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ISRIB molecule—image by the Adam Frost lab at UCSF

Drug Reverses Age-Related Mental Decline Within Days, Suggesting Lost Cognitive Ability is Not Permanent

By Good News Network, December 27, 2020

 
Just a few doses of an experimental drug that reboots protein production in cells can reverse age-related declines in memory and mental flexibility in mice, according to a new study by UC San Francisco scientists.

The drug, called ISRIB, has already been shown in laboratory studies to restore memory function months after traumatic brain injury (TBI), reverse cognitive impairments in Down Syndrome, prevent noise-related hearing loss, fight certain types of prostate cancer, and even enhance cognition in healthy animals.

In the new study, published Dec. 1 in the open-access journal eLife, researchers showed rapid restoration of youthful cognitive abilities in aged mice, accompanied by a rejuvenation of brain and immune cells that could help explain improvements in brain function—and with no side effects observed.

“ISRIB’s extremely rapid effects show for the first time that a significant component of age-related cognitive losses may be caused by a kind of reversible physiological “blockage” rather than more permanent degradation,” said Susanna Rosi, PhD, Lewis and Ruth Cozen Chair II and professor in the departments of Neurological Surgery and of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science.

“The data suggest that the aged brain has not permanently lost essential cognitive capacities, as was commonly assumed, but rather that these cognitive resources are still there but have been somehow blocked, trapped by a vicious cycle of cellular stress,” added Peter Walter, PhD, a professor in the UCSF Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “Our work with ISRIB demonstrates a way to break that cycle and restore cognitive abilities that had become walled off over time.”

Rebooting cellular protein production holds key to aging

Walter has won numerous scientific awards, including the Breakthrough, Lasker and Shaw prizes, for his decades-long studies of cellular stress responses. ISRIB, discovered in 2013 in Walter’s lab, works by rebooting cells’ protein production machinery after it gets throttled by one of these stress responses—a cellular quality control mechanism called the integrated stress response (ISR; ISRIB stands for ISR InhiBitor).

The ISR normally detects problems with protein production in a cell—a potential sign of viral infection or cancer-promoting gene mutations—and responds by putting the brakes on cell’s protein-synthesis machinery. This safety mechanism is critical for weeding out misbehaving cells, but if stuck in the ‘on’ position in a tissue like the brain, it can lead to serious problems, as cells lose the ability to perform their normal activities, according to Walter and colleagues.

In particular, their recent animal studies have implicated chronic ISR activation in the persistent cognitive and behavioral deficits seen in patients after TBI, by showing that, in mice, brief ISRIB treatment can reboot the ISR and restore normal brain function almost overnight.

The cognitive deficits in TBI patients are often likened to premature aging, which led Rosi and Walter to wonder if the ISR could also underlie purely age-related cognitive decline. Aging is well known to compromise cellular protein production across the body, as life’s many insults pile up and stressors like chronic inflammation wear away at cells, potentially leading to widespread activation of the ISR.

“We’ve seen how ISRIB restores cognition in animals with traumatic brain injury, which in many ways is like a sped-up version of age-related cognitive decline,” said Rosi, who is director of neurocognitive research in the UCSF Brain and Spinal Injury Center and a member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. “It may seem like a crazy idea, but asking whether the drug could reverse symptoms of aging itself was just a logical next step.”

Signature effects of aging disappeared literally overnight

In the new study, researchers led by Rosi lab postdoc Karen Krukowski, PhD, trained aged animals to escape from a watery maze by finding a hidden platform, a task that is typically hard for older animals to learn. But animals who received small daily doses of ISRIB during the three-day training process were able to accomplish the task as well as youthful mice—and much better than animals of the same age who didn’t receive the drug.

The researchers then tested how long this cognitive rejuvenation lasted and whether it could generalize to other cognitive skills. Several weeks after the initial ISRIB treatment, they trained the same mice to find their way out of a maze whose exit changed daily—a test of mental flexibility for aged mice who, like humans, tend to get increasingly stuck in their ways. The mice who had received brief ISRIB treatment three weeks before still performed at youthful levels, while untreated mice continued to struggle.

To understand how ISRIB might be improving brain function, the researchers studied the activity and anatomy of cells in the hippocampus, a brain region with a key role in learning and memory, just one day after giving animals a single dose of ISRIB. They found that common signatures of neuronal aging disappeared literally overnight: neurons’ electrical activity became more sprightly and responsive to stimulation, and cells showed more robust connectivity with cells around them while also showing an ability to form stable connections with one another usually only seen in younger mice.

The researchers are continuing to study exactly how the ISR disrupts cognition in aging and other conditions and to understand how long ISRIB’s cognitive benefits may last. Among other puzzles raised by the new findings is the discovery that ISRIB also alters the function of the immune system’s T cells, which also are prone to age-related dysfunction. The findings suggest another path by which the drug could be improving cognition in aged animals, and could have implications for diseases from Alzheimer’s to diabetes that have been linked to heightened inflammation caused by an aging immune system.

“This was very exciting to me because we know that aging has a profound and persistent effect on T cells and that these changes can affect brain function in the hippocampus,” said Rosi. “At the moment, this is just an interesting observation, but it gives us a very exciting set of biological puzzles to solve.”

Success shows the ‘serendipity’ of basic research

Rosi and Walter were introduced by neuroscientist Regis Kelly, PhD, executive director of the University of California’s QB3 biotech innovation hub, following Walter’s 2013 study showing that the drug seemed to instantly enhance cognitive abilities in healthy mice. To Rosi, the results from that study implied some walled-off cognitive potential in the brain that the molecule was somehow unlocking, and she wondered if this extra cognitive boost might benefit patients with neurological damage from traumatic brain injury.

