The Exercise Neuroscientist: NEW RESEARCH, The Shocking Link Between Exercise And Dementia!

The Exercise Neuroscientist: NEW RESEARCH, The Shocking Link Between Exercise And Dementia!

Intro (00:00:00)

  • Wendy Suzuki is a neuroscientist and professor at New York University who studies the brain and how to improve memory, learning, and cognitive abilities.
  • Exercise is important for brain health, and the more you exercise, the more changes you will see in your brain.
  • The best type of exercise is what you enjoy and will stick to.

The Importance of Healthy Brain (00:02:18)

  • A big, fat, fluffy brain is a healthy brain.
  • Having a healthy brain is important for overall happiness and well-being.
  • The human brain is the most complex structure known to humankind and should be appreciated for all that it does.

Why People Need To Look After Their Brains (00:02:58)

  • Many people do not appreciate the importance of their brains and focus more on other body parts, such as muscles.
  • Wendy Suzuki's goal is to shift the focus to brain health and what people can do to improve it.

How To Keep Your Brain Healthy (00:04:23)

  • Meditation and exercise are beneficial for the brain, particularly the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
  • The hippocampus is crucial for forming and retaining long-term memories, while the prefrontal cortex is involved in shifting and focusing attention, decision-making, and personality.
  • The hippocampus is located deep within the temporal lobe and is essential for forming and retaining new long-term memories.
  • Each person has two hippocampi, one in each hemisphere of the brain.

Learning This About The Brain Changed My Life (00:07:09)

  • The author had an epiphany about the brain while on a river rafting trip in Peru.
  • After the trip, the author started going to the gym regularly and noticed an improvement in their mood and cognitive function.
  • The author realized that exercise was the only thing that had changed in their life and became interested in the effects of exercise on the brain.

My Father's Dementia Journey (00:10:37)

  • The author's father started showing signs of dementia, including memory loss and disorientation.
  • The author realized that the cognitive decline in their father was the opposite of the improvements they had experienced with exercise.
  • This revelation prompted the author to switch their research focus from memory function to understanding the effects of physical activity on the brain.

You Can Grow New Brain Cells (00:12:37)

  • Brains can change shape based on what a person does and consumes.
  • Marian Diamond discovered brain plasticity in the late 1960s.
  • Brain plasticity was discovered by comparing the brains of rats raised in enriched environments (Disney World of rat cages) to rats raised in impoverished environments (shoe boxes).
  • The brains of rats raised in enriched environments had thicker outer coverings (cortex) with more synaptic connections in certain brain areas.
  • Physical activity, such as running, can also induce similar changes in the brain.
  • Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by 50%.
  • Exercise increases the production of neurotrophic factors, such as BDNF, which promote the growth and survival of neurons.
  • Exercise improves cardiovascular health, which is linked to a reduced risk of dementia.
  • Exercise reduces inflammation, which is a risk factor for dementia.
  • Exercise improves cognitive function and memory.

How Learning Changes The Structure Of Your Brain (00:16:01)

  • Learning can change the structure and function of the brain.
  • London taxi drivers who successfully pass "the Knowledge" test have a significantly bigger posterior hippocampus compared to those who fail.
  • The posterior hippocampus is involved in spatial learning.
  • Intense learning in a particular part of the brain can change its structure and function.

You Can Improve Your Brain Health At Any Point - Here's How (00:18:43)

  • Physical activity can reduce the probability of developing dementia in the next six years by 30% for people aged 65 and older.
  • Regular physical activity over a lifetime can delay the onset of dementia.
  • Exercise releases neurochemicals like serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, and endorphins, which improve mood.
  • Exercise also releases growth factors that help brand new cells grow in the hippocampus, which is one of the two brain areas where new cells can grow.
  • A larger hippocampus can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
  • Physical activity can also help the prefrontal cortex grow new synapses, which are connections between cells.
  • Age and neurodegenerative diseases can damage cells and synapses, but exercise can help mitigate these effects.

What's Causing Dementia & Alzheimer's (00:22:28)

  • The exact cause of dementia and Alzheimer's is still unknown.
  • There are links between lifestyle choices and the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Regular physical activity, such as walking, can significantly reduce the probability of developing Alzheimer's.

How Does Memory Work? (00:24:24)

  • Working memory, a type of short-term memory, is crucial for tasks like remembering phone numbers.
  • Long-term memory formation, which stores facts and events, relies on the hippocampus.

