What is Integrated Discovery?

What is Integrated Discovery?

Ontario is among the world leaders in producing high quality brain research. We lag, however, when it comes to commercialization. What does this mean? It means we are really good at developing knowledge about the brain, but there is a disconnect when it comes to turning this knowledge into tools that can help people. Continue reading “What is Integrated Discovery?”

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Stress is a normal response to a danger or threat. Everyone feels stress – it is what drives us to succeed. A problem arises, however, when we have too little stress (a problem many of us cannot relate to) or too much stress, especially if the stress becomes overwhelming or prolonged.

When the brain perceives a stressful situation, it releases a stress signal – either cortisol or adrenaline. In small amounts, these chemicals can have a positive effect on the brain, for example, the adrenaline rush before a deadline helps you get that extra focus that you need to get your project done. Continue reading “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

Sleep On It

Hemmingway said: “I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know”. Well sleep isn’t just important for escaping life’s worries. It’s actually critical for healthy living. Although it isn’t well understood exactly why we need to sleep, it is clear that we cannot function without it. In the short-term, sleep deprivation causes memory problems, impaired immune system function, attention deficit, and even hallucinations. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Research shows that we need to get regular, consistent sleep (ideally about 8 hours). Continue reading “Sleep On It”

Take Your Brain for a Walk

We know that exercise is good for your heart, your waistline, and your muscles. But did you also know that exercise is really good for your brain?

Exercise has been shown to increase levels of proteins in the brain called “neurotrophins” (for example, BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor). Neurotrophins help protect our brain cells (neurons) against damage and death. Neurotrophins have also been associated with helping the brain grow new neurons, a process called “neurogenesis”.  Until recently, we thought that the human brain was unable to make new neurons – that we were stuck with the cells we were born with. We now know, however, that we can grow new neurons. There are several triggers – one is exercise. These new cells are known to develop in a very specific area of the brain, which is important for learning and memory.

So, exercise (and its effects on the brain) helps protect our brain cells and helps grow new ones too. Continue reading “Take Your Brain for a Walk”