Tuesday, March 21, 2006

King Cole, in a nursing rhyme? Old soul!

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago about a study that compared the brain activity of old people to the brain activity of young people when given the same tasks. Then I came across the essential paragraph:

A basic change the brain undergoes with age may also be reversible with training. Older brains often use both the left and right half of a region for something young brains do with only one side. Sometimes that improves performance. Older adults who activate both the left and right prefrontal regions, which are involved in memory, have pretty good short-term memory, says Illinois' Kirk Erickson. The reason may be that two-sided activation of the prefrontal regions compensates for deficits in the hippocampus. In contrast, on tasks such as judgment, decision-making, concentration and multitasking, two-sided activation seems to impair performance, as if the brain is too scattered.
While reading the article, it occured to me that I understood what the old people were going through a lot more than the young people. Perhaps I'm not a ditz; perhaps I'm just old.
The good news, though, is that you can train your brain to be spritely again!
Yet in a study published online last month in Neurobiology of Aging, Dr. Erickson and Illinois' Arthur Kramer found that old brains can be trained to act like young ones.
At first, the brains of older adults (age 55 to 80) had the characteristic two-sided activation and made more mistakes than young brains. But after five hours of practicing and receiving feedback, the older brains got better -- and showed one-sided activity, like the young.
"This suggests that the brains of older adults remain relatively flexible, able to alter brain circuits in response to training," says Dr. Erickson.
Yes, brains age. But their ability to remake themselves and respond to training is undeniable.
So armed with the hope that my brain can be trained back into sharpness, I had my mother photocopy the NYTimes crossword puzzle before she started it this morning so that I could do it. (Since I tried ones I found on the internet and they're just not as good.) And I played chess last night on Yahoo!. I'm thinking I should also try doing nightly math problems.
So...anyone know a four letter word _il_ for "units for measuring wire?"

1 original thoughts out there

Anonymous sara said...

me and sara s. used to do the ny times crossword puzzle during our computer class. it was great as a waste of time but probably not so instrumental in saving our memories being as we looked almost every one up on google

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 10:19:00 AM  

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