Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Why the state of your brain matters

    Published March 1, 2018

    What are the consequences when it’s underdeveloped, degraded, or damaged?

    by Thayer Robins

    It’s hard to overstate the importance of your brain. Given all that it does for you, it stands to reason that when your brain struggles, you struggle. Yet, when societal or personal ills are discussed, brain health is almost never considered as a factor.

    We don’t expect someone with a broken leg to walk. Yet we routinely shame or punish those whose behavior doesn’t meet our standards — without considering that the root of their troubles may be a struggling or broken brain.

    For example, we still tell kids who struggle in school that they aren’t applying themselves or (even worse) aren’t smart enough to succeed. And we attribute behavioral and emotional problems to a combination of psychological factors, biochemistry and genetics — again, without considering the functional health of the one organ responsible for managing behavior and emotions.

    In fact, a struggling brain puts you at greater risk for just about every personal problem a human can face. Here are a few of the many conditions that neuroscience researchers have attributed (in whole or part) to issues with brain function:

    • learning disabilities
    • ADD/ADHD
    • depression, low motivation, and other mood disorders
    • chronic anxiety
    • low confidence and self-esteem
    • criminal behavior
    • chronic pain
    • dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
    • poor coordination and balance

    Does that mean exercises that enhance brain function can cure every case of these conditions? No. But these conditions are often signs of a brain in trouble. By treating them that way, addressing brain health and function in any treatment approach, the odds of a good outcome are substantially increased.

    And who knows — you may be one of the many who find that improving the health and function of your brain improves your life in surprising ways.

    A good way to start now is with things that nourish your body too : appropriate nutrition, exercise, and sleep; keeping stress low; and limiting alcohol and drugs. Future columns will discuss more about the vital role of sophisticated neural networks and how the right activities can stimulate your brain to build them.

    For more on how a struggling brain can undermine your life, check out these TEDTalk videos on youtube: “Daniel Amen — Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” and “The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans.”

    Thayer Robins is a Tower staff writer. You can reach her at

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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