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Gray Matter and Genes vs Environment

Posted May 22 2009 11:54pm

Watching the PBS Special The Brain Fitness Program

recently about recent discoveries in neuroscience about keeping the brain agile and fit, among the many importants points the show made were:

  • the adult brain can in fact change its structure and function in a significant way, even after the age of 60
  • there are two factors: genetics (or family history), and environment. The relationship between those two: genetics and environment, dictate the degree of gray matter loss. There is not much we can do about the former, but we can be proactive about our brain's environment. We can exercise it. Being active about exercising our brain is just as important for the fitness of our brain, as is being active about exercising our bodies ... see also today's article in Exercise staves off age-related brain changes in the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine that states "Regular exercise increases cerebral blood flow and helps to stave off age-related brain changes"

  • the brain is not hard-wired in childhood

  • we are not doomed by our DNA

  • the brain is flexible and plastic (remember the term neuro-plasticity ) throughout our lifespan

  • the brain can frequently heal itself (see also Dr. Norman Doidge, in previous posts on this blog)

These and many other questions and issues and new discoveries on the leading edge of neuroscience are grappled with in this fascinating video. Take the time to watch it in its entirety, and not only the ten minutes that I have posted here.

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