The Science of Wellbeing – Interview with Dr. Noa Albelda

May 20, 2018 | By Joy Ventures
The Science of Wellbeing – Interview with Dr. Noa Albelda

Our behavior is not only shaped by our brain, but rather more and more research is showing that how we live shapes our brain.  Dr. Noa Albelda will speak this week at a Joy Ventures meetup and share the latest scientific developments and insights on how people can take concrete steps to improve wellbeing (click here to register for the meetup).

Let’s think for a minute about the history of exercise. A couple of hundred years ago, there were no treadmills or gyms, and jogging wasn’t invented.  People were fit because they had to walk miles to school, chop wood and wash clothes in the river.  When our lives became stationary, and people started suffering from heart disease and a host of other ailments, it became clear that physical exercise was necessary for health, awareness grew, and we began to engage in physical exercise, in an intentional way.

We are now on the cusp of a similar shift, but this time its not our body that is the focus, but our brain. But the digital revolution is also bombarding us with stimuli and information. stress and anxiety are on the rise, and our wellbeing is being compromised.

“Living in the present, focusing on the ‘now’, or mindfulness, has been proven in scientific study after scientific study to have a positive impact on our wellbeing, in a number of ways,” says Dr. Noa Albelda, Head of Neuroeducation Development and Lab Manager at the Sagol Center for Brain and Mind   “If once  ‘living in the moment’ came more naturally, when people  weren’t surrounded by smartphones, TVs and screens, today mindfulness  is something we have to be aware of, seek out and invest time and effort in intentionally.”

Dr. Albelda will present at a meetup this week at Joy Ventures, on the latest developments in wellness science.  She outlines four main recent learnings and trends in neuroscience research: The first is plasticity – if once it was thought that the brain changes mainly during childhood, we now know that our behavior throughout life impacts the brain. The second learning is that not only does the brain demonstrate plasticity, our genes do as well.  Epigenetics shows that even though our DNA is set, the way our genes function can change as a result of our behavior.  This is especially true for genes involved in our stress system (which is perhaps the main ‘victim’ of the digital lifestyle).

The third main trend talks about the mind-body connection.  Of course this connection has been recognized for a long time, but it was mostly thought that the brain impacts the body.  Today we know that the body also impacts the brain – for example gut bacteria and hormones have been proven to have an influence on the brain, and wellbeing.

Lastly, recent research has shown that almost all of us are born with a propensity to do good – to have empathy for others and be generous, and that this type of behavior has a positive impact on our own wellbeing.  Research shows that we can tap into these inherent tendencies willfully and develop them.

“Not to be too dramatic, but it seems like we’ve ‘lost control’ over our minds, as a result of the digital revolution and our current lifestyle,” says Dr. Albelda.  “But research shows us that we can get control back, through using mindfulness and engaging in certain types of activities.”

Today people are living much longer, and science is giving us tools for both improving our brain health, and our wellbeing, we just have to raise awareness and provide the right tools for people to implement these learnings.  I believe Joy Ventures – by connecting academia and business, and by raising awareness to the way in which scientific developments can be put to use to advance wellbeing – is doing important work at a pivotal time for humanity.”

“We are very glad to host Dr. Albelda at our upcoming meetup this week,” says Dr. Hagit Alon, VP Scientific Affairs at Joy Ventures. “We are working in a number of ways to promote solutions that will help people improve their brain health and wellbeing. In addition to bringing entrepreneurs to be inspired at our meetups by researchers such as Dr. Albelda, Joy Ventures directly supports promising research in the field. Actually Dr. Ziv Ardi, a researcher from Dr. Albelda’s lab at the Sagol Center, received a grant from us for his work on elucidating the active components of mindfulness .”

To register for the upcoming meetup on March 22nd, click here.

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