Monday, August 31, 2015

I Don’t Sleep Well

I hear this from people all over the world! My first response is “Stop telling your brain anything that you do not wish to be true.” When you say ‘I don’t sleep well,’ a representation of what they means goes into working memory, located directly behind your forehead. Your brain perceives that ‘if you put that into working memory it must be important to you,’ and the brain does everything it can to help you achieve that goal. In this case, not sleeping well. Therefore, knowing that sleep is independently linked with longevity and that your brain appears to be cleared of toxins during sleep, change what you tell your brain. It can only do what it thinks it can do and you tell it what it can do through your thoughts, self-talk, and directions to your brain. I perceive of my brain as a connected although separate entity, so I talk to my brain using the pronoun you. Most nights I tell my brain: “You are falling asleep quickly and easily and staying asleep until ____________ am.” And in most cases that’s exactly what happens.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Clearing Your Brain of Toxins, 3

Results of the new study, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the NIH, suggests that during sleep the brain is cleared of damaging molecules associated with neurodegeneration. Sleep changes the cellular structure of the brain. It appears to be a completely different state,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., leader of the study. Not only is sleep important for storing memories, it may be also be the period when the brain cleanses itself of toxic molecules. It appears that during sleep a plumbing system called the glymphatic system opens, letting fluid flow rapidly through the brain. Glial cells help control the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, through the glymphatic system by shrinking or swelling. Since this appears to happen only during sleep, it highlights the critical importance of sleep in clearing the brain of toxins.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Clearing Your Brain of Toxins, 2

Researchers measured how long the dye lasted in the brain when the mice were asleep versus awake. They found that the dye flowed rapidly through mice brains when the mice were unconscious, either asleep or anesthetized. In contrast, the dye barely flowed when the same mice were injected with labeled beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Beta-amyloid disappeared faster in mice brains when the mice were asleep, suggesting sleep normally clears toxic molecules from the brain. “These results may have broad implications for multiple neurological disorders,” said Jim Koenig, Ph.D., a program director at NINDS. It also suggests a new role for sleep and may highlight the critical importance of sleep for prevention as well as healthy on-going brain care. “We need sleep. It cleans up the brain,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and a leader of the study.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Clearing Your Brain of Toxins

It is believed that toxic molecules involved in neurodegenerative disorders accumulate in the space between brain cells. In a new study funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the NIH, researchers hoped to discover mechanisms by which these toxins are cleared from the brain. Using mice, researchers showed for the first time that the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours. To determine whether the glymphatic system controls this process, researchers initially injected dye into the CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) of mice and watched it flow through their brains while simultaneously monitoring electrical brain activity.

 Scientists watched dye flow through the brain of a sleeping mouse.

Courtesy of Nedergaard Lab, University of Rochester Medical Center.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

San Antonio, TX

Steve Horton just sent me this shot taken at the Pacific Health Education Center booth in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Sharlet Briggs is sitting at the left (in a turquoise blouse), and I am on the right with my laptop open on the table. At that very moment, a clip was being shown on the screen of an interview I'd done with Michael Hudson. Fun.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sydney, Australia

As you know, travel (local or abroad) to see something new is touted as one way to help age-proof your brain. I had so much fun locating pictures last week, I decided to do a few more just for fun. On another lecture tour to Australia, Linnie Pohan took me to see kangaroos. No, they were not in a zoo, just hanging out in the country. It was quite an experience to be there among them, up close and personal, to say the least.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Human Screams of Terror, 3

Studying screams of terror, David Poeppel of New York University and colleagues have concluded that human screams of terror produce a sound that is unlike any other made by humans, and contains properties that are not found in any other type of human speech: male or female, adult or child. Using fMRI, they found that screams that were rougher more effectively activated the amygdala, which contains the brain’s fear circuits. By comparison, most other sounds tend to activate only the auditory cortex of the brain, at least initially. In addition, people seem to report the direction from which a scream originated more accurately than other non-terror sounds. The researchers theorize that the brain is uniquely tuned to screams. These unique properties may explain how our brains recognize and react to a scream so quickly, and could help develop a new generation of alarm systems, for one thing.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Human Screams of Terror, 2

Using a modulation power spectrum, David Poeppel of New York University and colleagues analyzed human screams of terror. They found, for instance that screams of terror produce a sound that is unlike any other made by humans. It has auditory qualities that no other human vocalization shares. They found for example, that unlike human speech that typically changes less than 5 hertz per second (meaning it stays around the same volume), the loudness of screams quickly fluctuates anywhere from 30 to 150 hertz per second. These fluctuations give the sound of a scream of terror a quality referred to as roughness. The scientists asked volunteers to listen to a variety of screams of terror. The rougher the sound—or the larger the variation in volume within a scream—the more fearful-sounding the volunteers ranked it. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Human Screams of Terror

