/ Modified mar 12, 2018 8:37 a.m.

UA Highlighting Brain Awareness Week With Free Talk

Public lecture looks at emotional stress, chronic pain and autism.

via Pixabay

The human brain is complex. It's the essence of who we are. It moderates what we understand in our world and how we react and respond to information. It's also in charge of our internal organs.

March 12 marks the start of international Brain Awareness Week, and the University of Arizona College of Medicine is showcasing some of its research into this mysterious organ.

UA neuroscientist and physiology professor Katalin Gothard said, unlike our other organs, researchers understand only a small fraction of how the brain works.

"Our brain is what we are, and we are our brain. Yet we have very little understanding of how our brain functions, even in normal situations," she said.

Other organs and body parts can regenerate, or heal themselves, or be replaced, such as hips and knees. The brain has only limited ability for repair.

"The brain in some ways is like a muscle, you exercise it and it becomes stronger. I think we need to use our brain and challenge ourselves," Gothard said.

She said other ways to keep our brain healthy is to be socially and emotionally connected to others. We also need to engage in physical exercise, eat a healthy diet and rest the brain through sleep and meditation.

Joining Gothard at a free TED Talk-style event, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at DuVal Auditorium at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson, 1501 N. Campbell Ave. will be Todd Vanderah, head of the UA's pharmacology department, discussing chronic pain and opioids, and pediatrician Sydney Rice, talking about autism.

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