The labs joined forces to study the question in mice, and were astounded by what they found. ISRIB didn’t just make up for some of the cognitive deficits in mice with traumatic brain injury—it erased them. “This had never been seen before,” Rosi said. “The mantra in the field was that brain damage is permanent—irreversible. How could a single treatment with a small molecule make them disappear overnight?”

Further studies demonstrated that neurons throughout the brains of animals with traumatic brain injury are thoroughly jammed up by the ISR. Using ISRIB to release those brakes lets brain cells immediately get back to their normal business. More recently, studies in animals with very mild repetitive brain injury—akin to pro athletes who experience many mild concussions over many years—showed that ISRIB could reverse increased risk-taking behavior associated with damage to self-control circuits in the frontal cortex.

“It’s not often that you find a drug candidate that shows so much potential and promise,” Walter says, calling it “just amazing”.

No side effects

One might think that interfering with the ISR, a critical cellular safety mechanism, would be sure to have serious side effects, but so far in all their studies, the researchers have observed none. This is likely due to two factors. First, it takes just a few doses of ISRIB to reset unhealthy, chronic ISR activation back to a healthier state. Second, ISRIB has virtually no effect when applied to cells actively employing the ISR in its most powerful form—against an aggressive viral infection, for example.

ISRIB has been licensed by Calico, a South San Francisco, Calif. company exploring the biology of aging, and the idea of targeting the ISR to treat disease has been picked up by many other pharmaceutical companies, Walter says.

“It almost seems too good to be true, but with ISRIB we seem to have hit a sweet spot for manipulating the ISR with an ideal therapeutic window,” Walter said.

Get more links to background studies from original article from UCSF News.
 

CLICK HERE to read the original article
 

Thankfulness: How Gratitude Can Help Your Health

American Heart Association heart.org, November 10, 2020

 
Gratitude is more than a buzzword. It’s a habit and practice that may actually change your perception of well-being.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, all the changes it has brought to your life and everything you need to worry about to stay safe?

Or do you sometimes feel like you just can’t catch a break? You know — the truck that cut you off, the weird feedback you got from your boss, the grocery item you need but is never on the store shelf? Do you sometimes feel negative and cynical?

Sure, we all do this a little, but doing it a lot can lead to depression1, which is linked to poor heart health, more inflammation and even a weaker immune system.2 Yikes!

Some neuroscience experts think our brains focus on negative information as a way to remember pain so we can avoid it in the future. They call this the “negativity bias.”3

To balance out this natural tendency, we can practice gratitude.

“Gratitude is good medicine,” says Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis and author of The Little Book of Gratitude.

“Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life. It can lower blood pressure and improve immune function. … Grateful people engage in more exercise, have better dietary behaviors, are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol and have higher rates of medication adherence.”4

Dang, being grateful is the gift that seriously keeps on giving, right? Who couldn’t use all these benefits right now?

Here’s a simple way to get started:

Write these down before you go to bed or share them around the dinner table. In five minutes, you can practice gratitude from the heart.

1. Health: What did your body do for you today?
Did you know you take about 8 million breaths a year? Your feet can take you up a mountain; your arms can hold someone you love. Take a minute to marvel at the finely tuned machinery of your body, and thank yourself for the steps you take every day to keep it safe and healthy.
 
2. Eat: What did you feed your body to nourish yourself today?
Was it an old favorite, something you made or something new and different? If you eat three meals a day, you’ll eat about a thousand meals this year! Take a minute to savor an especially yummy meal. And check out some healthy options on the AHA’s recipe hub.
 
3. Activity: What did you do that you really enjoyed today?
Did you give it your all when exercising today, or find a quiet moment while sitting in traffic to reflect? Take a minute to think back on one particularly awesome moment.
 
4. Relationship: Whom do you look forward to connecting with?
Is it someone who sets your heart on fire, always has a smile for you, has your back or makes you laugh until you cry? Take a minute to smile as you think about this special person. Then make plans for a virtual meet-up.
 
5. Time: What are you doing right now?
Every single day you wake up with 24 brand new hours. The past is history, the future is a mystery and today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present! Take a minute to be thankful for the gift of time, including any extra time you have right now for your family or yourself.
Let’s do this, and be Healthy for Good!
 

SOURCES:
1 Journal of Cognition and Emotion,Negative processing biases predict subsequent depressive symptoms. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02699930143000554
2 National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, Chronic Illness & Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/chronic-illness-mental-health/index.shtml
3 National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Not all emotions are created equal: The negativity bias in social-emotional development https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652533/ and Agency Attribution in Infancy: Evidence for a Negativity Bias https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4011708/.
4 American Heart Association News, Gratitude is a healthy attitude.

 

CLICK HERE to read the original article
 

Free & Low-Cost Activities to Think About During Lockdown

Written by one of our own San Diego Brain Injury Survivors, November 20, 2020

 
This year has been challenging for everyone. Especially as we close out the year with no sign of social distancing and lockdowns going away, it seems to be getting more and more difficult to think of new things to do to keep us busy…AND safe. So, a San Diego brain injury survivor put this list together to help you with new and fun things that can still be done for little or no cost! Enjoy!!

