I know you will find this topic interesting, especially with his ability to share his insights and years of research, from the point of view of pure science.

My name is Andrea Samadi,  and if you are new here, I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field, with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, whether you are an educator, or in the corporate space, to take your results to the next level. If we want to improve our social, emotional and cognitive abilities, it all starts with an understanding of our brain.

Welcome Andy and thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of this fascinating topic on the podcast today.

For anyone who knows your schedule, this is a rare opportunity, and I’m grateful for Mark Waldman[viii] for connecting us after the webinar you did last week where you addressed many powerful and mind-boggling questions that connect theology and neuroscience that I know will benefit those who listen to this podcast in different part of the world.

Q1: Andy, I have had so much interest in this podcast, even before we had booked our time to speak today. I just put up a graphic with your book cover “How God Changes Your Brain” and the messages started coming in on all social media accounts. Then I quoted something you say in the book “the more you think about God, the more you alter the neural circuitry of in specific parts of the brain”...and then you say with the utmost confidence that “God can change your brain.” (Andrew Newberg M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, How God Changes Your Brain).

Can we begin here?  Where did your interest in religion and the human brain begin? What is Neurotheology? What does neuroscience say about whether there is a God or not?

Q2: I have to ask it. I grew up going to church every Sunday, (Presbyterian), read and studied the Bible, and really do believe in the 10 Commandments but I still don’t really know how I would explain God, other than the fact that I just believe he exists and I do feel more connected to God/spirit when I’m in nature. I know that you have scanned the brains of Franciscan nuns and charted the neurological changes that happen in the brain.  What is God? Is God the same as consciousness? What does your research show about religion and the human brain? Is there a certain area you would look at that connects my religious beliefs to my brain?

Q3: You covered this on the training you did for Mark Waldman’s group last week, but I think it’s so important to talk about today. It’s about the power of intercessory prayer (praying on behalf of others).  It’s a component of the Dr. Daniel Siegel’s “Wheel of Awareness[ix]” Meditation where we are asked to focus on those who we are close to and send loving/kindness to those in our communities, cities, state, country and expanding to the world. What does your research say about praying for someone far away? Is it possible to measure one person who might not put the focused attention towards the person they are praying for verses someone else who focuses with intent, loving, and kindness? Can prayer really impact those close or far from us?

Q4: You mentioned on that call you did last week, that you did a brain scan, an MRI, where they measured your brain, and your memory, by asking you to remember 10 words. This caught my attention, because I just had my brain scanned using a SPECT SCAN and, the results showed I scored low (1/10) on recall memory which I feel was accurate. For the life I me, I couldn’t remember random words during the test.  But I can remember things word for word, from over 30 years ago (conversations with people, or speeches from 12 years ago). From the brain scans that you have done, what are some strategies that you have seen for people like me, looking to improve memory recall? How did YOU do on that MRI test?  What other techniques have you seen people use to improve their memory?

Q5: I just finished watching Dr. David Perlmutter’s Alzheimer’s, the Science of Prevention Series[x] that focuses on the staple things we should all be doing to prevent this debilitating disease that has he mentions no known or meaningful cure. We all know that sleep, diet and exercise and important for protecting the aging brain, but what else have you found to be an important practice to preserve our brain health? What do you do?

Q6: We’ve covered belief or paradigms on this podcast, with different episodes and speakers. What do you think from your experience working with the brain? What are beliefs, how do they form, where are they stored, and how can we change old/outdated beliefs?

Q7: In closing, is there anything that’s important to this topic, that we haven’t discussed today?

RESOURCES:

The Principles of Neurotheology by Andrew Newberg, M.D.  http://www.andrewnewberg.com/books/principles-of-neurotheology

Kirtan Kriya Meditation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfKEAiwrgeY

 

REFERENCES:

[i] www.andrewnewberg.com

[ii] How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist, Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman (March 20, 2009) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001Y35GDS/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

[iii] Oprah’s Book Club http://www.oprah.com/book/How-God-Changes-Your-Brain-by-Andrew-Newberg-MD-and-Mark-Waldman?editors_pick_id=35314

[iv] Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief by Andrew Newberg M.D., Eugene D’Aquili, and Vince Rause (2001) https://www.amazon.com/Why-God-Wont-Go-Away-ebook/dp/B001NJUP7U/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=why+god+wont+go+away&qid=1601599952&sr=8-1

[v] Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy by Andrew Newberg M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman  https://www.amazon.com/Words-Can-Change-Your-Brain-ebook/dp/B0074VTHMA/ref=sr_1_1?crid=21MDUEAMV1M7U&dchild=1&keywords=words+can+change+your+brain&qid=1601600126&s=digital-text&sprefix=words+can+chan%2Cdigital-text%2C191&sr=1-1

[vi] Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering Our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality and Truth by Andrew Newberg M.D. https://www.amazon.com/Why-Believe-What-Uncovering-Spirituality/dp/0743274970/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=why+we+believe+what+we+believe+newberg&qid=1601600285&s=digital-text&sr=1-1-catcorr

[vii] Center for Theology and Natural Sciences https://www.ctns.org/

[viii] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #30 with Mark Robert Waldman on “12 Brain-Based Experiential Learning and Living Practices” https://www.achieveit360.com/neuroscience-researcher-mark-robert-waldman-on-12-brain-based-experiential-learning-and-living-principles/

[ix] Dan Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness Meditation https://www.drdansiegel.com/resources/wheel_of_awareness/

[x] Alzheimer’s: The Science of Prevention Series with Dr. David Perlmutter https://scienceofprevention.com/

 

“The Top 5 Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategies” with Andrea Samadi

“The Top 5 Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategies” with Andrea Samadi

September 24, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #87 on “5 Important Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategies That Everyone Should Know”

My name is Andrea Samadi,  and if you are new here, I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field, with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, whether you are an educator, or in the corporate space, to take your results to the next level. If we want to improve our social, emotional and cognitive abilities, it all starts with an understanding of our brain. 

If you have been following this podcast, you will know that my husband and I had a SPECT image brain scan completed at Dr. Amen’s Clinics, to see if there was anything that we needed to be aware of, to make targeted improvements to our brain health and life, with the idea of preventing cognitive decline, and looking to see if we showed signs of Alzheimer’s that can be seen in the brain years before signs and symptoms show up. If you missed episode #84[i] where I revealed my results of the brain scan, go back and listen to this episode before you listen to this one.

If we want to take our results the next level, the best way to do this is by getting a clear picture of what is going on with the organ, your brain, that controls pretty much everything that you do. You might be like me and don’t have any signs or symptoms that you notice, that are giving you problems, but you want to be as healthy as you can to tackle life’s everyday challenges, with more ease. Or, you might be like my friend Doug Sutton, who shared on episode #82[ii] that he was experiencing brain fog and low energy.  You can do what we did and get a SPECT image brain scan and follow the treatment plan based on what your scans show. Our plan begins with taking brain health supplements, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, improving our sleep and looking closer at our current health with blood tests. We are working closely with Dr. Creado, from Dr. Amen’s Chicago Clinic as we implement these new strategies for improvement. Many people begin to feel better subjectively and can feel mentally sharper from these strategies. I can say that some of the supplements that we began taking from Dr. Amen’s Brain  MD[iii], like their Brain and Body Power Max, I felt an immediate difference with clarity and the ability to focus. After a year or more, many people choose to rescan their brain to see what changes occur physically from their treatment plan.

