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The Dutch know ‘shockingly little’ about their own brain

The Dutch hardly know anything about their own brain, research shows. For example, 93 percent do not know that you can prevent dementia in most cases. A school campaign about the brain is coming.

Brain expert Charlotte Labee commissioned an independent study into the knowledge of our brains, in which a diverse group of a thousand Dutch people was questioned about the knowledge of the brain by the panelzicht research agency. It shows that the Dutch know little about the functioning of their own brains. “The results are shocking,” said Labee, who wrote a book entitled Brain Balance.

Today, during Blue Monday, Charlotte Labee presented to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science the results of the independent research on the knowledge that the Dutch have about the functioning of our brain.

Independent brain research

“The research shows, among other things, that only 7 percent of the Dutch know that you can prevent dementia in most cases,” says Labee. “Also, only 8 percent of the Dutch population knows that 85 percent of the products in the supermarket are not good for our brains and only 55 percent of the Dutch are aware that every day exercise is good for you, regardless of your age”, she continues.

Not knowing what sleep deprivation does

Even more striking results from the research are that only 18 percent of the Dutch know that little sleep has a major influence on the pleasure of working. A bad night’s sleep reduces the pleasure of working by 50 to 60 percent. The research also shows that people are not well aware of the percentage of Dutch people who have burnout complaints. The actual figure of people with burnout complaints is between 46 and 55 percent. 91 percent of the participants were unable to answer this correctly. Finally, the research shows that women, the highly educated (HBO +) and people between 25-39 years on average score slightly better with their knowledge of the brain than men, the lower educated and other age groups.

Blue Monday and the brain

“Blue Monday and mental problems arise en masse because the Dutch have no knowledge about their own brains,” says Labree. Almost 20 percent of Dutch adults will have to deal with depression at some point in their life. That’s 1 in 5 people. In addition, 52 percent of Dutch people have to deal with burnout complaints, more than 62 percent of the Dutch sleep poorly and 85 percent of millennials now feel depressed. Current circumstances are not making things any better. “There is work to be done,” says Labee. “And that has to start in education.”

Campaign in schools

The research therefore immediately forms the kick-off of a large-scale school campaign. “Because,” says Labee, “knowledge of the brain should become a regular part of the curriculum in schools.” At school, children learn academic skills such as math, reading and writing. But they don’t learn anything about what has the greatest impact on their lives – the brain. And that has to change, according to Labee – especially now that more and more people are struggling with an imbalance in their brain.

A picture of Charlotte Labee with the brain
Charlotte Labee with the brain.

Guest lessons about the brain

That is why Labee has started, among other things, with guest lectures at schools and has established a foundation to make brain knowledge accessible to everyone, starting at a young age in education. “Children benefit for life from knowledge about their own brains,” says Labee. “Through guest lectures at schools, I try to provide concrete brain tips and practically applicable knowledge.” This year, Charlotte and her team will start at various schools around the country, when they reopen. Meanwhile, Labee and her team are busy working on a curriculum that will allow schools to start teaching themselves about raising awareness of our brains. The goal is to have this ready by early 2022.

Petition for more knowledge

In response to the results of this research, Charlotte Labee also started the petition More brain knowledge for everyone, starting in education. On the first day, it has now been signed more than 1100 times. The purpose of the petition is to collect 40,000 signatures and present them in March to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Labee: “This is because you will not find happiness if you do not take good care of your brain.”

Also read: Blue Monday can just be a great day with these tips

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The Dutch know ‘shockingly little’ about their own brain

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