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10 Things You Might Not Know About Your Brain

Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Fri, Aug 15th 2014

Earlier this year, Larry King invited three brain experts onto his show: Dr. Gary Small, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Alvaro Fernandez. They helped clear up several misconceptions about the brain and shared information not commonly known about this all-important organ.

tango dance steps diagramHere are 10 things you might not know about your brain that these experts shared on the show:

1. As your weight increases, the size and function of your brain decreases. This is due to the way extra weight taxes multiple systems in the body.

2. While Alzheimer's remains one of our society's most significant health problems, it is probably over diagnosed. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, but there are dozens of other types of dementia that have different causes and potential treatments. Sadly, many people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease may have another type of dementia that could benefit from a different treatment.

3. Surfing the Internet increases brain activity. You might think that it numbs our brains, but research shows that searching for information on the Internet actually activates areas of the brain not activated by reading a book.

4. Lifestyle changes can improve your memory and other brain functions. The experts stress that "you are not stuck with the brain you have." In fact, nutrition, supplements, exercise, and mental stimulation can all benefit your brain.

5. Overreliance on email and other online communications can decrease mental performance. This might seem contrary to research findings on searching the Internet, but the key here is that people are using technology more and more to communicate with others at the expense of having real, face-to-face communications. Social interaction and spending time with people in person have been shown to enhance brain function, so relying too much on technology to communicate might ultimately isolate us and impact our brains.

6. Exercise can actually improve the structure and function of the brain. Simply adding 20-30 minutes of brisk exercise to your daily routine can help your brain create new brain cells and foster new connections between brain cells.

7. Dancing is an ideal form of exercise for improving brain health. Why? Because learning new dance steps involves parts of the brain not normally used during other forms of physical exercise.

8. Doing crossword puzzles isn't enough to keep your mind active. Keep challenging your brain in new ways - learn new games, read a book about an unfamiliar subject, or take up a new hobby.

9. Meditation activates brain function. This surprised the experts because they expected that meditation would slow it down.

10. Brain imaging will most likely become a standard part of psychiatry. We are learning so much about how different parts of the brain are associated with specific problems that it would be almost unethical to evaluate someone for psychiatric problems without taking a look at what's going on inside the brain.


Larry King Now (May 7, 2014). Brain fitness.


Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.

Itís a true blessing to have you visit my blog on mental health and wellness. I also write blogs on faith and caregiving in addition to teaching part-time for Columbia College of Missouri. For more information about my background and writing, visit my webpage at

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Therapy changes your brain - Darlene Lancer, LMFT - Aug 15th 2014

Sutdies have also shown that psychotherapy actually changes the brain. We really do change from the inside out.


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