There is also another option for looking at your brain that I have recently learned about. I was contacted on LinkedIn, by one of my connections, another podcaster, Luke DePron,[iv] a former actor, turned lifestyle and fitness entrepreneur who told me that I needed to take a look at the WaveNeuro[v] Science Team.   He sent me a link to the podcast he did with Dr. Erik Won and Navy Seal Ned Mason[vi], and when I listened to it, I was blown away with what they are doing. If you have been interested in our past few episodes where we talk about the importance of looking at the brain, to improve performance, you will know that this is not just something that is for those involved in Special Operations in the military, elite athletes, or for people who are struggling with a brain disorder. The WaveNeuro team is dealing more and more with mainstream people, like you and me, who are looking to improve their performance. Stay tuned, as I have on the radar, to interview Dr. Erik Won and Ned Mason, to dive deeper into how they are measuring the brain with EEG (electroencephalogram) that is designed to measure the electrical activity of the brain) to see what parts of the brain are cycling too fast or too slow, and then optimizing these parts from this data. To put it plain and simple, I was speaking with WaveNeuro’s Head of PR, Sean Bartlett, and he reminded me that “what gets measured, gets managed” or you may have heard it another way with measuring data “what we measure, we improve.” Before getting a SPECT scan, and looking at my brain, I had no idea what I was doing for my brain health. I was eating well, exercising, taking supplements, but still when I had my scan evaluation, Dr. Creado, from Amen’s Clinics, told me that “for someone doing a lot of things right, I don’t like how your brain looks” and now we can target certain areas to improve. But I wouldn’t know what to do, if I didn’t look.  After speaking with Sean, over at WaveNeuro, I now have another angle or solution, for how we can look at and measure our brain health. I can’t wait to share what they are doing over there with their groundbreaking technology.

The case is clear that in order to move the needle the most with our health, there are some important areas that we can come to a consensus that are crucial to pay attention to. I decided to write this episode on the TOP 5 brain health strategies that we should all know, and why they are important for Alzheimer’s prevention after I watched Dr. David Perlmutter’s “Alzheimer’s: The Science of Prevention[vii]” program last week that dove deep into the strategies involved in preventing Alzheimer’s. I am working on getting Dr. Perlmutter on as a guest here, to dive deeper into these strategies, because I think this topic is of high importance for everyone to understand. We know that Alzheimer’s disease now affects “more than 5 million Americans and is the most common form of dementia, a term that describes a variety of diseases and conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function normally.”[viii]

I was interested in learning more on this topic, since it was one of the reasons, we did scan our brain in the first place. The pattern of Alzheimer’s can be seen in the brain years before signs and symptoms show up, so when I saw Dr. Perlmutter’s Alzheimer’s Prevention series, I watched every episode to learn what brain experts across the country are saying about the top ways to prevent this disease, that currently has no know or meaningful treatment but I was given some hope when I learned that “you can change the direction of your cognitive destiny” (From Max Lugavere,[ix] Health and Science Journalist and NYT Bestselling Author, Genius Foods). Here is how we can take control of our health and future, with the TOP 5 health staples that I think we should all know and how they play a role in Alzheimer’s prevention.

 

Health Staple 1: Daily Exercise: This seems to be the solution for every single brain problem, so I think that this is the most important strategy, and the reason why I block out exercise time on my schedule as non-negotiable. If we can incorporate 30 minutes of brisk walking every day, we will be miles ahead with our brain health. It wasn’t until I started to measure my activity, that I started to see that 30 minutes of walking really did make a difference. I didn’t need to be running or working really hard (like I used to think I had to do) to notice a difference, but I did need to put in some effort to move the needle.  The benefits  of daily, consistent exercise “come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.”[x]  If for some reason, this whole idea of exercising still doesn’t sound the least bit interesting to you, you might be surprised like I was, that household activities like vacuuming, or raking leaves, or anything that gets your heart rate up, like shoveling snow (something I haven’t done in years since I moved from Toronto)—but these activities can also fall into the category of moderate exercise. The idea is whatever you choose, that it remains consistent, so it eventually becomes something you do habitually.

 

ALZHEIMER’S PREVENTION THOUGHT FOR DAILY EXERCISE:

If exercise reduces insulin resistance and inflammation, it would make sense that it also reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s. Studies show that “people who are physically active, have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly have improved thinking.”[xi]

 

Health Staple 2: Getting Good Quality Sleep: Making sure we are getting at least 7- 8 hours each night. I think that we have seen the importance of sleep with our interview with sleep expert Dr. Shane Creado, on episode #72[xii] and with Dr. Sarah McKay on episode #85.[xiii] It is clear that sleep deprivation causes poor health and performance because it’s not allowing enough time for the brain to wash and clean itself. With less than 7 hours of sleep each night, the “trash”[xiv] builds up in our brain, that leads us farther away from health.  I learned from health expert Darin Olien from the Darin Olien Show[xv] --he’s the one who did the Netflix Docuseries with Zac Efron called “Down to Earth with Zac Efron[xvi]” that studies show that “almost all neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, are created when protein waste accumulates in the brain, which in turn slowly suffocates and kills the brain’s neurons.”[xvii]  We also know that the brain shows lower functioning to important areas when it’s sleep deprived.

ALZHEIMER’S PREVENTION THOUGHT FOR THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP:

Dr. David Perlmutter, on his Alzheimer’s Science of Prevention Series, made a clear case for the fact that “sleep deprivation is directly linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease” and that “sleep plays an important role…impacting our risk for developing this condition.” He went on to remind us that “from a medical perspective, we cannot afford a bad night’s sleep” and that “sleep is essential if we want to retain optimal function of our body and our brains.”[xviii]

Health Staple 3: Eating a Healthy Diet: Eliminating sugar and processed foods. We hear this all the time and know intuitively what feels good when we eat it, and what makes our body feel tired, lethargic and just plain bad. The goal is to eliminate “the brain robbers that steal our energy and do what helps it, not hurts it.”[xix]  There are two specific moments that I remember were life-changing when it came to my diet.

The first was around 2005 when I was seeing a foot doctor, Dr. Richard Jacoby, for foot numbness after exercise, and he asked me to eliminate sugar completely from my diet.  I was looking for solutions to why I couldn’t feel the top of my foot during exercise, and I didn’t show any signs of diabetes, but this doctor was writing a book, that is now released called Sugar Crush: How to Reduce Inflammation, Reverse Nerve Damage and Reclaim Good Health[xx]  and he was convinced that sugar intake was at the root of most health problems. He suggested that I take fish oil, and learn to avoid higher glycemic foods, and the results that occurred were so impactful, that I wished I had done this sooner. The benefits of cutting out sugar from my diet only snowballed my health for the better down the road. When I was ready to have children, I was a bit worried that I would have some challenges here, as I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) in my late 20s and told that I might need to take fertility drugs to conceive,  but surprisingly, after some tests, my doctor told me that I no longer had this condition, that it appears to have reversed, and she asked me what I had done. The only thing I did was exercise, take fish oil and cut out sugar.

