His earlier experiences as a physician have made University
of Otago medical researcher Associate Prof John Reynolds
vividly aware of the "devastating" damage strokes can cause.
Prof Reynolds, who is a neuroscientist and deputy director of
the University of Otago's Brain Health Research Centre, was
one of three leading neurological researchers who took part
in a Dunedin panel discussion on brain health this week.
Chaired by broadcaster Kevin Milne, this was one of a series
of panel discussions being presented by the Neurological
Foundation to mark its 40th anniversary as a funder of
The discussion, attended by more than 150 people, was devoted
to "The Brain Matters: Progress Through Research", and was
held at the university's College of Education Auditorium.
Prof Reynolds highlighted the positive "cross-fertilisation"
between his earlier work as a physician and his current
He recalled one busy day when, as a doctor at a northern
hospital, he had been asking a series of diagnostic questions
involving a stroke patient who had lost the ability to speak
and was partly paralysed.
An accompanying family member had strongly pointed out that
the patient concerned had a few hours earlier been the head
of a local service club and had been running several
Prof Reynolds later decided to pursue his interests in
neuroscience and has subsequently won several fellowships and
These included, in 2010, an inaugural Rutherford Discovery
Fellowship to undertake applied research into stroke and
Another panelist, Prof Winston Byblow, director of the
Movement Science Laboratory at Auckland University, strongly
emphasised the value of regular physical exercise in
maintaining brain health.
Studies had shown the protective benefits of such exercise,
such as walking for about 35 minutes a day, he said.
If the same benefits could be gained by taking a pill, people
would take it, but many remained loath to do the exercise
because this was still regarded as a "four-letter word", he
Another panelist, Prof Paul Glue, who heads the Otago
psychological medicine department, discussed other new
research approaches, including new insights into
• The southern neurosurgery campaign received $50,000
yesterday from the Marsh Family Trust and Cooke Howlison.
Chair of Neurosurgery campaign project manager Irene Mosley
said the donation brought the total to $2,807,385.