Jul 26, 2023, 4:00 am UTC
Meet wmnHealth: Lindsay Borthwick, Content Strategy Lead
Is there a brain health topic that’s close to your heart?
As a graduate student, I studied a form of chronic pain caused by damage to the nervous system as well as the factors that limit nerve cells from regenerating. I guess you could say I was drawn toward brain research that might eventually help people heal from injury or neurodegenerative diseases rather than toward loftier questions like understanding how the mind works or the nature of consciousness!
That desire to make an impact on people’s lives still motivates me today. But instead of making discoveries, I tell stories of discovery. That satisfies my compulsion to learn and understand the natural world, plus it constantly exposes me to fascinating new ideas, especially in neuroscience and the behavioral sciences.
What advice about brain health have you taken to heart?
The benefits of sleep! I’ve never functioned well without a good night’s sleep. But now, the more I learn about what happens in the brain while we sleep, the more deliberate I am about making it a priority. The brain is actually a whirl of activity during sleep. Fluid is washing cellular debris. New memories are stabilizing. And nerve cells and their connections are being readied to help us survive and thrive another day. Most incredibly, brain researchers have actually watched some of these processes happen in real-time.
The remarkable progress being made in neuroscience, which was barely a discipline 50 years ago, gives me tremendous hope. But there’s also so much we still don’t understand about the brain and mind in health and in disease.
What’s your favorite way to unwind?
I like to get outside. I live in Toronto, and in the summer, I can mountain bike on trails threading through the river valleys or paddleboard on Lake Ontario. In the winter, there’s always a skating rink to be found nearby, or I head north to cross-country ski. Sometimes, just looking out the window is enough. I have a few hens, plus a daily parade of squirrels and raccoons through the yard. Toronto's raccoons are infamous. We affectionately call them "trash pandas."