The second life-changing Aha Moment around diet was focused around intermittent fasting, that I talk about in point #5, but it was also eye opening when I started to follow Dave Asprey, the author of the NYT bestseller The Bulletproof Diet: Lose Up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Focus, Upgrade Your Life[xxi] and creator of Bulletproof Coffee[xxii].  Who would ever have thought that putting butter, coconut oil or MCT oil in your coffee would help you to increase your energy and stay lean? I heard this idea first from bodybuilder and fitness expert Jason Wittrock[xxiii] from watching his YouTube channel where he explains exactly what goes into a keto coffee, and why it’s good for your energy levels. He explains the science behind the keto diet and was a great resource for me when I was learning that eating fats, won’t make me fat. Thomas DeLauer[xxiv] is also a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about intermittent fasting, or the ketogenic diet.

ALZHEIMER’S PREVENTION THOUGHT FOR EATING A HEALTY DIET:

Did you know that sugar in the brain “looks like Alzheimer’s” in the brain,  and that “60% of cognitive decline is related to how you handle blood sugar?”[xxv] There was a study that followed “5,189 people over 10 years and found that people with high blood sugar had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar—whether or not their blood-sugar level technically made them diabetic. In other words, the higher the blood sugar, the faster the cognitive decline.”[xxvi]

Did you know that with Type 2 Diabetes, you have almost double the risk for Alzheimer’s Disease, that has no known treatment? If you have type 2 diabetes, your goal would be to do everything that you can to manage your blood sugar, by eating good carbs[xxvii] (complex carbs with fiber),  eat lower glycemic foods[xxviii] that balance your blood sugar levels, instead of throwing them off balance with high levels of sugar.

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

Above is an image of a healthy brain, from Dr. Amen’s Clinics, showing even, symmetrical and smooth blood flow to all areas in the healthy brain, and the Alzheimer’s brain shows a drop of blood flow to the important parts of the brain

Health Staple 4: Optimizing our Microbiome: Did you know that your gut is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes. This microbiome plays an important role in your health by helping to control digestion and benefitting your immune system. Taking a probiotic daily, remaining active, eating a healthy diet and avoiding foods that disrupt our microbiome[xxix] (processed fried foods, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners, are important for our gut/brain health.

ALZHEIMER’S PREVENTION THOUGHT FOR OPTIMIZING YOUR MICROBIOME:

There does appear to be a hidden relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and the microbiome in our gut and that “an imbalanced gut microbiome (dysbiosis) could lead to Alzheimer’s disease and wider neuroinflammation through the gut-brain-axis. Promoting ‘good bacteria’ relative to ‘bad bacteria’ in the gut may be important in maintaining good digestive, immune and neurological health.”[xxx] This is still a developing field but taking prebiotics and probiotics[xxxi] are the best way to promote a healthy gut/brain balance.

Health Staple 5: Intermittent Fasting: Has many health benefits[xxxii] that you might have heard of, like the fact it reduces belly fat. I started intermittent fasting around 3 years ago when I was looking to take my health to the next level, and was following some of the well-known body builders, to see what they were doing for their health and fitness. I started the 16-8 program where you fast for 16 hours, and only eat foods in an 8-hour window. I just picked 4 days a week (Sunday to Wednesday) to do this, to see what happened, and the results were obvious. I was able to quickly get down to my goal weight, where I was stuck, and not able to move the needle with exercise alone.

ALZHEIMER’S PREVENTION THOUGHT FOR INTERMITTENT FASTING :

Intermittent fasting has so many other health benefits tied to this practice, like the fact it “fights insulin resistance, lowering your risk of type-2 diabetes, reduces inflammation in the body, is beneficial for heart health, and may prevent cancer.”[xxxiii] If it is fighting insulin resistance, then it is also fighting your risk of Alzheimer’s.

REVIEW AND ACTION STEPS:

Health Staple 1: Daily Exercise

Health Staple 2: Getting Good Quality Sleep

Health Staple 3: Eating a Healthy Diet

Health Staple 4: Optimizing our Microbiome

Health Staple 5: Intermittent Fasting

Wherever you are with your current health, there is always a way to take your results to the next level. You also don’t need to get bogged down with implementing these ideas in a rush and stressing yourself out in the process.

To get started, pick one area that you want to improve, and work on that one area for the next 90 days.

1. WHERE TO BEGIN WITH DAILY EXERCISE:

If you want to improve your daily exercise, but have no idea where to begin, I would start with walking.

Beginners: I remember after a surgery I had that I could barely walk to the bottom of my driveway and remember thinking how frustrating that was. Listen to your body and start with short distances.  I would wake up early, at 4am (since I didn’t want the whole world watching me struggle to walk short distances) and I could walk from the bottom of my driveway to the end of the street. I did that every day for a week and then added a longer distance that lasted 15 minutes. After a few weeks, I was walking longer distances and longer amounts of time, showing me that progress is possible, with regular, consistent activity.

Moderate to Advanced: If you have plateaued with your current exercise routine, have you tried working with a trainer? Many are available for zoom/video calls during this time if your gym is still closed, or if you don’t have one. The key is to do something that you have not done before, to get new and different results.

2. WHERE TO BEGIN WITH GETTING A GOOD QUALITY SLEEP

  1. Have you watched our interview with sleep expert Dr. Shane Creado, on episode #72[xxxiv] and with Dr. Sarah McKay on episode #85?[xxxv]
  2. If you are waking up and feel tired, or not rested, have you considered getting a sleep study to test the quality and quantity of your sleep?
  3. Take inventory of your sleep. Are you getting at least 7-8.5 hours/each night?
  4. Have you ever used an app to measure your sleep?

3. WHERE TO BEGIN WITH EATING A HEALTHY DIET

  1. Do you avoid processed foods?
  2. Have you ever thought about cutting out sugar?
  3. Do you choose healthy carbs and fats?
  4. Do you choose whole foods vs processed foods?

4. WHERE TO BEGIN WITH OPTIMIZING YOUR MICROBIOME

  1. Do you take a probiotic?
  2. Do you know what foods help/hurt or damage your microbiome?

5. WHERE TO BEGIN WITH INTERMITTENT FASTING

  1. If fasting for 16 hours with an 8 hour eating window seems too much, try 12 hours fasting and 12 hours eating to begin. Try it for a few days a week, and just see if you feel better fasting than when you eat like you normally would. If you feel better, you can always experiment with different fasting methods, and see where you feel best.

 

I hope you have found this episode helpful, and I that you did learn something new. Please do send me a message on social media and let me know what you think.  I really do believe that if we want to improve our social, emotional and cognitive abilities, it all starts with an understanding of our brain, and these TOP 5 strategies seem to move the needle the most, especially when it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s and other diseases that I know we all want to avoid.

See you next week.