1. Attend free Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) online classes through San Diego Community College District’s Continuing Education Center — sdce.edu
2. Participate in UCSD Recreation’s free online classes (exercise, lectures, etc.) — recreation.ucsd.edu
3. Participate in the YMCA’s free online exercise classes and lectures — ymcasd.org
4. Visit Brainline website — brainline.org
5. Watch “Brain on Nature” podcasts — brainonnature.com
6. Do free brain training games on Lumosity — lumosity.com
7. Watch free online UCSD-TV programs — ucsd.tv
8. Watch the San Diego Brain Injury Foundation’s recorded meetings on their YouTube Channel at youtube.com/theSDBIF
9. Check the calendar of virtual events on Live Well San Diego — livewellsd.org
10. Enroll in free online classes offered through San Diego Public Libraries — education.gale.com
11. Participate in the online classes through the Continuing Education Center at Rancho Bernardo — cecrb.com or call (858) 487-0464
12. “Museums from Home” activities — sandiegomuseumcouncil.org
13. Do mindfulness/adult coloring books (sometimes available at dollar stores)
14. Borrow materials from the library (books, DVDs, e-books, etc.) — sdcl.org and sandiego.gov
15. Call, email, write letters and send greeting cards to family, friends, former colleagues, etc.
16. Try some new healthy recipes — eatfresh.org
17. Here are a few brain injury yoga lessons that you can try out from the Love Your Brain yoga You Tube Channel — Gentle Floor practice and Gentle Chair practice

 

 

The Benefits of Smiling

By Jennifer, spindpals.com, July 16, 2020

 
How many times have you smiled today?  If you’re an average adult, you’ll smile 20 times today.  If you’re a really happy adult, you’ll smile 40-50 times today.  That sounds decent, until you compare it to the number of smiles a child expresses each day: 400!
 
Why do we smile and how does it affect our brain?  Here’s the sequence of events:

  • You feel happy
  • Your brain sends a signal to cranial nerve VII, which then triggers the face’s zygomaticus major muscle (the one responsible for lifting the corners of your mouth) and the obicularis occuli muscle (the one around your eyes)
  • You smile
  • A positive feedback loop is initiated and a signal is sent back to your brain, releasing dopamine and serotonin, and reinforcing positive emotions
  •  
    Other benefits of smiling:

  • It lowers the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline
  • It boosts the immune system by increasing gamma interferon (a protein that fights viruses), B-cells and T-cells (the white blood cells needed to create antibodies)
  • What about fake smiles?  It turns out that fake/”social” smiling enough can actually bias your brain to thinking you are genuinely happy due to the positive feedback loop.

    —>FUN FACT:  A single smile can stimulate neurotransmitters as much as 2000 bars of chocolate, but without the sugar crash and stomach ache!
     
    When you next pass someone on the street, flash your pearly whites.  You’ll make them feel good and cheer yourself up as well.

    “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

    CLICK HERE to read the original article
     

     

    My Tech Tools for TBI

     

    By Alexander Rostron, August 25, 2020

     
    After my traumatic brain injury (TBI), I suffered from a large drop in mental capacity.  I could not remain focused for even moderate lengths of time and forgot the majority of the content that I had just consumed.  

    Not only that, whenever I attempted focused work, I was so mentally and physically tired after doing something as simple as reading that I needed to take a nap.  The limited runs of mental stamina prompted me to explore different tools and systems for assistance.

    Below are three apps I find useful:

    Notability App (iOS, Mac)

    I use Notability to write notes (handwritten and typed), take photos and record audio from class and during medical appointments.  My favorite feature is the ability to capture audio while handwriting notes and highlighting key terms with the Apple Pencil.  

    While reviewing my class notes to study for a test, I realized that the audio recorded more information than I was able to put down during the lecture.  For example, a professor gives an example of the definition they had just explained.  I was only able to write out the definition, before the professor started on a different part of the lesson.  The audio recording left me more information than my writing speed could handle.

    Google Calendar

    I use Google Calendar to track the scheduled appointments I have.  My favorite part of that utility is the option of adding details to each event, such as the address, a notification to remind me an hour before, and a space for a custom description.  Here is where I list important details about what needs to be brought and prepared for the appointment.  I have used it to track things I need to bring and do before each appointment.

    Forest Pomodoro Timer (iOS, Mac)

    I use Forest to practice the Pomodoro technique for working on tasks that take intense focus, while giving scheduled breaks for a mental recovery.  It is a timer that stops if you use your phone.  This is to practice only studying for a set amount of time, with an alert after as a reminder to physically get up from where I’m studying and take a very short break.  Studies have shown that after 25 minutes of intense mental focus, human ability to retain information gets severely diminished.  This is a tool I consistently use when I am completing a task with a lot of paperwork and takes a lot of time and mental energy, such as writing essays or personal record-keeping.

    These 3 tools act as such a critical part of my life post-TBI.  The Notability app catches all of the information that I cannot record at the time of, and helps support my memories with the tools it gives to type, write, and emphasize certain information.  The Google Calendar system helps give me a clear layout of the events in the week ahead of me and contains a place for each small and important detail.  The Forest app helps me pace myself through large blocks of work with small checkpoint breaks to ensure that I don’t drain my mental battery and a chance to reflect about what info I had just absorbed.

    These are the systems that assist me with the mental stamina and memory recall struggles specific to my traumatic brain injury. If you have tools that you would like to add to this list, I would love to hear about what you have used to support your life post-TBI. If you would like to hear more about one of these tools please let me know.  If you have any comments, questions, or feedback please feel free to reach out to me at arroston@gmail.com.

    CLICK HERE to read the original article
     

     

    Alcohol and Brain Injury

    After a TBI or Stroke the brain can become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. This can cause cognitive problems that impact memory, mobility, and speech. It can also cause someone to feel fatigued and unwell. What can be expected after your recovery?

     

    By Fred at Spindpals.com, July 18, 2020

     

    Whether we’re on holiday abroad or enjoying the Christmas festivities, an alcoholic drink tends to not be too far from reach for many of us.

