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East County Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020 3 months ago

University of Florida joins brain health study in Lakewood Ranch

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University's Florida Survey Research Center will help collect, analyze data for Brain Health Initiative.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

The Florida Survey Research Center at the University of Florida has joined the Brain Health Initiative, a Lakewood Ranch-based collaborative research initiative, in its quest to boost brain health in the decades to come.

The Brain Health Initiative began mailing out its pilot survey, which will lay the groundwork for a longitudinal study of brain health, on Aug. 13.

Brain Health Initiative Executive Director Stephanie Peabody, a neuropsychologist, said the partnership with UF is significant as her nonprofit works with academic institutions, clinicians and other professionals to improve brain health outcomes in the region and eventually the world.

“This is the first of many collaborations we’re going to have,” Peabody said. “Collaboration is the DNA to the Brain Health Initiative. It’s a big deal to get to that point.”

Participants of the pilot study are being selected at random, and Lakewood Ranch residents are encouraged to participate in the study if they are selected. The Florida Survey Research Center will be responsible for mailing out those invitations to participate and gathering initial information. It also will hold community roundtable discussions and other research initiatives that need to be anonymous to researchers.

Peabody said researchers will take that initial analysis, develop a base line and determine what questions need to be asked for a long-term study of what affects the brain’s health and can help fight brain illnesses, such as dementia. A preliminary analysis of pilot data should be complete by February 2021.

The Brain Health Initiative already has begun educational efforts.

On Aug. 6, it launched its first “Brain Health Hacks” segment on Facebook Live. The sessions will be aired on Lakewood Ranch’s Facebook page at 3 p.m. every Thursday to educate the public about brain health and actions they can take to improve it. The first video featured Dr. Uma Naidoo, a member of the Brain Health Initiative faculty and a leading source of how nutrition affects brain health. Naidoo just released a new book, “This is Your Brain On Food.”

Peabody said topics for Brain Health Hacks will vary, but the first month likely will focus on nutrition.

The Brain Health Initiative is a collaboration between the Academy for Brain Health and Performance and Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital.

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