 

RESOURCES:

How Dallas Stars Executive. Tom Holy, used COVID-19 to Lose 100 pounds.https://www.star-telegram.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/mac-engel/article245434890.html

 

REFERENCES:

[i] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast Episode #84 “How a SPECT Image Brain Scan Can Change Your Life” PART 3 with Andrea Samadi https://www.achieveit360.com/how-a-spect-scan-can-change-your-life-part-3-with-andrea-samadi/

 

[ii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast Episode #82 “How a SPECT Image Brain Scan Can Change Your Brain and Life” PART 1 with Doug Sutton https://www.achieveit360.com/how-a-brain-scan-changed-my-brain-and-life-with-doug-sutton/

 

[iii] Dr. Amen’s Brain M.D. https://brainmd.com/supplements

 

[iv] Luc Depron, former actor, turned lifestyle and fitness expert and host of The Live Great Lifestyle Podcast https://lukedepron.com/

 

[v] WaveNeuro.com Team Understanding and Improving Your Cognitive Health https://www.waveneuro.com/

 

[vi] Luc Depron, host of Live Great Lifestyle on Understanding Your Brain Function and Performance https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/neuroscience-brain-health-optimize-your-brain-function/id1375402072

 

[vii] Dr. David Perlmutter’s “Alzheimer’s: The Science of Prevention” https://scienceofprevention.com/

 

[viii] 10 Early Alzheimer’s Symptoms That You Should Know https://www.amenclinics.com/blog/10-early-alzheimers-symptoms-that-you-should-know/

 

 

[ix] Max Lugavere, Health and Science Journalist and NYT Bestselling Author, Genius Foods. https://www.maxlugavere.com/

 

[x] Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills by Heidi Goodman, April 2014  https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

 

[xi] Alzheimer’s Disease: Can Exercise Prevent Memory Loss April 2019  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/alzheimers-disease/faq-20057881

 

[xii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast Episode #72 with Shane Creado on “Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes” https://www.achieveit360.com/self-regulation-and-sleep-with-a-deep-dive-into-dr-shane-creados-peak-sleep-performance-for-athletes/

 

[xiii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast Episode #85 with Neuroscientist Dr. Sarah McKay on “High Performing Brain Health Strategies That We Should All Know About.” https://www.achieveit360.com/neuroscientist-dr-sarah-mckay-on-high-performing-brain-health-strategies-that-we-should-all-know-about-and-implement/

 

[xiv] Darin Olien “The Sleep Position to Detoxify Your Brain”  https://darinolien.com/detoxify-your-brain/

 

[xv] The Darin Olien Show https://darinolien.com/podcasts/

 

[xvi] Down to Earth with Zac Efron (co-host Darin Olien)  https://www.netflix.com/title/80230601

 

[xvii] Darin Olien “The Sleep Position to Detoxify Your Brain”  https://darinolien.com/detoxify-your-brain/

 

[xviii] Dr. David Perlmutter’s “Alzheimer’s: The Science of Prevention” EPISODE 10 on Sleep  https://scienceofprevention.com/

 

[xix] Dr. Daniel Amen “7 Simple Brain-Promoting Nutritonal Tips” https://www.creativityatwork.com/2011/01/10/dr-amen-seven-simple-brain-promoting-nutrition-tips/

 

[xx] Sugar Crush: How to Reduce Inflammation, Reverse Nerve Damage and Reclaim Good Health by Dr. Richard Jacoby (April 2014)  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KPVB4OA/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

[xxi] Dave Asprey The Bulletproof Diet https://www.amazon.com/Bulletproof-Diet-Reclaim-Energy-Upgrade-ebook/dp/B00K8DSTWU/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3EQ3XAEBNVQKS&dchild=1&keywords=dave+asprey&qid=1600893573&s=digital-text&sprefix=dave+asprey+the+%2Cdigital-text%2C210&sr=1-2

 

[xxii] Bulletproof Coffee https://www.bulletproof.com/recipes/bulletproof-diet-recipes/bulletproof-coffee-recipe/

 

[xxiii] Fitness expert Jason Wittrock on “What goes into Keto Coffee”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzLwqBDMgGc

 

[xxiv] Fitness and Health Expert Thomas DeLauer https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC70SrI3VkT1MXALRtf0pcHg

 

[xxv] Dr. David Perlmutter’s “Alzheimer’s: The Science of Prevention” EPISODE 5  https://scienceofprevention.com/

[xxvi] The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer’s by Olga Khazan Jan. 26, 2018 https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/01/the-startling-link-between-sugar-and-alzheimers/551528/

 

[xxvii] Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/good-carbs-bad-carbs

 

[xxviii] Lower Glycemic Foods https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/low-glycemic-diet

 

[xxix] 11 Ways Your Life Can Disrupt the Gut Microbiome https://atlasbiomed.com/blog/11-ways-your-life-can-disrupt-the-gut-microbiome/

 

[xxx] Alzheimer’s Disease and the Microbiome by Oman Shabir  https://www.news-medical.net/health/Alzheimers-Disease-and-the-Microbiome.aspx

 

[xxxi] What is the Difference Between a Prebiotic and a Probiotic https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323490

 

[xxxii] 11 Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

 

[xxxiii] 11 Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

 

[xxxiv] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast Episode #72 with Shane Creado on “Peak Sleep Performance for Athletes” https://www.achieveit360.com/self-regulation-and-sleep-with-a-deep-dive-into-dr-shane-creados-peak-sleep-performance-for-athletes/

 

[xxxv] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast Episode #85 with Neuroscientist Dr. Sarah McKay on “High Performing Brain Health Strategies That We Should All Know About.” https://www.achieveit360.com/neuroscientist-dr-sarah-mckay-on-high-performing-brain-health-strategies-that-we-should-all-know-about-and-implement/

 

University of Phoenix President Peter Cohen on “A Positive Vision for K-12 and Higher Ed Campuses”

University of Phoenix President Peter Cohen on “A Positive Vision for K-12 and Higher Ed Campuses”

September 16, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #86 with Peter Cohen, who was appointed the eighth president of University of Phoenix in April, 2017[i], bringing more than 20 years of leadership in the education and learning science sectors. Watch the YouTube interview here. 

My name is Andrea Samadi,  I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field, with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, whether you are an educator, or is the corporate space, to take your results to the next level.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Peter Cohen today.

As the 8th President of the University of Phoenix, Peter has been focused on further accelerating the University-wide transformation in service of its vision to be recognized as the most trusted provider of career-relevant higher education for working adults. After 20 years of leadership in the field of education, he brings a deep understanding of the potential for technology to improve the quality of education—an understanding he has developed through a career focused on innovation in service of students and improved learning outcomes.

Prior to his work at the University of Phoenix, many of us from the Educational Publishing world, would know Peter when he was the CEO of Pearson Education’s School Group, (where I first met him) or Group President of U.S. Education at McGraw-Hill, overseeing the company's U.S. K-12 and higher education businesses where he helped the organization reimagine learning in the digital world. Peter was on the forefront of change in the education industry, driving the both company’s roll out of multiple technology tools, which is why I reached out to him, at a time when technology has never been so important in our lives.

Welcome Peter!

