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Neuroplasticity, Lifestyle Medicine and the Mind-Body Link

John Kelly
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John Kelly

Physician, Founding President of American College of Lifestyle Medicine



  • August 16, 2020
    2:00 AM
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So let's proceed we're going to be talking today about the brain that's changing itself and they. Are Ok neural plasticity in the mind brain connection and transformation I we aware that there are actually 2 hearts in the human body this is surprising to some people but actually we're talking about one Heart Of course that resides in the chest this is the pump that we all are familiar with pumping blood to all the body. You realize that using the chest heart beats continually over 330000000 times a year 3000000000 times in a lifetime and in fact it's some of the 1st fetal tissue that's identifiable with the naked eye well before there's actually any blood in the circulatory system we can see a pulse of tile tissue that's going to be the cardiac pump if it stops for even a few seconds we're going to pass out and if it doesn't start back at a few minutes we won't wake up no wonder that data shows that Medicare spend more funding and more time on the heart than any other organ in the body so there's another heart however that resides in the cranium rather than the chest this is the frontal lobes of the brain. And the chest heart is continually beating the brain the heart is continually making new connections it ever thought about how is it that so much information can be stored and the same amount of space the size of the cranium of a child is. A minor minor difference from an older person and yet millions of a bit of been stored in the brain is continually making new connections in fact physiology shows is that about 25 percent of the probably a gap put on the chest part supplies the brain and it's very. Image medical science is now exploring this cranial this labyrinth inside of our cranium and. Rattling the mysteries. We can now read with 90 percent accuracy our words even before we speak them are still not able to read our thoughts I say yes because who knows what we may learn to do but it is true. Acted to. Hear. The. Words with 90 percent accuracy my wife is a very practical woman and tells me well just wait a millisecond and you'll know exactly what I'm going to say but the But humor aside this is could be a wonderful advancement for those who have the and no voice box and no ability to speak. I think it will be in the brain Graham Hart is Phineas Gage many of you may be for me with him he's become Mr infamous because of an accident he had Here's a picture taken of him looks like a soldier with a rifle but if you look more closely we see that what he's holding is actually it. And if we look more closely also we'll see that it looks like the winking but actually is the left eye is closed because it's missing in this gaze lived in the 1800s but here. Was just a few years ago and L.O.'s one where they are mapping the changes plates and Kennedy's gauges brain as a result of his accident and you can see here the computer simulation looking at the connections that were destroyed and why is this important because of the phenomena that happened to Phineas Gage as a result of his accident what happened was in his job was tapping the. Charges that were placed in the boreholes during civil engineering where they were actually. Doing railroad building on highway building and one day the unthinkable happened where he was camping the dirt over the charge and the charge went off prematurely and that having Rob became a missile that went through finishes head as simulated here in this red. Showing And this is an actual photograph of his actual skull by the way which is going to preserve the cause of this remarkable effect that happened to him he was. Changed dramatically as a result of the attacks today it didn't kill him he didn't have it in fact him but what happened was many a stage went from sponsor all citizen and supervisor of men being perfect that he was. Just a changed personality and character altogether ended up spending. Leaving us a family at home and going to South America spending his money and just character completely transformed because of the disconnections from the frontal lobe that took place because of his accident and it helped us to understand the critical Portman's of the from below as a center of. Executive function in the brain is another photograph from the article published in 2012 so as I said Has he had a dramatic change in personality and character as a result of this destruction of the frontal lobe and the connections to it so there are 2 hearts in the human body and one in the chest one in the cranium but we've all heard of the heart and it's not even on the front page anymore when someone has. A pump removed from the chest of one person and we put it into the chest of another person if it is literally a remarkable and amazing bit of surgery but as I say it's so common we don't even think of it that way but how about this talking about a brain transplant. And that work is serious work is being done moving forward with this idea but before we get too excited about this like to ask you to think for a moment would you want to have a brain transplant if in fact it was possible. Someone else's brain in your body think about it a heart transplant is a donor a donated heart but a brain transplant that's more like a donated body someone else's brain put into our bodies so I haven't actually met anyone that has told me they would be interested in having a brain transplant if it was possible I'm fact some folks say well maybe if we could. Own ourselves and have a spare brain but if you know anything much about the way this works even that would not be the same you that would be. A different individual not only one of us. With each brain so actually turns out that