From the desk of the Director...

Author: Kim Patton

How’s your brain health?  Have you ever really thought about that?  Do you know what’s really involved with having a healthy brain? Sure we read books, magazines, etc., but what else should we be doing to keep our brains cognitively fit? 


These were questions posed to the staff at the annual Mendoza College of Business staff retreat a couple of weeks ago.  Each year, Dean Woo and a committee of staff members develop a lifelong learning program.  This year, members from Memorial Hospital’s BrainWorks staff taught us some great ways to keep our brains operating at best.  The theory of cognitive reserve shows that a higher number of years of education when combined with exposure to new and stimulating experiences may help to delay the start of diseases like Alzheimer’s and related dementias. 


According to the BrainWorks professionals, a healthy brain lifestyle has three major areas: physical health, vitality and brain fitness.  Now, we all know we need to be physically fit, but did you realize that your brain requires 25% of the blood that is pumped to your heart?  So the healthier your heart, the healthier your brain.  And of course, eating right, getting enough sleep and reducing bad stress helps. 


The second area is vitality, on how we live our lives.  This falls in line with the mission of the University of Notre Dame of having a sense of purpose and passion in our lives.  It’s important to maintain meaningful relationships, such as with your fellow alumni, family, community, and even through your faith.  Vitality helps us find ways to stay centered, connected and filled with energy to explore and experience life. 


The last area of brain fitness (also called cognitive fitness) is how your mind works in four key areas: attention, perception, thinking and language.  Here is where we engage in learning challenging, new activities.  The more novel and complex, the better they are for your brain.   


It’s important for us to be healthy physically, stay cognitively fit, and discover our passion and purpose for life; not only for ourselves, but for our families, friends and employers.  In our continued efforts to provide service to our alumni, I will share with you each month new and interesting things I have learned to keep my brain healthy.  I would also like to hear from you on ways you are exercising your brain. 

 Here’s to your brain health! 


For more information on Memorial Hospital’s BrainWorks visit: