An Interview With Dr. Nadine Kabbani, PhD.

THANK YOU... all of you who came to our January workshop on Brain Health. We thought it was "braintastic" and hope you did too!

A very special thank you to Nadine Kabbani, PhD, who knocked it out of the park in her discussion about the care and feeding of our brains and how the brain actually "operates". Below you will find an interview with Nadine that touches on some of the most important questions we have about keeping our brain healthy and the steps to take to maintain a healthy brain.



On January 14th, BB&R hosted a workshop on the healthy brain featuring the wonderful Dr. Nadine Kabbani, PhD, a scientific group leader at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study and an Assistant Professor of Molecular Neuroscience at George Mason University. Her research focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor signaling on the developing brain. And yes, she is one brainy lady! Below, Dr. Kabbani answers a few questions for your reading pleasure!

What is the most interesting fact about the brain?

Each neuron can form thousands of links (synapses) with other neurons. It is estimated that 100 trillion synapses exist in the human brain. These synapses are not static but change over time with experiences. Today it is thought that these synapses hold the key to an individual's ability to remember, learn, and make decisions in the world.

What are the top three things we can do to improve brain health?

1. Exercise and stay physically fit. Both cardiovascular and muscle training exercises increases oxygen to the brain, enables endorphins, lowers cortisol, and enhances brain metabolism and health. Exercise is also anti-inflammatory and helps the body maintain overall health and vitality under stress. Individuals who exercise regularly are not only happier but do better on cognitive and memory tests.

2. Avoid excessive multi-tasking-- take a break often. A recent study shows that multitasking increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog and scrambled thinking. Multitasking appears to also enhance a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation. In today's high paced world it is important to learn to slow down and focus on a few tasks.

3. Play and engage in a life of constant learning. Play is akin to taking the executive parts of the cortex offline. It enhances synapses and adult neurogenesis (neuronal division in the brain that continues through life). Fred Gage a neuroscientist at UCSD has shown that an enriched environment is optimal for brain and body health. And the psychiatrist Stuart Brown compared Playing to oxygen. He writes says: "it's all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing." He describes Play as "state of being," "purposeless, fun and pleasurable." The focus is on the actual experience, not on accomplishing a goal.

What do you think of mind-body health and the work we do at BB&R?

In today's past paced, high stress, and ever changing technology filled world it is important for all of us to remember that our sense of wellness comes from the basic fact that overall health comes via a balance and an awareness in one's mind-body connectedness. BB&R's unique focus on this important connections between the mind, the body, and the soul promotes an essential conversation on how to increase human health, vitality, and happiness. As today's science research increasingly supports: wellness is as much physical as mental.