Raising awareness for brain health in anticipation of World Brain Day – July 22, 2023

Every day I’m in awe of the magnificent device that is our brain:

  • At birth, a baby’s brain contains 100 billion neurons, roughly as many nerve cells as there are stars in the Milky Way. These 100 billion neurons are not yet widely connected in networks, the number of connections or synapses per neuron is estimated at 2,500 at birth.
  • During the first years of life, as the growing child experiences the surrounding world and forms attachments to parents, family members and other caregivers,  the brain forms trillions of synapses – by age three it’s about 15,0000 synapses per neuron.
  • An adult brain has more than 100 trillion synapses – this is a 1 with 14 zeroes: 100,000,000,000,000.
  • Our brain processes all information inside and outside of our body.  Thanks to our brain we can smell, taste, hear, see, have fun, learn, grow, love and build deep connections with others.
  • No two brains are alike: our brain creates meaning and puts everything in perspective for us individually so we can understand it – it’s tailor-made and unique.

On May 9th we participated in the European Brain Health Summit organized by the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) and learned about the Brain Health Mission. One Brain. One Life. One Mission. which is featured in this beautiful video. The EAN’s Brain Health Strategy responds to the high and increasing burden of neurological disorders and aims to develop a non-disease-, non-age-centred holistic and positive approach to prevent neurological disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, stroke, epilepsy, headache/migraine, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders, brain cancer) but also to preserve brain health and promote recovery after brain damage.

“Brain Health goes beyond the absence of disease to embrace all brain functions (cognitive, emotional, behavioural, creative) which are necessary to cope with life situations and for a happy, productive, and creative life. In fact there is no health without brain health.”, says Prof. Claudio Bassetti, EAN Past President and Director of the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland.

A healthy brain is a happy brain. In our brain, social and psychological pain are processed much like physical pain – and yet we are often expected “to get over it” and that “time will heal all wounds” without seeking help. Addiction, depression and anxiety are manifestations of the brain chemistry being out of balance and yet there is still stigma and shame for people affected by a mental health condition. Research shows that mental health literacy promotes early action and better life outcomes. In “The Brain Health Bootcamp” students, parents, and schools  learn about brain health: what it is, how to talk about it, and how to get help.

In anticipation of World Brain Day 2023 on July 22nd, I make it my personal mission to contribute to brain health starting by raising awareness. Please reach out at if you would like to contribute either as a neuroscientist, treating physician, employer, or as a fellow human open to share a personal story. Brain health matters, let’s make a difference together.