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  • Good afternoon.

  • I am so excited to be here.

  • I actually film all my shows here

  • at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

  • So, innovation is a brain function.

  • It is dependent on the physical health of your brain.

  • So, did you know obviously, your brain is involved in everything you do:

  • how you think, how you feel, how you act, how you get along with other people.

  • At the Amen Clinics, we have looked

  • at over 63,000 brain scans over the last 20 years,

  • and it is very clear to me that your brain is the organ of judgment,

  • personality, character, and innovation.

  • And when you brain works right,

  • you work right.

  • And when your brain is troubled,

  • you are much more likely to have trouble in your life.

  • So what you see on the screen are two brain SPECT scans.

  • SPECT is the study that we do in our clinic.

  • It is a very sophisticated brain imaging study

  • that looks at blood flow and activity patterns.

  • It looks at how your brain works.

  • And it basically shows us three things: areas of the brain that work well,

  • areas of the brain that are low in activity,

  • and areas of the brain that are high in activity.

  • So good activity, too little, or too much.

  • And then our job becomes balancing it.

  • The image on your left is a healthy scan.

  • It shows full, even, symmetrical activity.

  • The color doesn't mean anything, it's the shape.

  • The image on the right is an alcoholic scan.

  • Alcohol is directly toxic to brain function.

  • I know many of you believe

  • you have to have your two glasses of red wine a day

  • because it's good for your heart.

  • It is not good for your brain.

  • With a healthy brain, it's very clear to me

  • you're happier, healthier, wealthier, you're wiser,

  • you're more creative, more innovative.

  • When your brain is not healthy, for whatever reason:

  • you had a brain injury, you have a terrible diet,

  • you live in a toxic environment,

  • you're sadder, sicker, poorer, not as smart.

  • You're more rigid, and you're inflexible,

  • which is the opposite of innovation.

  • I've said this tens of thousands of times, and it always blows me away.

  • Your brain is the most complicated organ in the universe.

  • There is nothing as complex as the human brain, nothing.

  • It is estimated we have 100 billion nerve cells.

  • And each nerve cell is connected to other nerve cells,

  • not in a one-to-one connection,

  • but up to 10,000 individual connections between cells.

  • Which means you have more connection in your skull

  • than there are stars in the Universe.

  • Information in your brain travels at about 268 miles an hour.

  • Unless, of course, you're drunk.

  • And even though your brain is only 2% of your body's weight,

  • it uses 20 to 30% of the calories that you consume.

  • So, of the breakfast you had this morning, or the lunch you had this afternoon,

  • almost a third of it goes to feed 2% of your body's weight.

  • Your brain is the most expensive real estate in your body.

  • On average, you lose 85,000 brain cells a day.

  • And what we've discovered at the Amen Clinics

  • is you can accelerate the aging process with your behavior,

  • or you can decelerate it.

  • How exciting is that?

  • The health of your brain also decelerates innovation,

  • or it accelerates it.

  • So what are the things that hurt your brain?

  • Brain injury should be obvious.

  • I just finished the largest NFL study,

  • brain imaging study on retired NFL players.

  • The NFL is no longer lying about brain injuries.

  • They're taking it much more seriously.

  • Do not let your kids play tackle football, or hit soccer balls with their head.

  • Come on, the brain is very soft, about the consistency of soft butter.

  • And your skull is really hard,

  • and it has many sharp, bony ridges.

  • You have to protect it.

  • Drugs and alcohol should be obvious,

  • but what our country has no clue yet, but is learning,

  • is that obesity damages brain function.

  • There are now ten studies.

  • We just published a study in the Nature journal, "Obesity",

  • that says as your weight goes up,

  • the actual physical size and function of your brain goes down.

  • Whoa.

  • That should scare the fat off anyone.

  • (Laughter)

  • I read that study, the first one that came out about three years ago,

  • I dropped 25 pounds.

  • I was serious, when it comes to the brain, size matters.

  • You do not want a smaller brain.

  • (Laughter)

  • Smoking constricts blood flow to the brain.

  • Like it prematurely ages your skin, it prematurely ages the brain.

  • High blood pressure, as your blood pressure goes up,

  • the blood flow to your brain goes down.

  • So you need to know your blood pressure on a regular basis,

  • and if it's high, take it seriously.

  • Diabetes, standard American diet, environmental toxins,

  • lack of exercise, and something I call ANTs - Automatic Negative Thoughts,

  • the thoughts that come into your mind automatically and ruin your day.

  • They are the seeds of anxiety disorders and depression.

  • So if this is true, it is,

  • what are the things you can do to help your brain?

  • Positive social connections.

  • Unbelievable, the people you spend time with

  • determine your longevity.

  • Isn't that interesting?

  • If you spend time with people

  • who have healthy health habits,

  • you pick those up, because people are contagious.

  • If you spend time with people who do not have healthy habits,

  • you die early.

  • Become very serious about who you spend your time with.

  • New learning, so TED is perfect for this.

  • Whenever you learn something new, your brain makes a new connection.

  • When you stop learning, your brain actually starts to disconnect itself.

  • Diet is absolutely essential.

  • You are consuming the nutrients that are helping you,

  • or the toxins that hurt you.

  • The SAD diet, the Standard American Diet,

  • is not only associated with heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

  • It's associated with depression,

  • attentional problems, and Alzheimer's disease.

  • Food is medicine, or it is poison.

