Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Brain over Brawn? Or, More Accurately, Brawn Builds Brains.

Brawn builds brains. That’s the conclusion of writer Gretchen Reynolds.  She’s recently written a book, entitled The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer. Her book backs up that assertion with a review of the latest exercise and brain-building research.

I listened to her interview (and she’s a really fun interview) with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air which hooked me even though it mostly focused on her new insights on exercise. Here’s a link to that interview:

In an April 18th New York Times article, though, she asserts that “The value of mental-training games may be speculative… but there is another, easy-to-achieve, scientifically proven way to make yourself smarter. Go for a walk or a swim. For more than a decade, neuroscientists and physiologists have been gathering evidence of the beneficial relationship between exercise and brainpower. But the newest findings make it clear that this isn’t just a relationship; it is the relationship. Using sophisticated technologies to examine the workings of individual neurons — and the makeup of brain matter itself — scientists in just the past few months have discovered that exercise appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinkage and enhance cognitive flexibility. Exercise, the latest neuroscience suggests, does more to bolster thinking than thinking does.”

That last line is both well-written and provocative.

I haven’t read her book, but have a hold on it at the library. I have read her NY Times article and it sounds a lot like something Barbara Strauch would say.

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