There’s few human beings that would fail to recognize a scream of terror. But what makes that type of scream so universally recognizable? Up until recently, scientists studying human-produced noises have usually relied on a few conventional ways of visualizing the sounds. These included graphing the pressure of sound waves and/or plotting their frequencies over time. These study modalities when applied to human screams of terror, however, only revealed that these screams were louder and of higher pitch than normal speech. And, as David Poeppel of New York University put it, lots of things are loud and high-pitched. Using a modulation power spectrum that charts how quickly the volume of a sound changes over tiny amounts of time, Poeppel and colleagues decided to take another look at fearful screams, the type that make your hair stand on end. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


While lecturing during my second visit to Singapore, Dr. Eric Teo Choon Chew along with his wife Cynthia and their son, took me to the top of the Tiger Sky Tower. Billed as Asia's tallest free standing observation tower, it provided a fabulous view of Singapore, which is certainly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. And so clean! There is no garbage on the streets anywhere (likely in part due to anti-littering legislation that is enforced, and to 'no gum chewing' regulations). As I mentioned earlier, exposing one's brain to new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes through travel can be age-proofing. And I’m definitely working on age-proofing mine!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Introduction to Crêpes

With some French in my genealogy, I have always enjoyed crêpes. (There must be some cellular memory impact there because I've loved them since first taste.) There is a wonderful restaurant in Bakersfield that serves crêpes, During the 12-week beta for the Longevity Lifestyle Program sponsored by Pacific Health Education Center, I managed a couple of visits at lunch time. My mouth waters just remembering! On his birthday, I introduced Patrick to crêpes. You may be able to tell by the look on his face that he’ll be trying them again!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Quentin and Voice Tone

Friends of mine have an over-abundance (my brain's opinion, smile) of large, beautiful, and unusual parrots. One of them, Quentin, is not only gorgeous but also kinesthetic and totally lovable. Unfortunately, he is not overly bright (and that is giving him the benefit of the doubt). Quentin will sit on my finger for almost as long as I will talk to him, ruffling his crest and stretching out a wing now and then. It doesn't matter what I say as long as I say it in a voice that is warm, pleasant, and affirming. On one occasion I said, "Quentin, how can a bird that is so beautiful be so completely dumb?" Then we just had to laugh because he preened and strutted as if I had just given him the greatest compliment in the world. It reinforced for me the importance of tone of voice in communication--with birds and four-footed creatures as well as with people.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dr. Hyung Bae Park, Seoul, S. Korea

Back to S. Korea. I had the opportunity to spend a half-day with Dr. Hyung Bae Park during my lecture tour in S. Korea. Dr. Park is a physician who is heavily involved in studying brain function. It was most interesting to talk with him about the brain and find out more about his work. Fortunately, he spoke English very well--because my Korean is nonexistent!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

While lecturing in British Columbia, I had the best time reconnecting with Don and Inez Calder. At the time they were both close to 100. Talk about 'longevity!' I had known them as a girl growing up in Winnipeg and our paths hadn't crossed for decades. We had the best visit!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Reykjavik, Iceland

Well this is 'candid photography' if I ever saw it! On one of my lecture tours to Iceland, I was stranded because the volcano was erupting and all air traffic was shut down for several days. Due to the level of volcanic ash in the air and the wind direction, air-traffic control believed  it was unsafe to fly (e.g., the planes would suck so much ash into the jet engines that it could precipitate a crash). Fortunately, I had my computer with me and Jerry-rigged an 'office' with a pillow for a desk, so I could get some work done. Dr. Banford took a picture of my 'feet' for sure. Smile. We finally made it home after Unnur pulled some strings at the airport when the flying ban was lifted.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Michigan, USA


On a speaking engagement in Michigan, I met the Suekerts. The picture on the left is of Dr. and Mrs. Suekert and their 'pooch with a personality.' The other two are of their children and myself. I don't recall what the little guy and I were talking about but we were definitely engrossed. What fun to recall that visit!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Christchurch, New Zealand

Marina was a great host in New Zealand. Here we are (Marina is on the left) with two colleagues of hers. Since then Marina is the proud mother of a set of twins. I can only imagine how much work that is!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


On a visit to China, Barbara Hudson and her husband were on the same trip. We spent five days sailing on the Yangtze in a riverboat, and then flew to other locations to see the terracotta warriors, a marvelous set of bells that had been recently excavated, on to Shanghai (it was interesting to visit the city that had spawned the term 'shanghaid'), and so on. This picture was taken one evening when we were attending a Chinese cultural folklorico.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cairns, Australia

When I was speaking in Australia, my host (Kim Fowler) arranged for me to visit the rain forest up in the Cairns area. This picture shows Kim and Kristin Im, who was traveling with me on that trip, riding in a gondola. Talk about 'seeing forever.' It was amazing.

Monday, August 3, 2015

South Korea

We are in the process of converting my website to a more updated version. In that process, it appears my blog burped, at least metaphorically. So to catch up, I’ve gone through my files and found a few pictures from various places I’ve traveled and will post a few of them this week. Today’s picture is of Easton Reid, PhD, who graciously took me sightseeing when I was in Seoul, S. Korea. At the time he was teaching at Sahmyook University. Since then he has married a delightful and talented young woman and they have the cutest baby you could ever imagine. Interesting how a year or two changes things. Lillie Kiplee took our picture and then Easton took one of Lillie and me together.