    But after a brain injury, the body’s tolerance to alcohol is greatly reduced, and many survivors find that they are no longer able to enjoy alcohol in the same way as they did before their injury. The reduced tolerance to alcohol means that many effects of brain injury are exacerbated after drinking, such as memory problems, mobility issues, speech and fatigue.

    Remember you should always discuss with your medical practitioner your particular condition to understand what the impact would be on yourself. Never take alcohol without their approval and guidance.

    AUTHOR: “It is clear that there is an uneasy relationship between alcohol and brain injury. Survivors are often faced with the challenge of balancing a desire to enjoy the social life they had before they sustained their injury with the acceptance that alcohol now affects them in a different way.”

    We asked brain injury survivors to tell us about how their relationship with alcohol has changed.

    For some, the enjoyment of drinking is simply outweighed by the effects caused.

    “I don’t drink anymore,” said Louise Fry. “I couldn’t drink to start with because of meds, but now? It just hits me too hard.”

    Janet Creamer agreed: “Drinking is now a no-no. Just one alcoholic drink does awful things to my brain. It feels like I’ve drunk way too much and I get that spaced out feeling.”

    Others, like Giles Philip Hudson, have found that being advised by doctors to no longer drink has actually been a blessing in disguise.

    AUTHOR: “After sustaining my brain injury and spending over four months in hospital, doctors advised me not to drink alcohol. During this time I found I no longer needed to drink alcohol to make me feel good or enjoy myself. I certainly don’t need the headaches it causes.”
     

    Enjoy a drink at home with family and friends

    Naturally, many people want to continue to be able to enjoy a drink every now and then, particularly at social gatherings. But what if going to the bar is too daunting a prospect?

    Home drinking is increasingly popular For some, staying in allows them to enjoy a drink without some of the challenges of being in a busy, crowded and noisy pub or bar.

    “Since my disability I do not feel comfortable going into a bar as I may find it hard to use the restrooms,” said one member of the community, “so my drinking is done in my home.”

    Patricia Nugent on Facebook agreed: “We tend to drink at home so it is easier and less stressful to moderate intake,” she said.

    If you are choosing to drink at home, it’s important you monitor your intake carefully.
    Here’s some useful advice for home drinkers:

      1. Keep track of how many units you’re consuming
      2. Use smaller glasses
      3. Use proper spirit measures to avoid inadvertently pouring yourself a double or triple measure
      4. Eat as you drink
      5. Invest in a good bottle stop to make that bottle of wine last longer

    Out and about

    For others, however, a good night out is still a must! If that’s the case, then planning ahead can be the key to the success of the evening.

    “I don’t go out much, once every two months,” said Michelle Richardson. “But it’s lovely to have some drinks and let my hair down and forget how challenging recovery is for a while.

    AUTHOR: “I do have to prepare for a night out by having an afternoon snooze.”

    If you do want to enjoy a night out on the town with friends, here are some more top tips:

      ▪ Don’t drink on an empty stomach and check your medication allows you to drink
      ▪ Make sure your friends know about your brain injury, lowered alcohol tolerance levels, and any other issues such as an intolerance to noise
      ▪ Drink water between alcoholic drinks and avoid getting into rounds

    Alcohol-free alternatives

    Of course, not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t still go out to pubs and bars.

    “My husband has been told he can’t drink alcohol,” said Amanda Hopkins. “So, as he is a real ale drinker, we made a pact to still go to country location but to just check out ‘alcohol-free’ ales and to become connoisseurs of the growing ‘alcohol-free’ ranges that are now appearing from many microbreweries.

    “It won’t be quite the same but we hope it will be a bit of fun tasting them.”

    AUTHOR: Kathy M agreed: “I sometimes have a non-alcoholic beer shandy so I feel like I am having a pint and I’ve discovered things like elderflower cordial with soda. There’s nothing wrong with ordering a fancy coffee or mocktail either.”

    Drinking alcohol after Stroke

      ▪ Drinking too much alcohol contributes to a number of risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure.
      ▪ Alcohol can interfere with the medicine you take to reduce stroke risk.
      ▪ Your doctor can advise when it is safe for you to start drinking alcohol again and how much alcohol it is safe for you to drink.
      ▪ Healthy men and women should have no more than two standard drinks a day, and no more than four standard drinks on any one occasion.

    Alcohol and stroke risk

    Drinking too much alcohol contributes to a number of risk factors for stroke. If you have already had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA), you can help reduce your risk by only drinking a safe amount.

    High blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for stroke, and drinking too much raises your blood pressure. Atrial fibrillation, which is a type of irregular heartbeat, can be triggered by too much alcohol.

    Diabetes and being overweight also increase your risk of having a stroke. Both of are linked to alcohol consumption.

    Alcoholic drinks are also high in calories with little nutritional value. Reducing the amount you drink will support you to maintain a healthy weight.

    Hemorrhagic stroke and alcohol

    A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a break in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain. If you have had a hemorrhagic stroke, you must not drink alcohol for at least three weeks after your stroke. Ask your doctor when it is safe to start drinking alcohol again.

    Drinking alcohol and your medication

    Alcohol could interfere with the medicine you take particularly, blood-thinning medicine such as Warfarin. Discuss with your doctor about whether it is safe to drink alcohol while taking any medicines.

    Consuming alcohol safely if your doctor clears you to

    The Guidelines for Alcohol Consumption gives advice about safe amounts of alcohol.

    AUTHOR: Remember, the Guidelines are for healthy people. Talk to your doctor about whether it is safe for you to drink at all, and whether the amounts in the Guidelines are safe for you.

    The Guidelines state that healthy men and women should have no more than two standard drinks on any day and if you go out, no more than four standard drinks on any one occasion.