of the 2 hearts the cranial heart is the most important this is the one that in fact I would like to suggest that the reason people are willing to undergo the traumatic experience of a heart transplant chest heart transplant is to keep the cranial heart going we want to continue to have a cognitive existence and that's why we're willing to replace the pump in our chat with someone else even those many times requires immune suppression and other kinds of on. This tissue in our body. So what we really need to do is to replace the brain we not want you know we want to rewire the brain we would like to to update the wiring so we say well I have good news for you. Plasticity as discovered that in fact that's what's happening so there are plasticity The Science of Your plasticity has changed radically everything that we thought we knew about the brain we had thought of it is hard wired in some cases and a little humor hardly wired but almost of what I'm going to be talking about here is drawn from the book and the research that's reported in. Voices book called The Brain the change of self that was on the bestseller list for quite some time he has a 2nd book on this. Stuff that's also quite remarkable what I'm talking about I want to give credit to changes so it isn't. The most valuable real estate in the universe is not really in Poco or Beverly Hills or even some future planet that we might colonize when this when we just if and when we destroy this. Earth but it's actually the brain or the surface area of the brain is sold to the highest bidder and used for whatever we are asking our brains to do in other words the rewiring of our brains is like continual ongoing function just like rebuilding the surface on the freeways or the highways in our country where they're constantly repaving rang particle area is Rima being remapped for maximum efficiency to perform whatever we are using our brains to do so for example if we take up piano playing and never played piano before as you practice and require your brain to become more expert at playing the piano the map on our of our. Brain the queen the cortex and motor neurons and that through our muscles of our hands in and the parts of our body that are used in this new function in this case piano playing those maps are revised and refined continually most of this work that we're talking about actually was discovered from the work of Paul Bach you media who is what we call a doctor doctor he was both an m.d. and he is a. Photo taken of him years ago or slain Dr Paul Martin readahead is deceased but he was known as the man who could connect anything to anything and in fact he was the one that. They used NASA used to develop the ability. The. Astronaut's spacesuit to provide sensory perception so they could actually perform tasks wearing this. Suit if you think about it the reason they wore these suits and wear them to wear them is because of the lack of pressure there's a vacuum in space and so they're this suit has to be capable of maintaining an adequate pressure inside the suit to protect the unit being and when you have something that's capable of having that much pressure and sustaining that pressure is very difficult then for the fingers to have any sensory perception so back to Bucky Rida the one that helped to design the receptor zx for this suit so that it would be capable of transmitting a sense of touch and feel to the astronaut inside is another picture of him conference so let me just tell a little bit about this story is he shared so what happened was that his father Pedro. Had died after. Paul's mother had died it was 5 whites died he had a stroke he was about 65 years of age and that stroke left him with heavy purchases basically he was paralyzed on a play that one side was unable to walk or speak and his son had 2 sons All right we've talked about and the younger brother George and his son George. Took care of him because at that time Paul was in residency and there was no way that all I had time to help with his spot was to George. Went to live with his son George George was left that he was actually just a medical student. And I say that with tongue in cheek he's still busy but he did have more time than Paul and so Peter went to live with his father and George says the only model I had was how babies learn so we played games rolling a ball like children and what he George and his father Pedro did was they they designed exercises to to improve. Pedro's. Motor function and eventually he regained he painter regained all functionality he was able actually to go back to work as a professor. And in New York and they were so excited and the Brueggemann that had taken place in the bullpen the full recovery they were excited and then they made an agreement that when Pedro. Died that they would have an autopsy and they would publish the results showing the villa to be true for the brain to recover after a stroke which was practically unheard of. Over the you know the rest of that story I'm sorry so paid to remarried and he taught for years he retired and then he died 7 years later and as a creed doctor. I'm sure there are deny and it revealed a massive area of brain had been destroyed by the stroke and the tissue was still the product still dead and useless to their surprise. But what Paul Bach the reader realize them was that his father's recovery had not been the result of brain healing tissue healing itself but of remapping the functions that had been carried on by a part of the brain that was destroyed those perceptions were remapped to the remaining good brain tissue and of at the time this list is in the same early seventies 19 late sixty's early seventy's it was considered impossible in fact when he submitted with Dr I realize that submitted an article for publication about this it was refused it was it was considered you know they didn't know the reviewers couldn't explain why but they certainly knew that it was not that these functions had been mapped to a different