Friday, November 13, 2009
As the brain ages, neural connections occur more slowly, causing certain abilities to to fall off from where they were when the person was younger. But all is not lost. Just like the baseball player who can no longer throw that strong fly ball, other abilities that come with experience take its place
The abilities that actually IMPROVE with aging are social judgment, vocabulary, general information and long-term memory. Those that deteriorate are short-term memory, visual-motor coordination, reaction time, and spatial ability. The overall picture shows the scales to be
about evenly balanced.
Physical activities such as aerobic exercises increase the oxygen and blood flow to the brain, thereby enhancing its ability. A work-out which includes aerobic activity there to four times a week is sufficient for producing this effect
Regarding novelty and stimulation, studies have shown that what doesn't kill you raises your IQ. This has been found consistently in nursing home residents who were forced to move. Those who survived scored higher on the IQ test the following year.
Puzzles, brainteasers, poker, chess and similar activities act to stretch the right brain in the same way exercise stretches certain muscles. Learning a new language or academic subject, likewise stretches the left brain. (Just a small plug - my book is full of these type of brain exercises).
An overall healthy diet is important for the brain as it is for the body. Avoid. Refined carbohydrates crash diets and other substances which wreak havoc on blood sugar, thereby starving brain cells of nourishment. Protein and foods which digest slowly such as seeds, nuts and oatmeal help maintain a steady glucose level which optimizes brain functioning. Foods high in anti-oxidants such as berries, broccili, and most un-refined carbohydrates are good "brain foods".
The use of alcohol and drugs should best be entirely avoided or at least minimalized. Brain research has shown that whenever a drinker feels even slightly giddy brain cells are being destroyed. Marijuana can cause permanent loss of short-term memory and ability to transfer material to long-term memory. Cocaine produces negative effects on short-term memory and can cause permanent loss of attention, concentration and focusing abilities. Psychadelic drugs do not "expand" one's mind. Rather they interact with neuro-transmitters in such a way as to distort one's perception and judgment, thereby creating the illusion of mind expansion. Funny true report from a man who took LSD and went to sleep. He woke up with what he felt was a profound thought that would save the world. He wrote it down so he wouldn't forget it. In the morning he checked out his brilliant statement. It read "I have to take a leak".
In summary: Healthy living, Healthy body, Healthy brain.
Dr. Jean Cirillo http://drjeantv.net
Jean Cirillo, Ph.D.