Change Your Brain and Change Your Life on PBS

Update: wow this guy puts out a lot of books. So a couple of years back I wrote the original article you see below, but I did want to update this piece and say a few words about Dr. Amen’s latest PBS special and book. It’s Use Your Brain to Change Your Age: Secrets to Look, Feel, and Think Younger Every Day and you can take a pretty good look over at Amazon to see other people’s reviews.

Well this is clearly my year to watch PBS. I’ve watched more PBS this year than the last 5 years. Easily. I’m gonna have to send them some money this year I can tell. And this is clearly the year for PBS to tackle mental health. I think it was only a week ago I was writing about a show they aired that focused on the variations of depression. And on June 2nd they aired Dr. Dan Amen’s Change Your Brain Change Your Life. It appears to also be one of the longest pledge drives in the history of pledge drives. I mean all of the shows I’ve been watching during the last month have been part of the drive. Well that, what you can you do? It’s public TV. (Although here’s a weird twist, on a recent 2010 “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” Dennis Rodman actually GOES to Dr. Amen’s clinic for a brain scan, I can’t seem to stop writing about that show…).

As some of you regular readers know I’m doing…OK. I’ve got a lot of positive career and future prospects that would be very hard to derail-so I’ve got that to look forward to, but I’m still haunted by being cheat on and left by a woman. I primarily can’t see HOW a person would do that to ME . I do everything I can for people. So I just ponder and ponder, and THAT is one of the strong points about this program addresses; how to change things.

And his 2011 book The Amen Solution

Dr. Amen (yeah I know what it looks like, but he pronounces it so that it sounds like “almond”) proposition is that he and his team, at the conventionally named Amen Center, have looked at thousands of brain images and interviewed a similarly large number of people, and combined with his personal years in mental health they have come to the conclusion that the brain is an important factor in how we behave. Hahahahahahah! Yeah, again, I know. I know it sounds obvious and like a LOT of time and money got wasted, but really they took a different approach. His belief is that brain structure, and chemistry can actually affect mental health and behavior AND that it can be changed. Now we’re getting somewhere! Take a look at this ugly brain and this less ugly brain.

I believe that particular image was early in the show when he was talking about a guy who had inhaled fumes. But he got into a variety of illnesses like Depression, Anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder, Impulsive Behavior, Alzheimer’s disease. And how showed how all the things you would think can affect the brains structure and behavior DO have an effect. He described how drinking, smoking, drugs, aging and actual physical trauma to the organ itself (whose consistency he compared to butter at room temperature) can all degrade brain quality. That’s ASIDE from the natural degenerative nature of the brain. Now, let’s get back to ME! He talked about 3 areas of the brain that he looks at that seem to really give him an idea about bad behavior. The prefrontal cortex, a section I didn’t quite catch the name of that sounded like “singular” and lastly the limbic system. You can actually find out when it’s going to air again here in the Chicago area and maybe you can catch the name. In fact I strongly recommend the either watching it, and buying it with a donation to PBS or if that “premium” price is too steep, I’ve got a couple of Amazon links in here.

But let me take you through some of the symptoms and his recommended solutions. In particular the ailing prefrontal description so ACCURATELY described my ex-woman it was shocking.

Prefrontal cortex issues

Low activity and low energy


Bored easy

Conflict instigators



Short attention

Solution is for them to write a list of what they want


high protein low carbs

Cingular (sp) issues

Stuck on certain behavior patters

Fault finders-see problems

Rigid, inflexible

They prefer having options


Stuck on grudes

Resolve with; exercise, high carbs low protein

Limbic system (our emotions) issues

Our ability to connect to people

Where we feel pain

Overworked people feel helpless and hopeless depress, thoughts come in that make you feel bad. These thoughts have to be consciously countered

Have a lot of pain

Not interested in things that are usually fun

Resolve with; exercise, fish oil, avoid toxic substances get more sleep,

And he recommends for everybody to exercise, protect your head, eat right; lean protein, good carbs, (non blood sugar raising) omega 3 and water, green tea, oranges red bell peppers, blueberries, spinach, broccoli, tuna, avocado-basically “rainbow colored” food. So there you go, it’s a recap but you really need the details to understand the reasoning and the accurate rendition of these solutions.