Thursday, November 21, 2013

Brain Myths #5

The last myth we'll discuss in this cluster is the belief that you lose millions of brain cells every day and that they cannot be replaced. Yes, studies estimate that the average human brain loses about 85,000 neurons every day from the cortex. This is about one every second. However, when you really look at what this means, it's a tiny percentage of the neurons in your brain. Some estimates are that at the rate of one neuron per second, it would take you nearly 600 years to lose even half of your brain's neurons. Indeed because of neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) Researcher Paul Coleman at the University of Rochester showed that the total number of nerve cells in your brain at age twenty does not significantly change when you reach age seventy. That's great news. How do you stimulate the neurons you do have?  By engaging in 30 minutes of challenging mental exercise every day--and by 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise every day. Studies with rats by Sam Sisodia, U of Chicago Alzheimer's researcher, showed that physical exercise and mental stimulation protected mice from exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer's even when they had been engineer to carry a human Alzheimer's mutation in their genome. So get busy . . . one hour a day is great prevention and can help you have a healthier older life. It may not only extend your years but help you keep life in those years.

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