The Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Amrita Health Sciences campus, Kochi, organized a CME (Continuing Medical Education) program on a very relevant topic called” Evolving Brain-Nature or Nurture?” on October 16th, 2018. The program was inaugurated by Sampoojya Swami Purnamritanandapuri, General Secretary, Mata Amritanandamayi Math, by lighting the lamp and giving an enlightening inaugural address.

Dr. Saraswathy, Professor and Head of Department of Physiology, Amrita School of Medicine, welcomed the participants and gave a brief introduction on the topic. She made a broad observation that the human brain is capable of adapting neuronal networks and pruning synapses according to external conditions. This is in contrast to the older concept that nature or genetics alone decides what an individual is. She further elaborated that the aim of this CME was to analyze how we could nurture brain development by providing optimal conditions right from conception, through infancy, childhood, adolescence to adulthood, and whether this nurturing could pave the way for balanced development of intellect, volition and emotion in children to establish their self-identity as an adult. 

"This becomes all the more important today in a scenario where declining trends in emotional development of children are becoming commonplace due to various factors including the nuclear family system, busy parents, less or no time for interpersonal (verbal and nonverbal) communications in the family and over dependence on electronic gadgets," observed Dr. Saraswathy. 

Dr. (Col.). Vishal Marwaha, Principal, Amrita School of Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, delivered the presidential address. This was followed by lighting the ceremonial lamp by the dignitaries and guest faculty. 

The scientific sessions were chaired by Dr. L. Sasikala (Clinical Professor, Dept. of Internal Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences); Dr. Subha Kumari (Former HOD & Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, presently working as Deputy Controller of Examinations Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences); Dr. Harish Kumar (Clinical Professor & HOD, Dept. of Endocrinology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences); Dr. Bijoy Balakrishnan (Consultant, Dept. of Fetal Medicine, CIMAR, Kochi) and Dr. K. Valsraj Menon (Additional Medical Superintendent, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences). 

In the forenoon session, Dr. Saritha Shenoy (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physiology, Government Medical College, Kottayam) talked about ‘Physiology of Healthy Brain Growth’. It was an exhaustive topic which dealt with cortical and neuronal plasticity, synaptic pruning, myelination, neurotrophins and several other factors affecting brain growth, including environmental and social factors. 

This was followed by a talk by Dr. S. R. Chandra (Clinical Professor, Cognitive Neurology and Geriatric care, NIMHANS, Bengaluru) on ‘Neurophysiology of Human Emotion and Emotional Disorders with Special Emphasis on How to Raise a Child/Adolescent with High EQ and Emotional Resilience’. The next topic was ‘Intuitive Mind: The Sacred Gift’ by Dr. Anand Kumar (Clinical Professor & HOD, Dept. of Neurology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences).  Dr. Anand pointed out that if we could cultivate an intuitive space with clean value-based models, then our intuitions are likely to be correct. He commented that meditation, prayer, relaxation and being with nature help an individual to surrender reasoning and reach the intuitive space. 

The afternoon session started off with a talk by Dr. C. Jayakumar (Clinical Professor & HOD, Dept. of Pediatrics, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences) on “Healthy Brain Growth from Childhood through Adolescence to Adulthood’’. Dr. Jayakumar opined that nurture and responsive care nourish a child’s body and mind to bloom. He stressed the vital role of mothers, family members, peer group and teachers in the emotional development of children. 

 This was followed by a lecture by Dr. Sushmita Namdeo (Specialist, Department of Fetal Medicine and Perinatology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences) on ‘Towards Healthy Neuronal and Brain Development in Utero’. It was a very interesting talk which invited many questions from the audience. The session concluded with a brief outline on ‘Evolution of Self through Meditation’ by Dr. Vandana Balakrishnan, Associate Professor, Physiology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, who had done PhD research on meditation and co-authored several papers on the subject. 

Delegates included around 160 medical faculty and postgraduate students from medical colleges all over Kerala and neighbouring states, including nursing and pharmacy college faculty and postgraduates, along with senior teachers from Amrita Vidyalayam. “On the whole, the CME program was a grand success, thanks to the dedicated teamwork by each and every member of the Physiology department,” Dr. Saraswathy concluded. Dr. D. M. Vasudevan, Founder Principal of Amrita School of Medicine and present Head of Postgraduate Research programs at Amrita, offered felicitations and Dr. Elizabeth Abraham, Professor of Physiology delivered the vote of thanks.

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