Exercise Your Mind
The more you work your brain, the more likely you will stave off Alzheimer’s disease
Just a modest amount of mental stimulation can go a long way towards warding off Alzheimer’s disease. This is the opinion of researchers who created mice genetically modified to get a condition similar to it.
Researchers at the University of California-Irvine studied hundreds of mice altered to make them develop abnormalities known as plaques and tangles in brain tissue that are considered hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease in people. Writing on Tuesday in the Journal of Neuroscience, they said periodic learning sessions-swimming in a tub of water until finding a submerged platform to stand on-slowed the development of those two abnormalities in the mice.
“The remarkable thing was that just by learning infrequently, they still had a very dramatic effect on the Alzheimer’s disease pathology, ” said Kim Green, one of the researchers.
“So it suggests that in humans, if you learn more and more and more, it’s going to have a huge, beneficial effect,” Green added.
The findings highlight an idea that also has emerged in other research-that exercising one’s mind is important to staving off Alzheimer’s disease, the degenerative brain malady that is the most common form of dementia among the elderly.
Smart link Green noted that other studies have found that highly educated people are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than people with less education.
There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s , which gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability t o learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities.
“What we have shown is that by learning by stimulating your mind, you’re able to protect against the development of the pathologies associated with the disease,” Green said.
“Crossword puzzles reading books, learning a new language-anything you can do to stimulate the brain is going to be beneficial, we think.”
The mice were given “a very mild learning experience”-essentially figuring out a maze but in the water-for a week at a time every three months. The sessions were four times daily for a week at two, six, nine, 12, 15 and 18 months of age.
The mice that performed the task experienced slower development of the protein beta amyloid clumping in the brain and forming plaques, gooey build-up that accumulates outside nerve cells, the study found.
These mice also experienced a slower build-up of another protein in the brain. Hyperphosphorylated-tau, that can lead to the formation of neurofibrillary tangles-twisted fibers in brain cells.
Green said the researchers are looking into whether more frequent and intensive learning sessions might provide bigger and longer-lasting benefits.
Alzheimer’s disease first affects parts of the brain controlling memory and thinking. As it advances, it kills cells elsewhere in the brain. Eventually, if the patient has no other serious illness, the loss of brain function will prove fatal.
There are other mind tools or learning techniques that can help the brain synergise both halves ie., the left and the right hemispheres. It has long been known in the scientific world that the left hemisphere is responsible for logical functions such as those functions involved in reasoning and mathematics whereas the right hemisphere is responsible for the creative, imaginative and artistic functions of an individual.
Einstein is the most prominent person to have used the left-right synergy technique in formulating his famous equation of light and matter, E=mc2. Using special mind tools or mind training techniques developed in the last century and notably the last 50 years, individuals have been known to have developed phenomenal feats of memory like associating hundreds of names and faces , long arithmetic formulas as well as long strings of numbers all in the matter of minutes or seconds.
Whether memorizing long strings of numbers (more than 10 digits) have any practical applications is open to debate. But it does give the mind the workout it needs to stave off (not cure) Alzheimer’s disease. Such techniques are very easy to learn yet once learnt and used often enough, remains with the user all his life and allows the brain to store massive amount of information used in school, work or ordinary everyday life. However, most people go about their everyday lives without knowing such wonderful techniques are available.