Originally posted on Friday, January 25, 2019 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Jaye Watson spent 18 years as a reporter for 11Alive, largely doing breaking news.
Needing a change of scenery, she left the NBC affiliate two years ago to join the Emory Brain Health Center for a newly created job: director of brand awareness and outreach. She was able to create long-form videos about what Emory researchers are doing.
Now she has taken those skills she built at both places to create a new Georgia Public Broadcasting show “Your Fantastic Mind,” which debuts Monday at 8 p.m. The 30-minute program explores issues related to the brain such as how video game playing affects the mind, the crippling repercussions of concussions and an unusual sleep disorder that makes it hard for a person to stay awake.
Each episode blends human stories, medical discoveries and even animation to explain the science.
“I hope it’s empowering and entertaining,” said Watson, who hosts and narrates all the pieces. “It’s also deeply fulfilling.” She even hired two former 11Alive photographers to help her out.
Watson said she said she loves highlighting researchers doing important work who would otherwise toil in relative anonymity. “These are people changing the world, curing diseases and helping us live longer,” she said. “They spend their lives in their labs. I’m outing them!”
She has worked not just with her Emory colleagues but also researchers at Grady Health, Children’s Healthcare, the Shepherd Center, Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health, among others. She has followed some of patients for more than a year.
The first episode airing Monday night features Dacula resident Nate Lewis, 52, an NFL player from 1990 to 1995. Over the years, he had at least 20 concussions. At the time, standard treatment was ice on the head, he said.
“He played through pain and confusion so severe, there are entire days of his career that are a blank,” Watson narrated.
Seven years after retirement, he became full of rage and his wife Sherrie said he felt disconnected. “He wasn’t there anymore and he didn’t love me,” she said.
He was facing the consequences of playing so many years of full-contact football. He became depressed and suicidal. He and his wife were on the brink of divorce.
But then former San Diego Chargers teammate Junior Seau took his own life in 2012. Seau had a progressive degenerative disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
This was an eye opener for Lewis, who sought treatment at Emory Brain Health Center. He now takes medicine for his temper, his headaches and attention issues and does rehabilitation to help keep his brain sharp.
Emory neuro-psychologist Dr. Tony Stringer has developed exercises to help patients like Lewis improve reasoning, problem-solving and attention deficiency issues. He shows how parts of brains can pick up the slack for others that are no longer functioning properly.
For another story, Watson brought in her own 13-year-old son Jude about video-game disorders.
“He loves video games,” she said. “We really severely limit his playing time. He would die in the basement of malnutrition if I didn’t do that.”
Another segment is about 22-year-old Decatur resident Joshua Clark, who has a rare brain condition called tuberous sclerosis that generates tumors which badly impacts his cognitive ability. Half of his body is severely limited. He has the mental capacity of a 15 year old. But one part of his brain not directly impacted help turn him into an excellent jazz musician.
“What music does for me is help me forget about my frustrations,” he told Watson. “I hope whatever I intend to accomplish, it will not only be for my good but for the good for people besides myself.”
GPB is planning to do 12 episodes for the first season.
“Your Fantastic Mind,” Mondays, starting January 28, 2019 at 8 p.m. on GPB
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