 

 Thank you so much for being available with your time to share your knowledge and vision for the state of education, at a time where we really need a positive angle. Just to give our listeners some background, I first met you when you came on board as the CEO of Pearson Education’s School Group, when I was working for Pearson Digital Learning, (for the K-12 School Market) in the Chandler, Arizona offices. This was back in 2008, and I can still remember your introductory speech to our group, like it was yesterday. We were all packed into a tiny room, full of sales reps, and our managers, all with the hopes of making an impact on student learning in the classroom.  I remember as you stool at the front, that your passion for education and making a difference with student learning was evident back then.

Q1: Can you give us a snapshot of your background, and why you have always been so passionate about education, specifically with the power of technology, making education accessible and engaging for everyone?

Q2: Fast forward 12 years, from that day we first met at Pearson, I don’t think any of us in that room would have predicted the surge and importance of online learning, as we see it today. I say this with some disappointment with the group that you spoke to back then, Pearson’s Digital Division, that no longer exists.  From your point of view, what is the state of education as you see it today with the power of bringing online learning to the forefront in our K-12 schools as well as your vision for higher ed campuses?

Q3: I saw an article you shared on social media that highlighted a positive point of view of the power of connection that higher ed plays an important role with[ii]. I thoroughly enjoyed my University years, and then had the opportunity to work with Higher Ed campuses in the southwest here, with Pearson’s Longman division before I was with the Digital Team, and I know you have a birds-eye view of what’s happening in Higher Education across the country. I wonder what you are seeing with the first few weeks back to school on many campuses. Can you share what you think can help students to stay connected so they don’t feel so isolated these days?

Q4: Peter, the whole reason I launched this podcast a year ago, was to bring awareness to the fact that “Success in life, and in college and career specifically, relies on student’s cognitive, social, and emotional development.” I wanted to not only focus on the importance of these skills in our K-12 schools, but with the fact that students must continue this learning after high school, into college and then take these skills into their career. What skills do you think are important for students to learn immediately that they can take into the workplace, to guarantee future success?

Q5: I didn’t mention that I did work at University of Phoenix prior to Pearson, in the International Division, and my husband got his MBA from U of P so we are a U of P family. I remember that back then, the biggest hurdle students had to overcome with their decision to study online was whether an online degree held the same weight as an in-person degree. I saw how quickly students could transfer credits they had already earned from other institutions and put them towards their degree to save time and money. What initiatives has U of P been focused on, knowing that many students may consider traditional online learning to earn their degree?

Q6: Is there anything that is important, that you think we have missed?

Thank you so much for your time today, Peter. It’s been wonderful to see you again and connect in person. It really is a testament that none of us know who we are impacting in the room, when we are standing at the front, as a leader, paving the path. Thanks for all you do for your employees and for the future of eduction.

If anyone is considering an online degree at U o P[iii], is the best way to go to www.phoenix.edu and search for their degree of interest for traditional campuses across the US and online courses available for students around the world? I did also see you have COVID-19 response initiatives that I’ve posted in the show notes, for students and staff at U of P, in addition to your Twitter, YouTube and Facebook pages.  Thanks so much Peter.

RESOURCES:

Peter Cohen’s Response to COVID-19 YouTube Uploaded March 27,2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ItfSFgxGTY

University of Phoenix’s COVID-19 Response Initiatives https://www.phoenix.edu/news/covid19.html

University of Phoenix YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDF_b2O1L_z9YG8_PnCv0yg

University of Phoenix Twitter

https://twitter.com/uopx

University of Phoenix Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/universityofphoenix

Awarding up to $1 million in scholarships https://www.phoenix.edu/

Social and Racial Inequities Webinar:

October 1-8th University of Phoenix is co-hosting a webinar series with the National Diversity Council called “Conversations in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” https://news.phoenix.edu/ REGISTER.

REFERENCES:

[i] University of Phoenix hires new President (April 26, 2017) https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/04/26/university-phoenix-hires-new-president

[ii] Believing in our Students by Austin Sarat (Posted Sept. 3, 2020) https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2020/09/03/some-positive-reflections-students-return-campuses-opinion

[iii] www.phoenix.edu

Neuroscientist Dr. Sarah McKay on “High-Performing Brain Health Strategies That We Should All Know About and Implement”

Neuroscientist Dr. Sarah McKay on “High-Performing Brain Health Strategies That We Should All Know About and Implement”

September 12, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #85 with Dr. Sarah McKay, an Australian neuroscientist, speaker, author, media personality and founder and director of Think Brain and the Neuroscience Academy suite of training programs whose purpose is to explain the brain so you can apply neurobiology to your life and work, which is exactly what we are focused on with this podcast. You can watch the YouTube interview here. 

My name is Andrea Samadi, and if you are new here, I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring the most current neuroscience research, along with high performing experts who have risen to the top of their field with specific strategies or ideas that you can implement immediately, to take your results to the next level.

I encourage everyone who wants to learn more about the brain to go to Dr. McKay’s website www.drsarahmckay.com[i] and learn more about her books, online courses, workshops, writing, teaching and online training programs that she has created so you can easily access, understand and implement evidence-based neuroscience strategies into your everyday life and work. 

But here is where things get exciting. You’ve GOT to watch Dr. Sarah McKay’s TEDx on “Indulging Your Neurobiology[ii]” that has over 27,000 views. I’ve seen Sarah speak many times over the years, and most recently just last week, as she was a speaker in Helen Maffini’s Preschool Neuroscience Summit[iii] where I also spoke, so I watched her session to get some ideas for how I would connect her knowledge, to the topics of the podcast, to help those listening understand her knowledge and insight as she is an expert on “explaining the brain” and then applying brain strategies to your life. You’ll learn more about Dr. McKay’s TEDx, her most recent book, The Women’s Brain Book, and some important brain strategies that I have picked out that I think we all should be aware of.

Welcome Sarah, it’s wonderful to speak with you in person after following your work since I first heard you speak on John Assaraf’s Brain-a-Thon in 2017. I just had no idea until I was preparing my questions for you, that your work would tie directly into what I am working on right now.

Before we get to the questions, I’ve got to tell you that the first minute of your TEDx Talk, I almost dropped my pen as I was taking notes, as it is all about the importance of sleep, or taking naps, and our brain health. The last 3 podcast episodes I’ve done, were about the importance of getting a spect image brain scan, if you want to optimize your results by looking at your brain, and in EPISODE #84, I share the results of my brain scan from Dr. Amen’s Clinics that revealed my brain might be showing areas of cognitive weakness due to not enough sleep. We can hear strategies to improve our brain over and over again, but unless we actually begin to implement them, we will not have the opportunities that comes along with enhancing the brain.

Intro question: I know we’ve heard it over and over again, but coming from an expert on explaining the brain, can you explain, why is sleep so important for our neurobiology?

Q1: Sarah, I just love your work, but I also love the story behind you that you can see on your website “about[iv]” section.  I relate to it, partly because I would love to live on the beaches of Australia, but also, it was a book that changed the direction of my life. How exactly did Oliver Sack’s book impact you so profoundly that you became fascinated with the human brain that launched you into the work you do today “explaining the brain” with your books, presentations and courses?

