Celebrate Your Noggin at The Brain Health Fair on April 15: Q&A with Neurologist Dr. Jon Stoessl


On Friday, April 15, Vancouver will play host to the American Academy of Neurology’s 2016 Brain Health Fair, a free one-day event for anyone interested in brain science and health. Attendees can talk to top neurologists; walk through an inflatable, interactive brain; and even hold an actual human brain – cool!

We caught up with Vancouver resident brainiac and Brain Health Fair Emcee Dr. Jon Stoessl to get the lowdown on brain health and how you can ensure your noggin stays sharp well into old age. This guy knows brains – and he wears many hats on his own. Co-director of the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, head of Neurology at the University of British Columbia, and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, Dr. Stoessl is also director of the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre & National Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence. Read on for Inside Vancouver’s brain talk with the brain doc:

Why did you choose to study the brain?

Utter fascination. As an ungraduate student at university, I remember reading about the work of Wilder Penfield, who conducted operations for epilepsy. He would stimulate the surface of the brain and evoke vivid memories of people’s childhoods. I was spellbound, and thought, this is amazing. I need to go into this area! I didn’t end up doing epilepsy work, but that moment had a profound influence on me. The brain is a fascinating organ and there is still so much we don’t understand. It directs everything we do in our lives, every decision we make, the way we behave – it’s all driven by a 1,200-gram organ sitting in our skull. Trying to understand this seemed like an amazing opportunity to me, and I still feel that way today.

What are some lifestyle habits we can practice now to promote a healthy brain in the future?

Regular exercise is probably the single most important thing. A healthy, well-balanced diet (like the Mediterranean diet), is also associated with better outcomes in terms of brain health. Finally, get enough sleep! Over the course of a day, our brains accumulate toxic proteins that are cleared while we are sleeping. Lack of sleep can contribute to brain disease, or at least contribute to making existing brain disease worse.

What activities are best for exercising the brain?

Whether it’s reading a book, watching the news or doing a crossword, it’s important to keep the mind active. Social interaction is also beneficial, so make sure to build time in your life to engage with friends. Another activity that I personally feel is undervalued is fully enjoying things that are beautiful and fulfilling, like artwork and music. This has an impact on the brain, but at this point we don’t fully understand why and how.

April 15 has officially been dubbed Brain Health Awareness Day in Vancouver. What do you hope this day will bring to the city?

It’s great to receive official recognition of the importance of the brain and the impact of related disease in our community. Brain diseases – both neurological and psychiatric –are probably the greatest source of disability other than communicable illness. They have a huge impact on society, both monetarily and in terms of quality of life. My hope is that Brain Health Awareness day shines a light on the fact that the brain is an extraordinary gift. It’s real and tangible, but with an inherent complexity that is difficult to fathom – and it’s something we need to take great care of. I really look forward to people experiencing the sense of joy and fascination that I still feel when I study, learn about, and marvel at the brain.


The Brain Health Fair takes place from 10am-4pm on April 15th at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Read on to find out more about this amazing public event and how you can win tickets to Vancouver’s top attractions by attending the Fair.

Tagged: , , , , ,

Comments are closed for this post

One Response to Celebrate Your Noggin at The Brain Health Fair on April 15: Q&A with Neurologist Dr. Jon Stoessl

  1. Pingback: Celebrate Your Noggin at The Brain Health Fair on April 15: Q&A with Neurologist Dr. Jon Stoessl – Gunboat Bay Lodge