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Health Professional Profile: Researcher's talk will focus on brain health

steven anderson

Brain health is the focus of an upcoming presentation by Dr. Steven Anderson, director of the neuropsychological rehabilitation laboratory at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

Anderson says the talk, 6:30 p.m. March 27 at the Des Moines Central Library, has implications for everyone, whether they are a healthy, young adult, a middle-aged or older adult concerned about brain aging, someone coping with a neurologic condition, or a health care professional. The event is co-sponsored by the University of Iowa Alumni Association.

Is neuropsychology a new field, and what has been the focus of some of your research at the neuropsychological rehabilitation laboratory at the U of I?

Neuropsychology is an area of science and clinical practice focused on the brain basis of thinking abilities and emotion. It is not a new field, but is a field that has been advancing rapidly in recent years, due in part to technological advances, such as brain imaging techniques, and to growing recognition of the profound personal and societal impact of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and traumatic brain injury.

Our research and clinical practice involves many aspects of brain function in health and disease. We are particularly interested in “translational” neuroscience, which is the stage of taking findings from basic neuroscience, often from animal studies, and translating these into evidence-based practices that actually improve the quality of life for people.

Your talk will address advances that optimize current and future brain function. What progress has been made in this area?

The most important big-picture progress has been that neuroscience now provides strong evidence that our behavior can have a major impact on brain health across the lifespan. Evidence from multiple levels of analysis — from single neurons under high magnification to survey studies involving thousands of people — has converged to show that what we do in our daily lives influences our brain structure and function, and thus our cognitive abilities, emotional health and risk of developing dementia as we age.

What are some ways folks can improve their brain health and when should they begin to do so?

This is what I will be focusing on in the talk. Some of the most important things that people can do are to exercise and increase their level of physical activity, prioritize healthy sleep patterns and take an active approach to stress management. These are lifestyle issues, to be practiced every day for the rest of your life, that your brain will thank you for.

The effects of healthy behaviors are cumulative over the lifespan. What you do today has implications for your brain health and quality of life in years to come.

Story from: Des Moines Register