      ▪ For spirits with 40 % ABV, a standard drink is 30 mls (1.5 fl oz)
      ▪ A 285 ml (10 fl oz) glass of 3.5% ABV beer is about 1 standard drink.
      ▪ 100 ml (3.5 fl oz) of wine or champagne is approximately one standard drink, however this varies between types. Keep in mind most glasses of wine served in restaurants and bars are more than 100 ml (3.5 fl oz).
      ▪ Always check the label on the bottle to find out how many standard drinks you are having.
      If you find you are tempted to go over your safe limits learn strategies to help you keep to them.

    Strategies to reduce your drinking

    Write down how many drinks you have to see how much and how often you drink.
    If you find that you are drinking more than is safe, try these tips:

      ▪ Drink water when you are thirsty rather than alcohol.
      ▪ Sip your drink slowly. Put down the glass after each mouthful.
      ▪ At social occasions, make every second drink a non-alcoholic beverage. Choose something like a sparkling water rather than a sugary drink.
      ▪ Try low-alcohol alternatives such as light beer.
      ▪ Opt out of ‘shouts’. Drink at your own pace. If you cannot avoid buying a round, get yourself a non-alcoholic drink.
      ▪ Avoid salty snacks such as potato chips or peanuts. These make you thirsty and more inclined to drink quickly.
      ▪ Set goals such as not drinking alone and have at least two days without alcohol each week.
      ▪ Do not drink on an empty stomach. A full stomach slows the absorption of alcohol

    Brain Injury affects different people in different ways. There is no one size fits all. For some, their relationship with alcohol will be over. For others, a moderate consumption can be tolerated. Complete your recovery and then discuss with your medical practitioner your options. Do not make any decisions without consulting them first.

    This post is shared from the Stroke Association AU and Headway UK websites
     
    CLICK HERE to read the original article
     

    Computer Vision Syndrome

     

    Caring for Your Vision with So Much Screen-Time!

    Avoid “Computer Vision Syndrome”

    By Carl Hillier, OD FCOVD

     
    Most of us are engaged in “screen time” more than ever before—using Zoom/Skype/FaceTime as a tele-therapy platform. For many, this can be very successful, but also potentially very visually stressful.

    We recommend the following guidelines to help minimize the following problems associated with excess screen-time—collectively known as “Computer Vision Syndrome”:

    • Cognitive Fatigue
    • Visual Fatigue/Eye Strain
    • Dry Eye Symptoms
    • Blurred Distance Vision
    • Headache
    • Neck and Shoulder Pain
    • Poor-Quality Sleep

     

    Things to do to alleviate the symptoms above:

    • Take scheduled breaks from screen time at least every 30 minutes, walking away from the computer for at least 2 minutes.
    • During these 2 minutes, stand or sit in a very relaxed way and rotate your body without moving your feet—try to look behind you one way, then back to the other way as far as you are able.
    • Check each eye individually during these 2-minute breaks to ensure you are not losing distance vision from either eye.
    • Acquire optical quality lenses that deflect the harmful blue light that emanates from screens. Your optometrist can get the proper protective lenses for you.
    • Research-proven nutritional supplementation solutions:
      • Lutein (10 mg), Zeaxanthin (2 mg) and Mesozeaxanthin (10 mg)—to improve visual performance, sleep quality and decrease adverse physical symptoms
      • Omega-3—Minimum EPA: 400 mg; Minimum DHA: 960 mg
    • Stop screen time 2 hours before going to sleep.
    • Get outside as much as possible!

    If you would like more advice on how to establish a strong visual foundation for the demands of online learning, just let us know. We can provide activities for you to do off-line that will help you maintain good vision while you are on-line!

    Carl G. Hillier, OD FCOVD
    Melissa C. Hillier, OD FCOVD
    San Diego Center For Vision Care
    SanDiegoCenterForVisionCare.com

    CLICK HERE to download the original article
     

     

    What’s the difference between all the different head scans (X-Ray, CT, MRI, MRA, PET scan)? And what do they show in the head?

    Michael S. Tehrani, M.D.Follow Founder & CEO at MedWell Medical

     
    Ever wonder what’s the difference between all the different head scans (xray, CT, MRI, MRA, PET scan) and what they show in the head. Well wonder no more. The Dr. T easy to understand version…

    X-Ray: shows bone/skull only. Does not show the brain. Best used to detect if there are bone fractures.

    CT: a quick test. Shows brain but detail not great. Shows if any larger bleed, stroke, lesions, or masses.

    MRI: a long test. Shows brain and detail is great. Shows smaller bleeds, stroke, lesions, or masses.

    MRA:
    shows the flow of blood in the vasculature system of the brain. If there is vessel narrowing or blockage this test would show it.

    PET scan: shows how active different parts of the brain is. An active brain uses sugar as energy and pet scan detects how much sugar is being used by lighting up and turning different colors. The more sugar being used the more that area will light up and be different in colors. Cancer cells use the most sugar so cancer cells light up the most. PET scan is used to see if there are cancer cells. (Cancer cells replicate at a very fast and uncontrolled rate hence use a lot of sugar to allow that replication hence why they light up so much).

    CLICK HERE to download the original article
     

     

    Top 10 Volunteer Opportunities in San Diego in 2019

    September 25, 2019, by Mary at greatnonprofits.org

     
    Want to volunteer or intern at a great San Diego nonprofit? Whether you’re new to the city and want to learn about its charities, trying to change up your routine with some local charity work, or just want to volunteer or intern at a neighborhood nonprofit, everyone knows that the best way to find the right place for you is from the people who’ve been there!

    Here’s a list of volunteers’ and interns’ favorite San Diego charities. Every nonprofit on this list has earned an overall score of 4 or greater out of 5 on GreatNonprofits.org. If your favorite San Diego nonprofit or volunteer gig is missing, find it on GreatNonprofits.org, write a positive review, and show your co-volunteers how to start adding reviews and get it on the list!