  • Sleep, again it's absolutely essential.

  • Because you know, in 1900, we got, on average, nine hours of sleep at night.

  • In 2011, we get six hours of sleep at night.

  • Less than seven hours of sleep, you get lower overall blood flow to the brain.

  • Your brain cannot go through that kind of transition

  • in such a short period of human history,

  • without there being very serious consequences.

  • And as sleep goes down, weight goes up,

  • because your cravings get out of control.

  • So, being physically healthy is important.

  • But having anxiety is important.

  • Did you know there are great studies with longevity,

  • and the children who were

  • the "Don't worry, be happy" children die early,

  • because they didn't take their health seriously enough.

  • I hope I give you a little anxiety.

  • You know, I'm a psychiatrist by training.

  • I was teaching people to chill out, and what I came to realize,

  • is I need to motivate them a little bit and just increase their fear,

  • so that the double cheeseburgers are not calling their name.

  • Meditation fooled us.

  • What we thought, you know, meditate, zone out, brain calms down.

  • Absolutely not like that at all.

  • When people meditate, it activates the front part of their brain

  • which is the most human, thoughtful part of their brain.

  • You want the best antidepressant?

  • It's not Prozac, it's gratitude.

  • You write down three things you're grateful for every day.

  • Within three weeks you'll notice

  • a significant difference in your level of happiness.

  • ANT-killing means don't believe every stupid thought you have.

  • You go, "OK, Dr. Amen, you've been a psychiatrist for 30 years.

  • Single most important thing people can do?"

  • Don't believe every stupid thought you have.

  • Have this little question, in your head, "Is it true?"

  • So when you feel like your husband doesn't love you, is it true?

  • Because when you question your thoughts, you live in a more rational world.

  • Here are examples of three 60-year-old brains.

  • One with Alzheimer's disease.

  • One that is overweight, that has sleep apnea,

  • which is a disaster for brain function.

  • And a healthy scan.

  • Which brain do you want?

  • I know which brain I want.

  • Here are five ways brain imaging will change everything you do.

  • The first thing, it will give you brain envy.

  • (Laughter)

  • So, I started doing scans in 1991.

  • I was 37 years old, and I scanned my own brain.

  • And I looked at it, compared to a lot of other scans,

  • and I went, "Yuck, too many bumps, bumpy places."

  • And I've actually never drank.

  • I got drunk when I was 16, I had a hangover for five days.

  • I went, "This is not for me."

  • Never smoked, never did drugs.

  • I'm like, "Why does my brain look so bad?"

  • But at the time, I had a lot of bad brain habits.

  • I only slept four or five hours a night

  • because I was driven.

  • I was drinking diet soda like she was my best friend.

  • And I carried more weight,

  • was under chronic stress, and it showed.

  • And so, since I saw my scan, and developed brain envy,

  • at 52, I scanned myself again, and it's much younger.

  • My brain looks better.

  • And you know, you can do that.

  • That's the cool thing about the brain.

  • You've probably heard about brain plasticity.

  • But if you make good decisions today,

  • we found this out with our NFL study,

  • that you can start to improve your brain within two months.

  • It's like, how exciting is that?

  • And, with a better brain, everything in your life is better;

  • from your body to your money, to your relationships,

  • to the level of innovation.

  • The second thing is, since brain imaging,

  • I would never let my kids play tackle football.

  • When does the brain finish developing?

  • Twenty-five.

  • Your brain, and in males,

  • some people think it's more like 28.

  • So the idea that you are an adult at 18,

  • from the neuroscience perspective, is just flat-out stupid.

  • And the insurance companies know that.

  • When do your insurance rates change and stabilize? Twenty-five.

  • Why? Because you're making better decisions.

  • And the decisions you make are a brain function.

  • So do not let your kids put their brains at risk.

  • You'll take environmental toxins so much more seriously.

  • This is one of the firefighters that we scanned recently.

  • And you see this overall low activity.

  • Those holes? He doesn't have physical holes in his brain.

  • What he has is serious overall low activity.

  • You'll take your weight a whole bunch more seriously.

  • And you'll think about the early detection and prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

  • Alzheimer's disease is expected to triple in the next 25 years

  • We cannot afford this.

  • And how you prevent Alzheimer's disease?

  • Is you prevent all the illnesses that are associated with it,

  • like heart disease, cancer, diabetes,

  • depression, and high blood pressure.

  • So, how to create a brain-smart world to accelerate individuals?

  • This is my goal.

  • And we see individuals and families at the Amen Clinics,

  • but we're very interested in schools,

  • in churches, businesses, and communities.

  • And, I love this.

  • Andy came to see me about four months ago.

  • First time, about ten years ago,

  • when he was 53, and his brain just looked awful.

  • And I got him to buy into the program of brain health.

  • And, this is what his brain looked like ten years later.

  • Isn't that cool?

  • And I want to talk about getting systems involved.

  • So, I was working on my new show.

  • And while I was working on my show, I went to church.

  • And my wife said she'd drop Chloe off,

  • our seven-year-old, at children's church, and I would go save us seats.

  • And, it's at a very large church nearby, and it's not Saddleback.

  • And as I walked into church,

  • I passed 500 donuts for sale.

  • And I was just irritated.

  • And then I walked by bacon and sausage cooking on the grill.

  • And I'm furious.

  • And right before I go into the sanctuary,

  • they're cooking hundreds of hot dogs