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Physical and mental exercise to prevent cognitive decline

Posted Nov 19 2008 12:00am

We offered some in our , including…

“7. Doctors and pharmacists will help patients navigate through the overwhelming range of available products and interpret the results of cognitive assessments. This will require significant professional development efforts, given that most doctors today were trained under a very different understanding of the brain than the one we have today.”

The American Medical News, a weekly newspaper for physicians published by the American Medical Association, just published an excellent article along those lines:

Steps to a nimble mind: Physical and mental exercise help keep the brain fit
– Neuroscience is uncovering techniques to prevent cognitive decline.

A few quotes:

- It’s an example that highlights a wave of new thinking about the importance of brain fitness.

- Until recently, conventional wisdom held that our brains were intractable, hard-wired computers. What we were born with was all we got. Age wore down memory and the ability to understand, and few interventions could reverse this process. But increasingly, evidence suggests that physical and mental exercise can alter specific brain regions, making radical improvements in cognitive function.

- With nearly 72 million Americans turning 65 over the next two decades, physicians need the tools to handle growing patient concerns about how to best maintain brain health. Armed with this new brand of science, frontline physicians will be better equipped to address the needs of aging baby boomers, already in the throes of the brain fitness revolution.

- “Encourage them to exercise the brain in novel and complex ways,” he says.

Full article: here

One of the physicians quoted in the article is Gary J. Kennedy, MD, Director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in NYC and a professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

To put the AMA article in better perspective for SharpBrains readers, we asked Dr. Kennedy a few follow-up questions. Below you have his questions.

Alvaro Fernandez (AF): Can you summarize how cognitive functions tend to evolve as we age?

Gary Kennedy (GK): As we age cognitive functions that rely on

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