How To Improve Your Bad Memory (00:24:53)

  • Different individuals have varying strengths and weaknesses in their memory abilities.
  • Memory is influenced by both nature (genetics) and nurture (experiences and environment).
  • While memory can be improved through training and practice, there may be inherent limitations to how much it can be enhanced.

The Different Types Of Memory (00:26:35)

  • The hippocampus is crucial for our memory of facts and events (declarative memory).
  • Motor memory, which is used to learn physical skills, is dependent on the striatum.
  • Working memory, or scratch pad memory, is dependent on the prefrontal cortex.

How To Remember Things Better (00:27:35)

  • Repetition: Remembering things through repetition.
  • Association: The hippocampus associates one thing with another, aiding in memory formation.
  • Emotion: Emotional events or information are more memorable.
  • Novelty: New and unusual things are more likely to be remembered.

The Memory Palace Technique (00:28:49)

  • The hippocampus aids in memory retention by associating things together.
  • Novelty and emotional resonance, such as the happiest and saddest moments, make things more memorable. The amygdala, located in front of the hippocampus, plays a role in emotional resonance.
  • Betty, a preserved human brain, is used as a teaching tool to enhance novelty and stimulate thinking about the brain.
  • Men and women's brains have subtle differences that are not easily discernible from the outside.
  • The human brain's folded cortex increases its surface area, allowing for higher computational capacity compared to animals with flat brains.
  • The human brain is responsible for perception, experiences, thoughts, feelings, and memories.
  • The cerebellum, located at the back of the brain, is crucial for fine motor movement and coordination.
  • The brain contains a vast amount of information about a person's life, including their experiences, memories, and emotions.
  • Seeing a human brain for the first time can inspire individuals to pursue careers in neuroscience and further understand the brain's complexities.

The Best Exercise For Your Brain (00:37:19)

  • Optimal exercise for the brain involves aerobic activity that increases heart rate.
  • Aerobic activities such as power walking and soccer are effective.
  • Exercise releases growth factors that stimulate the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus.
  • Low-fit individuals who start exercising 2-3 times a week for 45 minutes of aerobic activity can experience improvements in mood, memory, and attention.
  • For individuals who already exercise regularly, the more they exercise, the greater the brain changes they experience.
  • Exercise can positively impact mindset, making it easier to prioritize physical activity as a means of self-care and brain health.
  • Regular exercise provides a mood boost due to the release of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline.

How To Be Better At Speaking And Memory (00:42:04)

  • Exercise can improve mood, focus, attention, and reaction time.
  • These improvements can benefit speaking and memory.

The Effects Of Coffee On Our Brains (00:43:37)

  • Caffeine can be a stimulant, but overstimulation can impair speaking ability.
  • Self-experimentation can help determine the optimal caffeine level for cognitive performance.
  • Hot-cold contrast showers can stimulate adrenaline and improve alertness.

What Lack Of Sleep Is Doing To Your Neurons (00:45:09)

  • Lack of sleep can impair cognitive function and even lead to death in extreme cases.
  • Sleep is crucial for memory consolidation and the removal of waste products from the brain.
  • Insufficient sleep can lead to the accumulation of waste products and impair cognitive function.

The Best Diets For An Optimal Brain (00:46:58)

  • The Mediterranean diet is recommended for optimal brain health.
  • It consists of unprocessed, colorful, and organic foods.

The Shocking Benefits Of Human Connections (00:47:48)

  • Lack of strong relationships, loneliness, and fewer social connections can lead to brain shrinkage and increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's.
  • Social interactions, even small ones like greeting a barista, contribute to longevity and brain health.
  • Strong social connections promote happiness and reduce stress, which is beneficial for brain health.

Neuroscientist Recommends This Morning Routine For Optimal Brain Function (00:49:15)

  • Tea meditation: a 45-minute silent meditation while brewing and drinking tea.
  • 30-minute workout: a mix of cardio, strength training, yoga, or mobility exercises.
  • Hot-cold contrast shower: provides an adrenaline boost and energizes the brain.

What Are The Worst Habits For Your Brain? (00:50:31)

  • Lack of sleep.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Lack of social connections.
  • Smoking.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, even in moderation, disrupts sleep quality and harms brain health.
  • Processed diet.
  • Lack of novelty and learning new things.

Does Mindfulness Help The Brain? (00:51:41)

  • Mindfulness, such as meditation, has been shown to induce brain plasticity in areas crucial for focused attention.
  • Meditation enhances the function of the prefrontal cortex, enabling better focus and concentration.
  • Long-term meditators exhibit beneficial brain changes that improve cognitive function.

What Social Media Is Doing To Your Brain (00:52:21)

  • Excessive social media use, especially among young individuals, correlates with increased depression and anxiety levels.
  • Social media can lead to reduced face-to-face interactions and diminished social connections.
  • The constant dopamine hits from social media stimulation resemble those experienced in addictive behaviors like gambling.
  • Social media addiction can negatively impact various aspects of well-being, including sleep, social connections, exercise, and overall brain health.
  • Young individuals are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of social media on brain development and mental health.

What To Do About Social Media And Phone Addiction (00:55:46)

  • Phone addiction can limit brain growth, plasticity, and joy in life.
  • Real person-to-person social interactions provide a different kind of joy that social media cannot replace.
  • A two-week phone detox can help break the addiction and improve overall well-being.
  • Many people prefer to give themselves an electric shock rather than sit alone with their thoughts, highlighting the extent of phone addiction.
  • Phone addiction affects creativity and imagination, which are dependent on the hippocampus.
  • Social media stimulation can hinder the hippocampus' ability to put together memories in new and interesting ways.

Anxiety Levels Are Increasing (00:59:21)

  • Dr. Wendy Suzuki noticed her students and friends becoming increasingly anxious before the pandemic.
  • Everyday anxiety, not clinical anxiety, is the focus of her book.
  • Factors contributing to higher anxiety levels include global warming, wars, and social media.
  • Anxiety levels increased by approximately 20% worldwide during the pandemic.
  • Social media anxiety is rising even more among girls.
  • Young women are experiencing increased anxiety and suicidality due to factors such as social comparison and high levels of information.

Where Do We Experience Anxiety In The Brain? (01:04:02)

  • Anxiety is a full-body experience strongly linked to the stress response.
  • Anxiety-provoking situations trigger the stress response, which is dependent on the sympathetic nervous system.
  • The stress response causes physical changes such as increased heart rate, respiration, and blood flow to the muscles.
  • The body's stress response is not very smart and does not differentiate between physical threats and social media posts.

How To Turn Down Our Stress Levels (01:06:22)

  • Exercise immediately decreases anxiety and depression levels, even just 10 minutes of walking.
  • Breath meditation, or deep breathing, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body down.
  • Taking three deep breaths is the most effective way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and slow down the stress response.

What Do Emotions Do To Our Brain And Body? (01:08:18)

  • Sadness can be linked with anxiety.
  • Anxiety is a warning system that focuses us on things we should pay attention to.
  • Anxiety tells us about what we hold most dear in our life.
  • People pleasing is a response to anxiety that reminds us of the value of interaction with people we care about.

Ads (01:10:21)

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  • The energy drink provides all-day energy without crashes or jitters, aiding focus and concentration.
  • Listeners can use the code "diary10" at Tesco, Waitrose, or online to receive a 10% discount on the energy drink.

Does The Brain Change When We're In Love? (01:11:22)

  • Brain scans of people in romantic love show activation in reward and social interaction areas of the brain.
  • Lack of love or social connections may lead to decreased function in the 'love' part of the brain, making it more difficult to love in the future.
  • Different types of love, such as romantic love and maternal/paternal love, activate different patterns in the brain.
  • Long-term romantic relationships transition from a romantic phase to a more maternal/paternal pattern over time.
  • Love evolves over time and there are many different kinds of love beyond the romantic, Hollywood, or Disney type of love.

What You Learn From Going Through Grief (01:14:13)

  • The author experienced profound grief after losing her father to Alzheimer's and her brother to a heart attack, leading her to explore the connection between deep love and intense emotions.
  • She transformed her book on anxiety to focus on finding wisdom and strength within difficult emotions, drawing from her personal experiences.
  • The author's perspective has evolved, embracing the limitations of scientific explanations and finding comfort in religious beliefs despite their lack of scientific proof.
  • She expresses concern about societal trends such as increased screen addiction, loneliness, and decreased social connections, emphasizing the importance of finding greater meaning and purpose in life.
  • The author highlights the significance of brain health, motivated by personal experiences, and expresses gratitude for those dedicated to improving others' lives.

What Is The Best Quality Of Humanity (01:29:26)

  • The best quality of humanity is compassion.
  • Compassion means feeling for the experience of others, both good and bad.

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