part of the brain the brain was considered the time to be quite hard wired. So do explain this just a little bit here's a little illustration the parts of the brain and how we map them and understand them but what we're talking about in this mapping is mapping that has to do with the cortex the surface of the brain and the mapping specific connections to organs or parts of the of the body and these maps we now have discovered through public to read and others we now know that this mapping process is ongoing. And constant I want to give you an example here a couple of patients that like to read and work with so what happened not only after a stroke and as happened with Paul's father but it also happens. In other cases years back to this picture of Dr Paul Buckley Rida and there's a picture of a lady that he worked with Cheryl slits is her name Cheryl had lost 95 to 100 percent of her vestibular brain functioning after taking the drug gen to mice and it's and then to buy out of that we learned in medical school have this unfortunate side effect that it in not monitored properly it can destroy that Mr Buehler function that part of the brain and that's what happened to Shirl So when she lost this the stimulus or brain function that's the part of the brain that basically reads and understands the ear canal and they give us a sense of position in space so she feels like she's on the well in fact she says even if after she if you lose about also the ground she still feels like she's falling because her best to the punch and is gone and she has to use the Eye eyesight to help or see how to stand so she can turn the lights out or. Close your eyes she will fall. And so her movement is shaky and jerky and she's mentally but he because she's busy always keeping her attention on the walls of the door line and so on to see that she's standing erect and not falling over. So somehow I. Want to read. Was mentioned to Shirl as perhaps some of the health care and indeed not to want to read a built an accelerometer was a sort of like a helmet that you could put on Shirl's head and he used a tongue sensor similar approach that they used with the astronauts in the early days of the. Design to provide feedback so that this little. Plate would you could put on their tongue in it for vide sensory input. About from the accelerometers so that if seeing her head was moving in one direction there would be impulses on her tongue in one certain pattern if your head was moving the other direction it would be a different pattern and the thing that's hard for us to comprehend until we experience it is that our brain quickly learns how to associate input with an experience so she said and then Surely she can feel this thing on her tongue but after a while it basically she forgot all about the fact that there was anything on her tongue and her she began to be able to stand erect because her brain was getting the input from this. Helmet the 6 other ometer and in the story she says and then she couldn't help it she would cry she cried for joy because with wearing this thing she could. Stand erect she she could think about of the things she could do things the side spent her entire energy just trying to stand. And what was really interesting was that after she had hand this device on. The shura would take it off and experiencing what to consider them in the mirror and that was that for a short period of time she could still function she would still have the ability for the stimulus Munchen to seem to work even though she wasn't wearing the Excel or ometer and what the bucket reader. Had had thought would happen and did was that this residual effect continued and each time she wore the helmet and took it off the residual effect was longer until finally that wonderful day happened that she did not need the helmet any longer the reverse residual effect became permanent and of course what we now know happened at the time we did not understand this but what we now know is happening with Hans of the continual remapping process when Searle was wearing the helmet that was providing the input from that was that was basically duplicating or paralleling the input from her ear canal those that function was being remapped to a functional brain surface area and so the vestibular function Shirl had lost was mapped to a different part of her brain and she was in fact cured. This gentle my son poising it was in fact the 1st and old time only time up to that point that such a thing had ever happened and here's a little simple illustration homunculus which is a more crude less. With less resolution a map where we often map. Parts of the body to the cortex the brain maps we're talking about are much more high resolution than these than the homunculus itself but it's a similar idea. So. I will now tell a little. Research story. This is a picture of the most common form of inductively that's and actually is when we have Web fused digits and the most common one actually is the 2nd 3rd. On the foot and typically this is no it's not a problem at all in fact it may not even be corrected however since actually involving fingers is much more serious loss of function and so those are almost always separated early in life so the web handed are definitely fixed whereas the foot may not be what researchers realized that this this. Correction This separation of this is was a wonderful natural opportunity for a study to learn more about this brain map because when they would map the brain of someone that had this Sendak to lead and not been separated there would actually only be a total of 4 digits mapped to the brain but after the. Syntactically the fingers the digits were separated is shown here in the right hand side after the surgery there would be within a matter of weeks days 2 weeks there would be 5 digits mapped to the brain and so many experience of the experiments of this type have helped us to understand how this thing quite a long it takes what kind of things can be done to