Q2: I was reading your book this weekend, The Women’s Brain Book: The Neuroscience of Health, Hormones, and Happiness[v] and it caught my eye in chapter 2 on childhood, the question “Are resilient children born or made?” especially since resiliency was a part of my spect image brain scan results (Dr Amen measures resiliency as a part of brain-health) and t’s a topic we have covered on a few different episodes, specifically with resiliency expert Horatio Sanchez on episode 74[vi] who talks about the risks facts that predict resiliency. I know that we all want to raise resilient children who can bounce back after challenge and adversity, and we want it for ourselves as well. So what is the secret to raising adaptable, resilient children, who don’t get easily stressed who you say “are like dandelions: (where) they’ll grow and thrive anywhere.”  (Page 56 of The Women’s Brain Book).

Q3: Since depression and anxiety are at an all-time high these days, with a rise in cases since the coronavirus pandemic, I wonder if you can share what you know about this topic. Can depression be seen in the brain? What does it look like, and how does the depressed brain work? How is it different from an otherwise healthy brain?

 

Q4: The whole reason why my husband and I went to Dr. Amen’s Clinics and got our brains scanned was to optimize our health by looking at our brain. What do you think are some of the most important things we should ALL be doing to optimize our brain health? What are some practices that you are focused on to keep your brain healthy? I know you are going to talk about the staple strategies like eat healthy, exercise, and getting more sleep, but I wonder specifically as an expert on “explaining the brain” what are you doing?

Q5: Is there anything I have missed that you think is important?

Thank you so much Sarah, for your time today. If someone wants to learn more about you, they can go to www.dr.sarahmkay.com/toolkit (to apply Ns to your life)  and learn  how they can access your TEDx, books, and online courses.

 

RESOURCES:

The Orchid and the Dandelion | Thomas Boyce | TEDxPaloAlto YouTube uploaded May 24, 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_vcWB43W7Y

ENIGMA: Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics Through Meta Analysis http://enigma.ini.usc.edu/

FREE TOOL KIT www.drsarahmckay.com/toolkit  to gain access to the FREE applied brain science tool kit where you can discover how to use neuroscience wisely.

REFERENCES:

[i] https://drsarahmckay.com/

[ii] Dr. Sarah McKay “Indulging Your Neurobiology” YouTube uploaded May 29, 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiXZVDKRe00

[iii] Helen Maffini’s Preschool Neuroscience Summit https://www.preschoolneurosciencesummit.com/summit202027901274?affiliate_id=1059757

[iv] https://drsarahmckay.com/about/

[v] The Women’s Brain Book by Dr. Sarah McKay (March 2018) https://www.amazon.com/Womens-Brain-Book-neuroscience-happiness-ebook/dp/B078LXBJSX/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

[vi] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast episode #74 with Horatio Sanchez https://www.achieveit360.com/leading-brain-science-and-resiliency-expert-horatio-sanchez-on-how-to-apply-brain-science-to-improve-instruction-and-school-climate/

 

BRAIN SCAN RESULTS “How a Spect Scan Can Change Your Life” with Andrea Samadi PART 3

BRAIN SCAN RESULTS “How a Spect Scan Can Change Your Life” with Andrea Samadi PART 3

September 4, 2020

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, episode #84. This is PART 3 of our past 2 episodes on “How Looking at Your Brain Can Change Your Life” with a deeper dive into What We Learned from Getting a SPECT Image Brain Scan at Dr. Amen’s Clinic in Costa Mesa, CA. The results are in (or at least mine are). My husband’s results won’t be in until next week. The reason I’m sharing my findings is so that you can see how important it is to look at your brain. It’s not important to know my results specifically, but  how someone can be doing all the right things, and still have the ability to take their results to the next level with what they learn from looking at their brain. I hope that you can take away some new insights that open your eyes to why brain-health is so important, and consider looking at your brain, if you can.

Read this episode here for larger images:https://www.achieveit360.com/how-a-spect-scan-can-change-your-life-part-3-with-andrea-samadi/

Just a quick update for those who are new here, my name is Andrea Samadi,  I’m a former educator who created this podcast to bring awareness, ideas and strategies to our most pressing issues facing educators in their workplace, or parents working from home or in the corporate space, to keep us all working at our highest levels of productivity. The goal is to bring the most current brain research and practical neuroscience, connected to our social and emotional skills, to take our results to the next level. We can do this when we do everything with our brain in mind, since our brain controls pretty much everything that we do.

This episode, we are looking at How a Brain Scan can change your life. I mentioned the results of my brain scan are here, but first, just to review, PART 1 of this Brain Scan Series, we spoke with my friend Doug Sutton[i], who had a SPECT image brain scan a few years ago when he was noticing low energy and brain fog. He went to Dr. Amen’s Clinics, one of the most respected psychiatrists in the country, who began looking at the brain, taking his practice to a whole new level. Dr. Amen believes that “when your brain works right, you work right” and his work is focused on helping people improve their lives by improving their brains. The decision to get a brain scan completely changed Doug’s life and gave him an entirely new perspective of this organ that controls pretty much everything that he does. His scan showed him that he had been exposed to toxic mold that might have been contributing to some of the health issues he was having, and he learned about things that could have harmed his brain (competitive kickboxing that he did in his early 20s) that gave him a new perspective of this organ he had not thought twice about in the past. He kept up with his treatment plan and has never been happier, and sharper, mentioning the experience to be life changing.

PART 2, was about my husband and I’s visit to Amen Clinics[ii] in CA. We made the decision to get a brain scan after interviewing Dr. Shane Creado from EPISODE #72[iii] on sleep strategies. It was Dr. Creado who suggested “why don’t you just go and get your brain scanned” when I asked him specific questions to help optimize my brain after our interview. In PART 2, I did review what a SPECT image brain scan is, what it can detect, and the main thing that we are looking for, is to see what type of brain we have based on the amount of blood flow going to the Prefrontal Cortex that controls our Executive Functions, as well as anything that he could see that would be important for us to know now, (Dementia and Alzheimer’s can be seen years before symptoms show up) so we could work on optimizing our brain for improved results.

The scan could tell us that we have the perfect amount of blood flow to our brain (which I don’t think is the case or we probably wouldn’t have gone), too little—that Dr. Amen calls hypofrontality) since “hypo” is a prefix that means “less” like hypothermia means being too cold, and frontality meaning the frontal lobes of our brain (the prefrontal cortex where all of our thinking and planning takes place) or too much blood flow, that he would say is hyperfrontality. I made a prediction that I think my husband has a lower blood flow, or a sleepier brain, and that I have more blood flow activity to the PFC, or what he calls a busy brain. I made this guess by following Dr. Amen’s courses, Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast and from reading his most recent books.  I’m curious to see how accurate my prediction is.

If you remember from the last episode, I mentioned actress Laura Clery getting a SPECT scan, and she had cameras follow her from start to finish. Her results are also in[iv], and you can watch her meeting with Dr. Amen to see what she learned.  There were some incredible Aha! Moments for me watching Laura’s results prior to hearing mine, starting with the fact that the X test we had to take was designed to identify whether someone has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or not. If you watched Laura’s test, she swore a lot and found it very difficult. My husband said the exact same thing—that the test drove him crazy.  Another interesting fact—this test that drove my husband and Laura crazy, is sold by Pearson Assessments[v], the sister company where my husband and I both worked, 15 years ago. Back then we didn’t know anything about the importance of looking at our brain, and it never crossed our minds to take an assessment ourselves to test our own cognitive abilities.

