When people learn to “love their brain,” their entire lives will change.
On Sept. 18, nationally recognized brain researcher Daniel Amen, M.D. spoke to nearly 400 educators, students and parents about this topic. His message was the kickoff for a series of workshops titled “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life before 25,” that will be taught at Corban University by Director of Undergraduate Education Jesse Payne, Ed.D.
Throughout the 90-minute presentation, Amen showed attendees ways they can develop regular brain healthy habits and specific habits that can destroy brain function. While addressing a serious topic, he made use of humor.
“If you had a million dollar race horse, would you feed it junk food?” he inquired. “You wouldn’t give a race horse fast food or a Snickers, yet this is exactly the kind of garbage we are putting into our bodies.” Along with food, he discussed how trauma, and even unhealthy thoughts can affect the brain.
“Don’t believe every stupid thought you have,” he said. “Anytime you are hard on yourself, ask yourself if that thought is true. Be aware of the little lies you tell yourself because they will keep you from reaching your potential. ‘I deserve this unhealthy treat because…’”
Part of the presentation included brain SPECT scans showing side-by-side examples of healthy and unhealthy brains, which elicited audible gasps from the crowd. The brains included ones damaged through trauma, obesity, oxygen deprivation, contact sports and more. The presentation was personal for Joanne Swanson, a substitute teacher in the Salem-Keizer Public Schools.
“My mom has dementia so the thought of dementia and Alzheimer’s scares me,” she said. “What was really exciting is that we can do something about our brains. Even though I’m 57, I know I can make changes now that can help me in the future.” She said Amen’s message also gave her practical information she can pass to her students.
“I work with middle school kids and I know there are several ways I can incorporate brain health into my classes,” she said.
Corban alumna Kaitlin Pearson, ’13, attended not as an educator but for her own personal knowledge.
“I’m thinking about a career in counseling or as a life coach and this is information I can pass along to my clients,” she said. “His presentation reinforced what I have been learning about diet and exercise and the balance you need to have in your life.”
The “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life before 25” workshops begin in October. The workshops are being offered to Salem-Keizer Public Schools teachers and counselors. One master’s level credit from Corban University is being offered to those who complete the monthly workshop series. For more information, email Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rachael Harms, SKPS Professional Development Coordinator at email@example.com.