speed the process up and just we're not going to a lot of that. But what we can see is clearly that neuroplasticity changes everything that we thought we understood about the brain back almost nothing in the brain is hard wired in that and we say almost with a question mark quite seriously because at this point there is no guarantee that anything is hardwired there are definitely some things that are. Easily being rewired other functions we haven't seen examples yet but most of the experts understood the lead in and think. I are brain connections are. Are flexible they're plastic they're they're capable being rewired. A key concept that comes out of in this field is called neurons fire together wire together so what this means is that when like with sure a little bit wearing an accelerometer the sensations coming through the tongue from the sun Romber were providing a pattern because similar info was coming from the ear canals as was coming from the accelerometer helmet but they were not mapped so as they brain began to have a pattern if you always to know how to wire them and how to read them a map was created recreated we might say from the ear canals to liable for tax and and soon as I shared I don't remember the number of weeks or months that this took but I know it was a number of weeks or months I'm sure I had to wear the helmet and then she would go home and come back and so forth it took time but eventually a map was born from your pen now input to her brain. And the way that worked was near on fire together meaning they have stimulation they wired together and so that's why when 2 digits are Web They're tats and they've done this in animals where they artificially sewed digits together and and looked at the maps on the brain and then removed this to this ditches and separated them and see that they can indeed control the number of digits being found because those 2 digits. Tightly connected there is no difference in their on firing firing one digit is causes the same kind of action in the other them and that's the reason for this. We also have learned that an experience writ. On the brain to the vellum more robustly and to have a greater. Plasticity for our advantage be. It takes less time to remap. It last to like an arc. If that would destroy the brain tissue Ideally what we want is we want to be able to remap that is basically is possible I want to. Come back to the cinema. Mapping after a stroke so here's another it's. All right can you hear me yes we're going to you're going to think you are I let me see is my spirit I'm not sure what have let me stay on my screen just reshare just are we able to see my screen again yes we are thank you my apologies it could have been on my own I'm not sure where because I am having to use a wife I'm. So there we can this is I want to say is weakness is can be overcome with proper strafing exercise what we 1st started off was learning that talking about physical weakness talking about like. A stroke that left weakness in a limb. And it was realized that with adequate strengthening exercises that would basically. You have to make that limb that's weak you have to use it and then I say well I guess I'll never be able to use this again and and put it in a sling it will not remain out but if you tax that limb if you if you. Will to use it if you if you try to to do things with it like with Pedro and his son George and I'm doing crawling exercises what's happening with you now understand is that you're moving those limbs that last action the movement stimulates the brain to say hey there's input here I need to map it to the cortex and and that's gotten even more sophisticated now to where we are learning how to correct other weaknesses. Dr Joyce tells it is book the brain it changes up some amazing stories about such children with learning disabilities children with autistic spectrum unama that with the proper kind of sequential strength building exercises many of these They've now been able to computerize there's a program called Fast forward that is scientifically shown to be able to improve learning disability reading dyslexia and Sentra and it's while has become my talk today it is something well worth looking in the literature about our care to such. People adults or children should check this out because what we're not where I do want to talk about is I want to talk about post stroke because we're almost every one of us knows someone even a relative who is suffering from a stroke and typically what. Is done is the. Subject or the patient of the victim however we want to look at it a person that had the stroke receives intensive therapy and maybe on neutral their feet for a while and and they recover some function and then and then one will approach is to say Ok after 6 or 8 weeks maybe it's fortunate 10 or 12 weeks of intensive therapy will say well that's about it that's a lot it's all the function you're going to get and so they'll teach you how to use devices to to allow you some people need a wheelchair some people need your birds that they can reach with the Septra but we now know that that isn't the optimal approach in fact Dr Tubb is a as a center in Texas that is. Becoming much. More right now and for the recovery that he has people who have stroke is and been paralyzed for more than 20 years can go to his restraint therapy program and recover some completely all improve in some regain complete function of limbs that they were paralyzed for 20 years and what he does is it's all restraint they're free not because the restraints they we claim he actually restrains good limb and and pass' forces the patient to try to use. The paralyzed limb and that's the thing that that's so important there on that wire together wired together and we've got to use that lamb and even if we move it with our good hand we need to move it. And it will over time be stimulating their wiring process and so that that limb as long as the muscle function and the neurons in the limbs are good