I confess, I am blown away by the brain. I took a course in it from The Great Courses and have published a number of posts on it. The direct connection between physical exercise and the brain never ceases to amaze me. You can check out my Page – Important facts about your brain – (and exercise benefits) to read more.
Regular readers know I do a lot of work on the brain, my brain. Family members have suffered from both Alzheimer’s and dementia. At the age of 78, I want to continue enjoying my life and mental capacity.
Now comes Michigan State University with info on how light affects our mental functioning.
Spending too much time in dimly lit rooms and offices may actually change the brain’s structure and hurt one’s ability to remember and learn, indicates groundbreaking research by Michigan State University neuroscientists.
The researchers studied the brains of Nile grass rats (which, like humans, are diurnal and sleep at night) after exposing them to dim and bright light for four weeks. The rodents exposed to dim light lost about 30 percent of capacity in the hippocampus, a critical brain region for learning and memory, and performed poorly on a spatial task they had trained on previously.
The rats exposed to bright light, on the other hand, showed significant improvement on the spatial task. Further, when the rodents that had been exposed to dim light were then exposed to bright light for four weeks (after a month-long break), their brain capacity – and performance on the task – recovered fully.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is the first to show that changes in environmental light, in a range normally experienced by humans, leads to structural changes in the brain. Americans, on average, spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Continue reading
Regular readers know that I have a serious interest in brain health as three of my family members have suffered from dementia in general or Alzheimer’s in particular.
Now comes Neuroscience News reporting, “Individuals who participated in high challenge activities like quilting and photography showed enhanced brain activity, according to a new Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience report.
“One of the greatest challenges associated with the growing numbers of aged adults is how to maintain a healthy aging mind. Taking up a new mental challenge such as digital photography or quilting may help maintain cognitive vitality, say researchers reporting in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.”
I would like to add that in my experience attending the Healthy Transitions (over age 55) group talks at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, on the various aspects and challenges of aging, the most popular and avidly attended talks are the ones on Alzheimer’s and brain health. All of us folks over 55 have suffered ‘senior moments’ and are hungry for information on protecting against brain drain. Continue reading
“It’s increasingly clear that exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the body, The Globe and Mail reported. “You’ll score better on cognitive tests immediately after a moderate workout, and the gains accumulate over weeks of regular exercise. The mechanism is thought to involve a rise in growth-promoting brain chemicals and neurotransmitters, but it’s not clear how much or what type of exercise is most effective.
“To investigate the optimal brain-boosting exercise dose, a University of Kansas study assigned older adults to walk for between zero and 225 minutes a week for 26 weeks. As little as 75 minutes a week was enough to improve scores on a battery of cognitive tests, and there were further gains all the way up to 225 minutes. The overall pattern was that those who made biggest improvements in aerobic fitness also saw the biggest boosts in cognitive scores. Get your body fit, in other words, and the brain will follow.”
It’s great to read this information elsewhere. I have been writing about it for some time. Check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) to learn more.
Meanwhile, the AARP reported that in a survey of adults over 40, some eight out of 10 believe maintaining or improving brain health is important. Also, more than half, (56 percent) currently engage in activities healthful to the brain, like consuming a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. Continue reading