Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007

JANE GLENN HAAS: Brain is body part worth sweating over
– Orange County Register

My brain is getting soft – and so is yours.

When I was a kid, I was taught the stuff in my head was hard-wired, came at birth and stayed that way until death.

Now we know better. Brains have what scientists call “plasticity.” They can turn into a puddle of glop or they can be encouraged and exercised to stay young.

“Use it or lose it” should be the mantra for everyone 40-plus. Exercise your brain. And, yes, The New York Times crossword puzzle is a start. But only a start.

In a peculiar way, we can thank those who suffered from Alzheimer’s for making us aware of brain function. Watching loved ones sink into dementia has spurred interest and determination to keep our brains fit, just like we tighten those glutes.

Posit Science in San Francisco has created the premier program to enhance brain “plasticity,” as the scientists say. Their computer-based program is the only one backed by tested scientific conclusions that doing their 40-hour exercise actually reverses brain aging by 10 years.

Hasbro says two-thirds of boomers surveyed feel their mental acuity is better than others in their group because of game playing. They say Scrabble is the best board game, edging out chess.

“It’s important to play board games,” says Dr. Paul Nussbaum, a clinical neuropsychologist and brain health expert who specializes in aging across the life span (

Nussbaum says the average brain weighs 2 to 4 pounds and is comprised of about 60 percent fat. The fat, he says, helps keep the information moving quickly.

Here is the full story.

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