This is a monthly e-newsletter from the Lifebrain Horizon2020 project.
View this email in your browser


Lifebrain Newsletter February 2022

(For a better quality reading we suggest you to view this email in your web browser).

The Lifebrain e-newsletter is aimed at the general public, patient organisations, policy-makers, and researchers interested in brain and cognition.

Lifebrain newsletters are also collected and available on the project website.

Please forward the newsletter to colleagues, friends or family members, you think might be interested in reading it.

If you no longer want to be a member of this mailing list, you can unsubscribe from this list and your information will be deleted. 

What motivates people to look after their brain health?

The prospect of experiencing symptoms of cognitive or mental decline was a key motivation to undertake lifestyle changes, even more so than having been diagnosed with a brain disorder – an important finding from the second public report of the Global Brain Health Survey.

7 of 10 respondents said they would be motivated to change lifestyle if they noticed problems with their brain health, such as if their memory worsened.
“The challenge with this is that it might be a bit late to start making lifestyle changes once symptoms arise. Taking care of the brain is a lifelong endeavor, the earlier people adopt healthy behaviours for their brain health, the better”, says lead author of the survey, Dr. Isabelle Budin-Ljøsne, from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Only a third of respondents were motivated to make lifestyle changes if confronted with a brain disease diagnosis.
“This suggests that people might perceive lifestyle factors as irrelevant after a diagnosis is set and several signs of the disease are obvious”, says Budin-Ljøsne.
Brain health is a relatively new concept encompassing mental and cognitive health. Good brain health involves both mental wellbeing and normal brain function, in the absence of brain disease.
The current public report is based on answers from more than 27 000 people in Europe and elsewhere, and provides insight in factors motivating people to look after their brain. 


People want to know if lifestyle changes work

Half of the respondents would be motivated by knowing that lifestyle changes are beneficial for brain health. Furthermore, half of the respondents would not be motivated to change if they were unsure of the beneficial effect, or if they lack information about what to do.
"People need assurance that changing their lifestyle is worth the effort” says Budin-Ljøsne.
One UK respondent put it like this: “If there was some good information on the size of the impact a change would make. We all know healthy lifestyle etc. improves health, but mostly what stops us doing more is not knowing how much of an impact it has. It might be years of additional exercise for possibility of a small gain”.

Previous studies suggest that certain lifestyles such as being physically active, eating a healthy diet, getting sufficient sleep, reducing and/or limiting negative stress, and refraining from substance use such as alcohol, smoking or illicit drugs, are associated with lower risk of developing brain disease.

Harder to convince older people to change

Motivations to make lifestyle changes varied across sociodemographic and individual characteristics. Our results suggest that it may be harder to convince old people (> 60 years of age) to change habits than young people (< 40 years of age). Young respondents were more willing to change lifestyle than old respondents  but would probably be prevented by lack of time and motivation, or if the changes were expensive.
We also found that engagement in brain-friendly behavior and the impact of information may depend on individual cognitive and mental well-being. Respondents who self-rated their mental or cognitive health as poor engaged less in healthy activities and may need more support and encouragement to make lifestyle changes than people who self-rated their mental or cognitive health as average or above.

Source: Stocksy

People are willing to do more for their brain health

About half of respondents already frequently engaged in favourable behaviour for their brain health such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercising.
More than three in four respondents were willing to exercise more, relax more, eat more healthily, and engage in more brain stimulating activities. Respondents were less willing to avoid alcohol consumption.
“Overall, these results are positive, as they show that people are highly interested in improving their brain health. Respondents were open to the idea that modifying brain health is possible and willing to act for their brain health, which is an important first step. However, our respondents, who primarily were women with high education, were probably more interested in brain health than average people. It would be interesting to investigate how other groups think about brain health,” says Budin-Ljøsne.

Source: Stocksy

The Global Brain Health Survey

The report is based on answers from 27,590 subjects from 81 countries who responded on questions via Internet in the Global Brain Health Survey, and is based on the following themes:

  • Respondents were asked how often they engaged in various activities purposefully for their brain health
  • Presented with the possibility that their doctor told them they could reduce the risk of developing brain disease by changing lifestyle, the respondents indicated how likely they were to do various activities (e.g. exercise more, eat more healthy. etc.)
  • Respondents were asked to select the three most important reasons that would motivate/prevent them to change lifestyle to improve their brain health
The online survey was available in 14 languages, including French, Spanish, Dutch, Hungarian, German, Italian, and Scandinavian languages, between June 2019 - August 2020. 

Next steps

The results confirm previous findings on the need for public information on brain health and early lifestyle interventions. Personalized interventions to accommodate individual differences in motivations can be essential to improve brain health.

Further reading

Source of newsletter

This newsletter was written by Isabelle Budin Ljøsne, Rebecca Bruu Carver, Christian A. Drevon and Barbara B. Friedman, authors of the public report on "What motivates people to look after their brain health?".

Your comments are always valuable to us, so do not hesitate to contact us.

Center for Lifespan Changes in Brain and Cognition at the University of Oslo
Kristine B. Walhovd project coordinator
Barbara B. Friedman administrative coordinator
Follow us on facebook, twitter and on our website!


This project has received funding from the European Union ’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 732592.
Copyright © 2022 Lifebrain Horizon2020 project, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp