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Training Your Brain

It's never too late to activate the dormant parts of our brains, Dr. Sanjay Gupta advised an audience Wednesday night in the Knight Theater uptown.

Speaking at a Learning Society of Queens event, Gupta drew on personal history, comic family anecdotes, and stories from his travels around the world as a journalist to convey his message to an audience of students, community members, and friends of Queens.

The CNN Chief Medical Correspondent began with the admission "it's a little scary for me to talk to real, live people," but his audience couldn't tell. 

The speaker seemed "really approachable and humble," said Hayworth College communication major Jennifer Reid of Charlotte. 

Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon, described his choice to meld medicine and media as "an awkward dance at times."  Yet, he said he'd enjoyed learning a new skill set. 

Too many doctors, he said, are hyper-specialized, whereas he encourages people in all walks of life to engage in multiple activities at any stage of their lives.

"We are living in silos," he said.  "Our views as a society have become more narrow."

Drawing on his own formative experiences, such as learning from his parents' immigrant embrace of adventure or deciding to be a doctor after encountering good ones while caring for a sick grandparent, Gupta shared his realization he was better off being able to "toggle back and forth" between sides of the brain. 

"The brain is not simply a transmitter of information," he said. "It is also an interpreter of the world."

He warned against "disuse atrophy" where parts of the brain stop functioning when not put to good use, and pointed out, "I love each of my professions (together) more than I could love each of them apart."

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