    Mayan Families
    We just returned after 10 days working with Mayan Families. I, along with my daughter and nephew, have been volunteering with this great nonprofit for the past four years. The focus of our volunteering has been to raise money for the purpose of installing stoves for indigenous families living around Lake Atitlán. The beauty of this particular program, and most of the programs run by Mayan Families, is the direct and immediate impact they have on the recipients. We love the fact that we see where the money we raised is going and that we literally have a hand in helping change the lives of people who truly need the help.

    “We continue to be impressed with Mayan Families’ dedication to its motto to ‘Educate, Feed, Shelter, Feed’ these wonderful people around Lake Atitlán.” –David Kujan

    Sepsis Alliance
    “As a small nonprofit, they do a tremendous job of spreading awareness about sepsis and as a result have reached millions of people to educate them about the signs and symptoms of this condition, albeit with their limited staff and budget.

    “I feel confident in asking others for donations for this organization, as I have seen firsthand that they use their funds very effectively.” –Lynn S1

    Labrador Rescuers
    “Lab Rescue goes over and above to help match the right family with the right lab.

    They have a great foster program that provides information about the traits of the labs to help find the right fit. We can improve our program by increasing the number of people helping to promote intake, fostering, adoptions, and fundraising.” –mobileUser381273

    San Diego Dance Theatre
    “The Dance Fierce program has served as an incredible creative outlet for students from all backgrounds and has united these students through the art of dance. Students who participate in this program are more well-rounded, expressive, and balanced. They pride themselves on their hard work and are more motivated every day through their experiences.” –Mmctighe

    San Diego Brain Injury Foundation
    “I ended up doing one of my internships at SDBIF. Never have I seen so few accomplish so much for so many on so little resources.

    I can only imagine how much more dynamic and influential in helping those with brain injuries, myself included, this organization could be if they had additional funding. The ‘F’ signifying foundation should be changed to ‘Family’—as this organization helps us all to feel this way during very trying times that can last for years.” –Michael Murphy

    College Area Pregnancy Services
    “During the almost 14 years that I volunteered at CAPS as a counselor I witnessed firsthand the impact this place has on every client who comes in. Women from all ages come burdened with fear, confusion, and uncertainty. Volunteers and staff at CAPS are able to provide a safe, nonjudgmental place for these women where they find not only help and resources, but also a caring and personal environment. A comment I most often heard after a counseling appointment was ‘This place is so nice, I felt comfortable and welcomed here.’

    “CAPS will be forever in my heart, and love to tell others about it.” –Ana_39

    The League of Amazing Programmers
    “The League has done an incredible job exposing young people to the vast world of computers in a way that is fun and interactive!

    As a volunteer, I have seen kids develop confidence and problem-solving prowess before my very eyes, all while developing skills they will use for the rest of their lives!” –Mike D3

    Mind Treasures
    “I’ve had the privilege of volunteering with this wonderful organization for many years. Their program is changing the lives of the children one student and school at the time. Children are becoming aware of their hidden potentials and learning how to use these resources in their personal, family, and community finances.” –MT Volunteer 1

    The Seany Foundation
    “The passion that you see from those involved in this foundation is infectious. From the founders, board members, organizers, and volunteers you see an intense commitment to carry on the fight for whom this foundation is in honor of, Sean Robins. The rapidly accelerating success in awareness and donations is a testament to their effectiveness as an organization and their tremendous potential.” –Keenan 27

    Voice of the Bride Ministries
    “Voice of the Bride is a beautiful expression of community love and hard work. I’m constantly amazed at how far they manage to stretch each dollar and how many people they touch—be it by feeding families, helping community, or simply being a force of goodness in an area. They truly love the poor and give to the needy.” –FreckldFlower

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    These brain facts dispel many brain myths based on outdated knowledge. Learn how the brain works, for better (or worse). The original article, link at the bottom of the page, has the fact citations

     

    72 Amazing Human Brain Facts (Based on the Latest Science)

    Created by Deane Alban | Reviewed by Patrick Alban, DC
    Last updated on February 6, 2019
    BeBrainFit.com

     
    There are a lot of myths and misinformation about the brain that pass as brain “facts.”

    This is somewhat understandable: The study of the human brain is one of the least explored areas in science and even experts agree that there is more we don’t know about the brain than we currently do know.

    In recent years, our knowledge of the brain has exploded — most of what we know about the brain has been discovered in just the last 15 years.

    So the real brain facts haven’t always entered mainstream awareness yet.

    This is a newly expanded and updated article.

    We will continue to update this as new information comes to light, but for right now, here are 72 fascinating brain facts, all backed by the latest science.