Dr. Amen also went over with Laura a second test that was designed to measure attention span, and he does think from her results that she has ADD and Laura agrees that it makes sense to her, so they created a treatment plan that can take her results to a whole new level once her brain is working at it’s best.  

Here are my results:

BRAIN HEALTH SCORES: Thinking (3.3/10), Emotion (7.3/10) Feeling (6.7/10) and Self-Regulation (9.3/10)

Brain_Health_Score_copybgo96.png

 

If I didn’t score so high on the emotional part of my brain, (emotion, feeling and self-regulation) I probably would have cried when I saw the results. I’m fully aware of the fact that a brain with holes shows an increase of at least 45% drop in blood flow and I saw a bunch of holes at first glance.  But my overall score showed I can control my emotions, so I didn’t, especially not in front of Dr. Creado.  He said my resilience levels were higher than many of the elite athletes that he’s tested, explaining to me that backbone of persistence I know I have of never giving up and pushing forward when things are difficult.  I can handle pretty stressful situations and can bounce back. We did cover resilience with brain-science and resiliency expert Horatio Sanchez on episode 74[vi] where he dove really deep into what exactly resilience is, how we can develop it in ourselves and our children and why it’s such an important life skill. This was a powerful episode to revisit because resiliency is one of those life skills we want for ourselves and our children. 

What Needs Help:

The difficult part to see was my thinking brain, where all my executive functions occur. These scores were low, specifically recall memory (we were asked to recall a list of words, and after remembering 5 or 6 words, I just gave up). I think I did this because I know that the brain can only hold a certain amount of information. Dr. Creado reminded me that my belief is important here and I agree. Where does this skill show up in my life? There have been times my husband has asked me to pick him up somewhere, and instead of just telling me the address, he’s given me a list of directions and I know I’ve lost what he’s saying after the 7th turn and stop listening, saying “just send me the address.” So we have all learned life hacks to compensate for areas of cognitive weakness, but now that I am aware of it, I can strengthen this skill. I am reminded again, how would I have known, if I didn’t look.

Processing speed (the amount of times I could hit a key on the keyboard) was also low. I’m still learning about where this skill shows up in my life but will take Dr. Creado’s suggestions seriously. Motor Coordination, controlled attention, flexibility, inhibition, and working memory were all at the expected range.

He could see a lot about my personality and how I work by looking at these scores. Doug Sutton mentioned in his interview #82 that he thinks getting a SPECT image brain scan should be a mandatory part of the hiring process in the corporate world since it reveals so much about a person. There’s no way you can hide with this snapshot of your brain. Dr. Creado saw that “I like things done my way, and that I don’t like a sudden change of plans” and having a high degree of structure in my life (which is what I need) helps me to achieve what I’m doing and is indicative of the high scores of the emotional brain. I wouldn’t operate at the level I am without these high scores.

The X Test

For the X test or the Connor’s Continuous Performance Test scores, a lower score is better and Dr. Creado let me know that my scores showed that when I wanted to perform on this test, I had the ability to focus and do well. After doing many of these brain scans, he has noticed that people who have weaker executive functions in their brain can develop life hacks to help them to focus and concentrate when they need to. But the problem is, that with time, and not working on brain health, it will just be more difficult to keep up with these life hacks. Eventually, the brain will not be able to keep up with the hack which is why it’s so important to look and see what’s happening in your brain. You won’t know any of this, without looking.

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Surface Area of My Brain

Now let’s go to the surface area of the brain. Dr. Creado is looking for smoothness, symmetry and shape.

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There are a lot of areas that are functioning well, and other areas that are not. The holes show at least 45% drop in blood flow to that area, not meaning there are physical holes, but that neurons are not firing in those areas. The temporal lobes, frontal lobes, top part and bottom part all show a hole, or reduced blood flow to that area.

 

Traumatic Brain Injury, Toxic Chemicals and Sleep

I do have the pattern of a traumatic brain injury and I described that I hit my head on a pool deck in the late 1990s while competing in a triathlon.  Head injuries typically have this pattern, but other things (my brain looks similar to my friend Doug’s who had toxic mold exposure which got me thinking about the cleaning products I use to clean my house with) can also affect these areas. This area can be affected by lack of regular exercise (not an issue for me), lack of meditation (not an issue for me), or inadequate sleep or sleep apnea (aha—not sure if this is it, but we will do a sleep study and see if I am getting enough oxygen to the brain at night). Dr. Creado thinks I am doing a lot of things right, but he doesn’t like how my brain looks, so we will be doing a bit more investigation around what is happening to this part of the brain.

 

He also suggests sleeping longer than 6.5 hours, that I might need 7.5 hours (to get 5 sleep cycles), so I will take his advice and work on a change in schedule to see if I notice any improvements. With someone doing a lot of things right, he didn’t expect to see this pattern in my PFC.  The good news is that he didn’t see the pattern of Alzheimer’s or dementia that can show up years before symptoms occur.

Dr. Creado showed me that this is the typical pattern of a traumatic brain injury.

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The Emotional Brain

My emotional brain showed to be really underactive. He wonders if it’s from the TBI, or from chronic neck pain I’ve always had, or sleep apnea (that we will check). He wants me to do balance exercises to stimulate activity in the cerebellum. I do hike and jump often from rock to rock without any difficulty, so have not noticed any issue with balance or coordination. He sees a lack of dopamine to the frontal lobes, and would prescribe medicine for this, but I prefer going the natural route, which makes sense why I know I need daily intensive exercise before I can sit at my desk and work.  It’s like I know the neurotransmitter that my body needs (dopamine) and I’ve learned to find ways to create it naturally.

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The deep limbic system is the brightest part of my emotional brain, which explains why I can easily control my mood. He sees this area overactive in people who hold themselves to high standards and can see the work I am doing that I need this area to work this way, or be a bit of a perfectionist, so this area is working as it should. He just cautions me to watch that if this area is too overactive, that I could go down the path of self-doubt, shame and guilt. There are great supplements that I had started taking about a year ago that can help balance this area of the brain (5HTP that boosts serotonin) can help with this, so I will see if he recommends me taking more than I was taking before.

Brain Scan Conclusion:

Dr.Creado thought that this evaluation was going to be smooth sailing for him when he saw the work I am doing, and the fact that I am doing a lot of things right, but he thinks that my brain still needs some work. I will get to work now on what he suggests I do to optimize my brain health to improve blood flow to the executive functions of my brain. After thinking about some of Dr. Creado’s questions and comments (that my brain looks similar to someone with a sleep deprived brain) I’ll take his advice seriously and work on an extra hour of sleep. I also thought about how much my brain looks like my friend Doug’s, (with toxic mold/chemical exposure)  and I do spend a lot of time cleaning my house, so I will re-think how I am cleaning and the products I am using.