Emmett been damaged that limb can recover completely I mean. And so it's never too late to improve and strengthen the brain and of course I make errors never never say never the point is as I said after even more than 20 years living with paralysis people are having recovery and that's because of plasticity and the fact that that neural plasticity is there is long as there is functioning brain cortex and and a lamb or an organ with. With neurons so what are some of the principles that we know for making rewiring of our brain more effective more robust one of the things that we've just learned is that rewiring requires focused attention in other ways if I want to rewire my vestibular functional I'm sure all they found that surely needed to wear that helmet or and at least an hour. And focus on. In other words it takes it takes attention not. You know. Where not to fire attention and focus on the thing that we're trying to do are like get Haftar is true you have to the restraint sessions even be an hour long for maximum. Pity remapping So anyway 6 to 9 minutes most days of the week is what. The minimum. Required for really robust pre-wiring. Another thing is and we're talking here about improving general plasticity of our brain to make that. Global rewiring functions stronger arse as strong as it can be is learning so rewiring requires doing new things so we want if I want to strengthen or are exercising. The rewiring function of my brain I want to take on learning something new not just practice what I've already done because it's true practicing what we've already done it doesn't really line the brain map but it does not really why or anything and so what we want to do is to come learning a new language. You know I don't know some people say we are all be learning Chinese maybe a new game. And remember when I 1st came across the. City. I thought that was fun and I've enjoyed it actually more than word puzzles or take on a new career in this day and time maybe that's even more proud to go any of us are finding that we've lost our jobs. For the right reasons Kovan $1000.00 might be one of them but the point is we for maximum strengthening of the rewiring function that we have in 8 months and we have want to strengthen it we want to take new things learn something to learn a new hobby in a new language. Another interesting thing that the research is discovered is the importance of sleep. Most of us are aware perhaps not that sleep is so important for consolidating memory and learning but it also. Is important for the rewiring function that's taking place in the brain and I guess we could say that rewiring is a form or a type of learning so it makes sense that we need to do this so during sleep one of the important things that happens is information is moved from they have a temple area of the brain to the cortex where it is a more permanent. And more dense story form and it frees up they have a conscious. Portion of the brain or the new day a new day of learning. Another thing is nutrition. We need to have optimal nutrition actually if we want to have the most robust rewiring function in our brain so we're talking here both food. For nutrition as well as positive thinking thinking is also a type of food for the brain we need to learn to not have negative self talk all of us most all of us. Certainly I grew up this way I know most of my friends professional colleagues would sit around them and talk with have most of us some fortunately got quite a bit of negative. Talk and we were growing up and we have a tendency to be hard on ourselves in fact I was having that experience of running late today and realizing I had missed the time because of being in Central time zone instead of my usual time zone and up and I was so tempted to be raised by stout but that doesn't help life my performance at all and so over time I've learned that you can change your self on my friends and if you don't know that you need to know this because it can make a dramatic difference you can say he is up no I am not going to Intel is that so negative stuff I am going to have to be myself with positive thoughts I can do this and I know how to do this and I'll do a good job at it so that's part of the food that they've discovered is that self talk has a lot to do with the functionality in the fish and sea of our brain and it's requiring. Here's one is very interesting clear Concha another words overcome by here is a sense of guilt or something that we. Feel we should have done we maybe a 0 sum won something and I'm on our promise that they very whatever it might be or maybe I was a Christian I feel that I have sinned against my religion my beliefs this create. Any noise if you want to think of it that way it's sort of like distraction to. Function and we need to get things right if I've done something wrong I need to apologize to my spouse about I need to make that apology right fix it to the stand I can and move on and there's this been evident from the research showing that. This is a part of having the most robust rewiring function to be hopeful and have a hopeful guilt free mind. And then of course optimal circulation oxygenation of the blood supply in the brain so. You know we're talking here about of course the cardiovascular system because that's the system them bring to the blood and then the pulmonary is the oxygenation so cardiopulmonary actually sides we need to be. Have good fit this what I'm saying you have to be a lot of this and that's really what we need to have. Better fitness than the average American is getting these days too much sitting to my. Not inadequate in their room but they're confined. And. That concludes the presentation. This media was brought to you by audio from a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon and. Audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse for you would like to listen to more sermon leave visit w.w.w. dot audio VORs dot org.


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