      HUMAN BRAIN FACTS BY THE NUMBERS

    1. The typical brain comprises about 2% of the body’s total weight, but uses 20% of its total energy and oxygen intake.
    2. Your brain is 73% water. It takes only 2% dehydration to affect your attention, memory and other cognitive skills.
    3. Ninety minutes of sweating can temporarily shrink the brain as much as one year of aging does.
    4. Your brain weighs about three pounds. Sixty percent of the dry weight is fat, making the brain the most fatty organ in the body.
    5. Twenty-five percent of the body’s cholesterol resides within the brain. Cholesterol is an integral part of every brain cell. Without adequate cholesterol, brain cells die.
    6. No one knows for sure, but the latest estimate is that our brains contain roughly 86 billion brain cells.
    7. Each neuron can transmit 1,000 nerve impulses per second and make as many as tens of thousands of synaptic contacts with other neurons.
    8. A piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses, all communicating with each other.
    9. All brain cells are not alike. There are as many as 10,000 specific types of neurons in the brain.
    10. Your brain needs a constant supply of oxygen. As little as five minutes without oxygen can cause some brain cells to die, leading to severe brain damage.
    11. Babies have big heads to hold rapidly growing brains. A 2-year-old’s brain is 80% of adult size.
    12. As any parent can attest, teenage brains are not fully formed. It isn’t until about the age of 25 that the human brain reaches full maturity.
    13. Brain information travels up to an impressive 268 miles per hour. This is faster than Formula 1 race cars which top out at 240 mph.
    14. Your brain generates about 12-25 watts of electricity. This is enough to power a low-wattage LED light.
    15. There’s a reason the brain has been called a “random thought generator.” The average brain is believed to generate up to 50,000 thoughts per day.
    16. Every minute, 750-1,000 milliliters of blood flows through the brain. This is enough to fill a bottle of wine or liter bottle of soda.
    17. Your brain can process an image that your eyes have seen for as little as 13 milliseconds — less time than it takes for you to blink.
    18.  
      FUN FACTS ABOUT BRAIN SIZE

    19. In general, men’s brains are 10% bigger than women’s, even after taking into account larger body size. However, the hippocampus, the part of the brain most strongly linked with memory, is typically larger in women.
    20. Albert Einstein’s brain weighed 2.71 pounds (1,230 grams) — 10% smaller than the average of 3 pounds (1,400 grams). However, the neuron density of his brain was greater than average.
    21. Neanderthal brains were 10% larger than our Homo sapiens brains.
    22. While humans have the largest brains proportional to body weight of all animals, we don’t have the biggest brains. That distinction belongs to sperm whales with 17-pound brains.
    23. Human brains have gotten significantly smaller over the past 10-20,000 years. The lost volume is equivalent to the size of a tennis ball.
    24. The hippocampus, the part of the brain considered the “memory center,” is significantly larger in London cab drivers. This is due to the mental workout they get while navigating the 25,000 streets of London.
    25.  
      THE EFFECTS OF THE MODERN LIFESTYLE ON THE BRAIN

    26. Chronic stress and depression are rampant in modern life. Either can cause measurable brain shrinkage.
    27. The modern diet is low in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Low levels of omega-3s result in brain shrinkage equivalent to two years of structural brain aging.
    28. Since the Victorian era, average IQs have gone down 1.6 points per decade for a total of 13.35 points.
    29. Technology has forced most of us to be prodigious multitaskers. But your brain can’t learn or concentrate on two things at once. What it can do is quickly toggle back and forth between tasks. But doing so decreases your attention span, ability to learn, short-term memory, and overall mental performance.
    30. Unexpectedly, millennials (aged 18 to 34) are more forgetful than baby boomers. They are more likely to forget what day it is or where they put their keys than their parents!
    31. Attention spans are getting shorter. In 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds. Now, it’s 8 seconds. That’s shorter than the 9-second attention span of the average goldfish.
    32. Brain cells cannibalize themselves as a last ditch source of energy to ward off starvation. So, in very real ways, dieting, especially low-fat diets, can force your brain to eat itself.
    33. Over 140 proteins in the brain are negatively impacted by exposure to electromagnetic frequencies, the kind emitted by your cell phone and other electronic devices.
    34. Relying on GPS to navigate destroys your innate sense of direction, a skill that took our ancestors thousands of years to develop and hone. When areas of the brain involved in navigation are no longer used, those neural connections fade away via a process known as synaptic pruning.
    35.  
      BRAIN FACTS UPDATE: MYTHS DEBUNKED

    36. The popular myth that we use only 10% of our brains is flat-out wrong. Brain scans clearly show that we use most of our brain most of the time, even when we’re sleeping.
    37. There is no such thing as a left-brain or right-brain personality/skill type. We are not left-brained or right-brained; we are “whole-brained.”
    38. In spite of what you’ve been told, alcohol does not kill brain cells. What excessive alcohol consumption can do is damage the connective tissue at the end of neurons.
    39. The “Mozart effect” has been debunked. While listening to certain kinds of music can improve memory and concentration, there’s nothing unique about listening to Mozart.
    40. You may have heard that we have more brain cells than there are stars in the Milky Way, but this is not true. Best-guess estimates are that we have 86 billion neurons while there are 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way.
    41. It’s often said that there are 10,000 miles of blood vessels in the brain when, actually, that number is closer to 400 miles. Still, a substantial amount!
    42. Contrary to the prevailing medical belief, having high total cholesterol is not bad for your brain. (See #5) In fact, high cholesterol actually reduces your risk of dementia.
    43. Until recently, it was a “fact” that you were born with a set level of intelligence and number of brain cells. But it has since been discovered that your brain has the capacity to change throughout your lifetime due to a property known as brain plasticity. The brain can continue to form new brain cells via a process known as neurogenesis.
    44.  
      FACTS ABOUT THE BRAIN AND MEMORY

    45. Memory is better thought of as an activity rather than being associated with a specific area of the brain. Any given memory is deconstructed and distributed in different parts of the brain. Then, for the memory to be recalled, it gets reconstructed from the individual fragments.
    46. Your brain starts slowing down at the ripe old age of 24, but peaks for different cognitive skills at different ages. In fact, at any given age, you’re likely getting better at some things and worse at others. An extreme case is vocabulary skills which may peak as late as the early 70s!
    47. If you were drinking alcohol and don’t remember what you did last night, it’s not because you forgot. While you are drunk, your brain is incapable of forming memories.
    48. It’s generally believed that people with exceptional memories are born that way, but this is rarely the case. Most memory masters will tell you that having an outstanding memory is a skill they developed by employing the best memory techniques.
    49.  
      FACTS ABOUT BRAIN FORM AND FUNCTION