If you want to learn more about your own brain type, or want to optimize your brain like we did, just look up the number and call Amen Clinics. If a SPECT scan is not for you, you can take Dr. Amen’s Thrive by 25 Course[vii] that dives deeper into different parts of the brain where you can see if you recognize yourself and your own behaviors, which is what I did before we actually looked at our brain. I was accurate with the fact that I have a busy brain, and my we will find out my husband’s results next week. You can also read Dr. Amen’s most recent book The End of Mental Illness[viii] where he takes a deeper dive into different brain types, along with their SPECT scans, with strategies he recommends for each type.

Why is Optimizing the Prefrontal Cortex So Important?

I learned that there are strategies that create more brain reserve, or energy, and the more brain reserve we have, the more resilient we are and the better our brain can handle the aging process to keep “mental health” disorders at bay. There are many different factors for how one person can have more brain reserve than another, but it stems from family history, or what types of injuries or trauma you’ve experienced in your past. After looking at my results, you can see there were many different factors that contributed to what Dr. Creado saw, and we still have some work to do on pinpointing ways to further optimize my prefrontal cortex or thinking brain.

The decisions we make and the habits we engage in on a daily basis are either boosting or stealing our brain’s reserve and are either accelerating the aging process or rejuvenating our brain. When we can grasp this concept, we realize that we have a lot of influence on the health and age of our brain, as well as on our own mental and physical health.

Especially during this time where we don’t yet know exactly how the coronavirus can impact the brain, and our future, I think it is important to learn more about our brain, protect it better, and take our seriousness towards our health to a new level.

Improving the Prefrontal Cortex or Executive Functions of the Brain:

Keep in mind that we want to protect the most important part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex, since it is that part of the brain that controls our focus, forethought, judgement, impulse control, organization, planning, and empathy.  It’s this part of our brain that we want to strengthen to improve our future and the part of my brain that I know I need to work on.

Dr. Amen was the principal investigator on the first and largest brain imaging study on active and retired NFL players who showed high levels of damage but who also had a high chance of recovery using the strategies he suggests after a brain scan. He did notice that many football players had a similar pattern on their brain after years of damage. Their brains were all flattened on the top, right where their executive functions were housed due to the consistent and repetitive motion of hitting the athletes head in a forward motion. We did cover tips to strengthen your brain and cognition in EPISODE #23 on “Understanding the Difference Between our Mind and Our Brain”[ix] but here’s a review.

Let’s say you are ready to make some changes with your brain health. When you are curious and interested, you will be ready to put in the effort needed to work hard and concentrate on new information. You must also be relaxed in order to consolidate this new information that you will be learning. In his book Words Can Change Your Brain[x]  Mark Robert Waldman outlines his brain-scan research suggesting that “the strategies incorporated in mindfulness could strengthen the neural circuits associated with empathy, compassion and moral decision making.” This demonstrates just how powerful it can be to stop and think and incorporate a daily meditation practice. Exercise and meditation did help my emotional response scores. Take some time to stop and think about these tips of how to improve your brain and life.

We all want to have a better brain and life and getting a SPECT scan was a first step towards this. After the results, I was able to look at the what Dr. Amen calls the 4 Circles of Brain Health[xi] where he reminds us that 51% of the population will struggle with a mental health challenge at some point in their life. He suggests you think about these four areas when looking at making changes to improve our life.

  1. Biological: How your brain and body works. Are you eating right, exercising and taking the right supplements? What genetic vulnerabilities do you have? Do you know what they are?
  2. Spiritual: Why are you here? Do you know your purpose and vision beyond yourself, how can you can contribute to the community or world?
  3. Psychological: How Your Mind Works. What makes you who you are (self-talk, body image, sense of self-worth, hope, and power over your own life).
  4. Social: Who Else is in Your Life? What is the quality of your life, relationships, and how do you give back to the world with your talents/skills?

This experience really did open my eyes to what Dr. Amen says all the time.  “We don’t know know, unless we look” and I’m glad I looked at my brain. I wasn’t expecting to see it looking like it did, but it did answer some questions for me. I know now why meditation and exercise are so important, because my brain works best with this boost in dopamine. I can either create it myself, and also find other natural, healthy ways to keep my dopamine levels higher, including working on sleep, taking the right balance of supplements, and keeping up with the activities that have been working for me in the past. I will keep you posted as how the work begins when I receive some strategies to improve and optimize my brain. I know they will involve some sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, (many of NHL and NFL players have been treated successfully for head injuries at Amen Clinics with this type of therapy), supplements, a sleep study, and interactive metronome activities to increase blood flow to my cerebellum.

The older we get, the more serious we need to be about the health of our brain. This experience showed me the reality of looking at this organ that controls everything that I do, and in order to optimize it, I need to know exactly what is happening with it.

 

I hope you found this 3-part brain scan series helpful, and that it has lit a fire for you to take your brain health to the next level. I know it lit a fire under me to make some changes, and scared me enough to be grateful that we did take the time to look at our brains, so that we can focus on brain optimization and health with true understanding of what’s really happening at the brain level. How would you ever know, unless you look.

See you next week!

REFERENCES:

[i] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #82 with Doug Sutton on “How a Brain Scan Changed my Life.” PART 1 https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/how-a-brain-scan-changed-my-brain-and-life-with-doug-sutton/

[ii] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPSIODE #83 with Andrea Samadi on “What is a SPECT Brain Scan and How Can it Change Your Life?” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/how-exactly-can-a-spect-imaging-brain-scan-change-your-life-with-andrea-samadi-part-2/

[iii] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #72 with Dr. Shane Creado on “Sleep Strategies that Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage.” https://www.achieveit360.com/dr-shane-creado-on-sleep-strategies-that-will-guarantee-a-competitive-advantage/

[iv] Actress Laura Clery SPECT Scan Results with Dr. Amen https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3472842882747938 (start video at 4 minutes where she arrives at Dr. Amen’s Clinic).

[v] Conners Continuous Performance Test https://www.pearsonclinical.co.uk/Psychology/ChildMentalHealth/ChildADDADHDBehaviour/ConnersContinuousPerformanceTestIIVersion5forWindows(CPTIIV5)/ConnersContinuousPerformanceTestIIVersion5forWindows(CPTIIV5).aspx

[vi] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast EPISODE #74 with brain-science and resiliency expert Horatio Sanchez https://www.achieveit360.com/leading-brain-science-and-resiliency-expert-horatio-sanchez-on-how-to-apply-brain-science-to-improve-instruction-and-school-climate/

[vii] Thrive by 25 Online Course https://brainmd.com/brain-thrive-by-25

[viii] Dr. Daniel Amen, The End of Mental Illness (March 2020) https://www.amazon.com/End-Mental-Illness-Neuroscience-Transforming-ebook/dp/B07T6C3CWH/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

[ix] Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast Episode #23 “Understanding the Difference Between Your Mind and Brain” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/understanding-your-brain-and-mind-for-increased-results/

[x] Andrew Newburg M .D and Mark Robert Waldman, “Words Can Change Your Brain,” (The Penguin Group, New York, New York) Page 12

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0074VTHMA/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

[xi] Dr. Daniel Amen, The End of Mental Illness (March 2020) https://www.amazon.com/End-Mental-Illness-Neuroscience-Transforming-ebook/dp/B07T6C3CWH/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

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