My guest for today’s podcast is Susan Masino, a professor of neuroscience at Trinity College, who stresses the link between healthy brain metabolism and nature. I don’t think there are many of us who would deny that joy that one feels by taking a walk in the woods. However, Susan explains to us how and why we need that type of experience to maintain our health and sanity. Forests are not something to be exploited for purely commercial gain. Forests, and nature preserves are a necessary component of a healthy society, and planet.
Humans have approached forests in myriad ways throughout our history. Today, many forests are threatened by human exploitation. Susan Masino is a leader in a “movement” to ensure that we fully understand the power of these ecosytems to the health of humanity.
Susan A. Masino, Ph.D. is the Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science at Trinity College and a recent Bullard Fellow in Forest Research at Harvard University. Her research focuses on links among metabolism, brain activity and behavior, and she is dedicated to educational, environmental and public policy issues affecting brain health.
The link between forests and brain health is a public policy imperative: we face increasing costs for disorders ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to addiction, and forests offer exercise, mindfulness and stress reduction. We are still discovering new species, and forests are a former and a likely future source of new medicines. Research on cardiovascular, immune and neurological systems is expanding worldwide. In people of all ages a forest can increase kindness, altruism, and generosity by provoking awe – the sense of wonder you feel in the presence of something beyond your understanding. For these and many other reasons, natural forests should be protected and accessible to all of us.