Thinking positive and getting fit will help fight dementia, says researcher

Medical experts say smoking and high alcohol intake can lead to brain problems


Get fit, stay socially active, challenge your brain and think positive is the message from researchers at Trinity College Dublin investigating how to prevent dementia in later life.

The Hello Brain campaign, led by Dr Sabina Brennan, hopes to make scientific research into brain health and development more accessible to the general public through a new website, mobile phone app and series of short films.

Dr Brennan says the online project has “transformed” scientific jargon into “real and relevant, easy to digest information”.

She said modifying lifestyle factors early on can help protect the brain later in life.


Dr Brennan said the information was “vital” for the general public to be aware of.

"We asked people across Europe what they feared most about growing old and they told us that they feared losing their memory and their independence," she said.

Dr Brennan has created a number of tips for people all of all ages to help protect their brain development.

“Most people aren’t aware that obesity is connected with your brain,” she said.

“People need to get physically active, stay socially engaged, challenge their brains, manage stress, think young and think positive.”

Smoking and high alcohol consumption can also lead to brain problems in later life, she said.

Professor Brian Lawlor, Consultant Psychiatrist at St James’s Hospital, says even young adults in their 20s should consider taking extra steps to protect their brains from the future.

“Think of it like a pension fund. Healthy brain habits now build the brain’s cognitive reserve for later on. It’s a lodgement, an investment in your ‘brain bank’ for later in life.”

“If you take these risk factors seriously early in life, even in 20s, 30s and 40s, it may decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

The Hello Brain app is available to download from the Apple app store and Google Play, or visit the website at

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast