After providing all the funding for The Brain from Top to Bottom for over 10 years, the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction informed us that because of budget cuts, they were going to be forced to stop sponsoring us as of March 31st, 2013.

We have approached a number of organizations, all of which have recognized the value of our work. But we have not managed to find the funding we need. We must therefore ask our readers for donations so that we can continue updating and adding new content to The Brain from Top to Bottom web site and blog.

Please, rest assured that we are doing our utmost to continue our mission of providing the general public with the best possible information about the brain and neuroscience in the original spirit of the Internet: the desire to share information free of charge and with no adverstising.

Whether your support is moral, financial, or both, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Bruno Dubuc, Patrick Robert, Denis Paquet, and Al Daigen

Wednesday, 13 May 2015
Preserving Our Bodies and Minds from the Ills of Civilization

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For several hundreds of thousands of years, human beings lived and evolved in small groups of hunter-gatherers whose environment was the natural world. It is only for the past 10,000 years or so that we have lived first in villages, and then in cities. Today, a large proportion of us live in megalopolises and work in factories or offices where we have little contact with nature. And what is worse, our contacts with one another are becoming more and more virtual, and our emotional bonds weaker and weaker.

Thus, over what is a very short timespan from an evolutionary standpoint, the human body and the human brain, shaped by a natural environment very different from our own, have had to adapt to a very radical change in environment. And, it would seem, the further our urban way of life departs from the ways of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the more our physical and mental health suffers.

That is the argument made by John Ratey, co-author of the book Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization, in an interview by Ginger Campbell in the last episode of his podcast Books and Ideas. In this interview, Ratey presents some of the major ideas developed in his book. He starts by arguing that we are first and foremost a machine for moving, and not just for thinking. Next he decries the evils of our industrialized diet, which is far too rich in fats and sugars, and the devaluation of sleep in a world that is too stressed out and obsessed with productivity. He also discusses the importance of rich social relationships and even of practices such as meditation, which let us get way from the pressures of all sorts to which our supposedly civilized world subjects us.

These ideas are closely related to the known factors for preventing or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease or simply the natural decline in our cognitive faculties that comes with age. In short, this would be a great podcast to listen to before your upcoming summer vacation, when you can get away into nature, break your routine, and get a start on adopting a healthier lifestyle.

i_lien Go Wild with Dr. John Ratey (podcast)

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