100 questions and illustrated answers: how to take good care of your brain

100 illustrated questions and answers: how to take good care of your brain

UPGRADE DAY

How is the brain made? How do the five senses work? What foods are good for the brain? What happens in the brain of an astronaut? Can we improve the performance of our brain? What happens in the brain when we are in love? Neurologist, researcher at Laval University's CERVO Research Center and author of best-selling books on the brain and meditation, Dr. Steven Laureys explains the brain in 100 questions and illustrated answers in a new book for everyone, Braingraphy.

An excellent popularizer, Dr. Steven Laureys explains many interesting elements in his new book: emotions, cognitive abilities, brain function, genetics, degenerative diseases, transhumanism, empathy and relationships with others.

That can we do to help our brain function well? “That is the field of neuroplasticity. I think it's becoming clearer and I'm a big advocate for the importance of lifestyle habits. So I think it's good to be interested in your brain health,” he said in an interview.

“This neuroplasticity, this ability of the brain to change, I think it is very well documented now by neuroscience and we have a role to play. We have the possibility, I would even say, the responsibility, to take an interest in our brain. »

What lifestyle habits can you put in place to help yourself? “In our society, there is already the problem of distraction. It is difficult to keep our focus and studies show that 60% of the time, we are elsewhere. Meditation is an invitation to train your attention,” he explains, pointing out that you can sometimes have these thoughts that circle around and create insomnia and anxiety.

He also recommends training in empathy and compassion, so as to become better people. 

“Meditation, physical activity, sleep… somewhere, we know it. But the challenge is to do it. »

The effects of the pandemic

Life circumstances like the pandemic sometimes make the context difficult. 

< p>“It has been demonstrated. There's a study coming out of Stanford that uses MRI to show that young people have suffered a lot. We see it with the exams. The scans show that there is a decrease in cortical thickness, structures like the amygdala which are larger, this is known when we have more difficulty in terms of our emotional stability.

Dr. Laureys thinks it's important to give young people tools to deal with stress differently. 

“Covid has already asked a lot. It has been demonstrated. It's a form of negative neuroplasticity, so the good news is that it's reversible and you can give tools and you shouldn't. We continue, at school, to put too much emphasis on knowledge and we are not computers. We have emotions and emotional intelligence. I think we could do better there. »

Emotional intelligence lessons

The neurologist believes that emotional intelligence should be taught, just like physical activity, with a teacher and fixed hours.

“I think we could do the same thing for our good – to be mental. This has already been demonstrated in pilot studies, but now it needs to be made more structural, from early childhood through university. Obviously we're going to have to do that. »

  • Dr Steven Laureys is a neurologist and FNRS research director. He directs the Brain2 Center at the University Hospital of Liège, Belgium, and the GIGA Consciousness and Coma Science Group research unit at the University of Liège.
  • He is known for his work on the consciousness of brain-damaged patients.
  • He has published Such a brilliant brain and Meditation is good for the brain , two books that have been very successful.
  • He has been working since the beginning of 2022 at the CERVO Research Center at Laval University, in Quebec, where he is setting up a laboratory.
  • He is available to present wellness talks.

EXTRACT

< strong>“ The feeling of love begins with an alert mechanism that leads to the release of norepinephrine produced by the adrenal glands. This increases vigilance, increases the heart rate – which explains why the heart beats wildly at the sight of the loved one –, prevents sleep, reduces appetite. »