Friday, September 14, 2012

AARP Brain Boosting Advice

This engaging article by P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D. starts with the case history of an accomplished mathematician who, in his 70s, had a terrific memory and IQ in spite of a brain scan which indicated that he had “all the markings of full-blown Alzheimer's disease."

The article goes on to address the core issue that this raises “How does the brain continue to function—sometimes quite efficiently—despite changes that should cause severe disability? An answer, many scientists believe, is "cognitive reserve": the combination of a person's innate abilities and the additional brainpower that comes from challenging the mind. Studies show that diverse, mentally stimulating tasks result in more brain cells, more robust connections among those cells, and a greater ability to bypass age- or disease-related trouble spots in the brain. The more you work your mind, the greater your cognitive reserve. And the greater your reserve, the greater your ability to withstand the inevitable challenges of aging.”

I found this bit about “cognitive reserve” and how to increase it, the most valuable part of the article.

And while the article is slanted to the 50+ crowd, I’m sure that many brain tumor victims under 50 feel like their brain has had more than 50 years’ worth of wear and tear on it given their illnesses.

He also talks about degrading memories among the AARP crowd and what folks can do to address those issues in his thoughts about growing new brain cells. This is a topic that many authors are jumping on including Gretchen Reynolds in her book The First 20 Minutes and Barbara Strauch in The Secret Life of the GROWN-UP Brain (you can find my reviews of both of these books is you search my site).

All-in-all, it’s a nice compilation article which also includes advice on brain-boosting activities and “healthy habits.”

Here’s a link:

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