    50. Human brain tissue is not dense. It’s very fragile — soft and squishy similar to the consistency of soft tofu or gelatin.
    51. The brain produces a half cup of fluid every day. It floats in this bath of cerebrospinal fluid which acts as a shock absorber to keep the brain from being crushed by its own weight.
    52. Sometimes half a brain is a good as a whole one. When surgeons operate to stop seizures, they remove or disable half of the brain in a procedure known as a hemispherectomy. Shockingly, patients experience no effect on personality or memory.
    53. Your brain has a pattern of connectivity as unique as your fingerprints.
    54. Although pain is processed in your brain, your brain has no pain receptors and feels no pain. This explains how brain surgery can be performed while the patient is awake with no pain or discomfort. Headache pain feels like it starts in your brain, but is caused by sensations from nearby skin, joints, sinuses, blood vessels or muscles.
    55. Brain freeze sure feels like pain in the brain but is an example of referred pain emanating from the roof of the mouth. Fortunately, brain freeze does not freeze brain cells because frozen brain cells rupture and turn to mush.
    56. The brains of introverts and extroverts are measurably different. MRIs reveal that the dopamine reward network is more active in the brains of extroverts while introverts’ brains have more gray matter.
    57. According to research done at Cambridge University, the order of letters in a word doesn’t matter much to your brain. As long as the first and last letters are in the right spot, your brain can rearrange the letters to form words as fast as you can read. This is why you can easily make sense out of this jumble of letters:
      Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
      Pretty amazing!
    58.  
      HOW THE BRAIN COMPARES TO A COMPUTER

    59. Your brain’s storage capacity is considered virtually unlimited. It doesn’t get “used up” like RAM in your computer.
    60. The latest research shows that the brain’s memory capacity is a quadrillion, or 1015, bytes. Astoundingly, this is about the same amount needed to store the entire internet!
    61. The human brain is capable of 1,016 processes per second, which makes it far more powerful than any existing computer.
    62. Researchers involved in the AI Impacts project have developed a way to compare supercomputers to brains — by measuring how fast a computer can move information around within its own system. By this standard, the human brain is 30 times more powerful than the IBM Sequoia, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers.
    63. Japan’s K computer is one of the most powerful computers in the world. When programmed to simulate human brain activity, it took 40 minutes to crunch the data equivalent to just one second of brain activity.
    64. &nbsp:
      EVIDENCE OUR BRAINS “COULD BE BETTER”

    65. There are almost 200 known cognitive biases and distortions that cause us to think and act irrationally.
    66. Memories are shockingly unreliable and change over time. Emotions, motivation, cues, context and frequency of use can all affect how accurately you remember something. This includes “flash bulb memories” which occur during traumatic events.
    67. Of the thousands of thoughts a person has every day, it’s estimated that 70% of this mental chatter is negative — self-critical, pessimistic, and fearful.
    68. Think you’re in control of your life? Don’t be so sure. Ninety-five percent of your decisions take place in your subconscious mind.
    69. A blood-brain barrier protects your brain by preventing many foreign substances in your vascular system from reaching the brain. But the barrier doesn’t work perfectly and many substances sneak through. Nicotine rushes into the brain in a mere 7 seconds. Alcohol, on the other hand, takes 6 minutes.
    70. Our brains crave mental stimulation, sometimes to a fault. Men especially would rather give themselves electric shocks than sit quietly in a room and think!
    71. Synesthesia is a condition where stimulation of one sense automatically evokes a perception of another sense. People with synesthesia might “taste” words, “smell” sounds, or see numbers as colors. While it’s not known exactly why this occurs, the prevailing theory is that these brains have hyper-connectivity between sensory areas in the brain.
    72. The human brain is extraordinarily complex and consequently can go awry in some spectacular ways. Some of the strangest disorders include exploding head syndrome disorder (hearing phantom explosions in your head), Capgras syndrome (thinking loved ones have been substituted by impostors, robots or aliens), and Cotard’s syndrome (believing you are dead).
    73. Savant syndrome is a condition where those with serious mental disabilities have an “island of genius.” The most common areas of genius fall into one of these categories: music, art, mathematics, mechanical, or spatial skills.
    74. Most savants are born that way, but a brain trauma can cause acquired savant syndrome where ordinary people suddenly develop genius-level abilities they didn’t have before.
    75. Brain cells need a constant supply of fuel to stay alive, yet they lack the ability to store energy. Fortunately, there’s a backup system. Your liver breaks down stored fat to produce ketone bodies that can be used as a substitute fuel when commonly-used blood glucose is not available.
    76.  
      BRAIN FACTS THAT ARE JUST PLAIN WEIRD

    77. The brain in your head isn’t your only brain. There’s a “second brain” in your intestines that contains 100 million neurons. Gut bacteria are responsible for making over 30 neurotransmitters including the “happy molecule” serotonin.
    78. Some scientists believe zombies could actually be created. They think it’s possible that a mutated virus or parasites could attack the brain and rapidly spread throughout large populations, essentially causing a “zombie apocalypse.”
    79. Users of Apple devices really are different than those who use Android products. (It’s not your imagination.) MRIs reveal that Apple products stimulate the “god spot” in their users’ brains — the same part of the brain activated by religious imagery in people of faith.
    80. Few facts about the brain are as strange as the posthumous story of Albert Einstein’s brain. The pathologist who performed Einstein’s autopsy kept the brain in a jar in his basement for 40 years. Eventually, he made a cross-country trip with the brain in a Tupperware container to deliver it to Einstein’s granddaughter.

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