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Music Lessons Early in Life May Help Preserve Brain Function with Age

Posted Mar 09 2013 10:20pm

Previous research suggests that training during a sensitive period in development may have greater effects on brain structure and behavior than training later in life.  Virginia Penhune, from Concordia University (Canada), and colleagues tested 36 adult musicians on a movement task, and scanned their brains. Half of these musicians began musical training before age seven, while the other half began at a later age, but the two groups had the same number of years of musical training and experience. These two groups were also compared with individuals who had received little or no formal musical training.  When comparing a motor skill between the two groups, musicians who began before age seven showed more accurate timing, even after two days of practice. When comparing brain structure, musicians who started early showed enhanced white matter in the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve fibres that connects the left and right motor regions of the brain. Importantly, the researchers found that the younger a musician started, the greater the connectivity.  The study authors conclude that:  “We propose that training before the age of 7 years results in changes in white-matter connectivity that may serve as a scaffold upon which ongoing experience can build.”

Steele CJ, Bailey JA, Zatorre RJ, Penhune VB.  “Early Musical Training and White-Matter Plasticity in the Corpus Callosum: Evidence for a Sensitive Period. “ J Neurosci. 2013 Jan 16;33(3):1282-90.

  
Canadian team reports that taking music lessons before the age of 7 years helps to create stronger connections in the brain.
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Tip #131 - Shake the Salt Habit
In the western world, people consume on-average 10 to 12 grams of salt daily, mostly unknowingly as salt is frequently added by food producers/manufacturers, if not by the individual when cooking or serving foods. While salt is a vital nutrient involved in many body functions, overconsumption can markedly raise blood pressure, putting people at-risk for a fatal cardiovascular event.

On a global scale, reducing salt intake around the world by 15% could prevent almost 9 million deaths. Researchers from Kings Fund London (United Kingdom) analyzed low- and middle-income countries, which carry 80% of the world's burden for chronic disease. While they found that simple dietary changes could reduce salt intake by 30%, a 15% reduction in salt intake was found to potentially correlate to saving 8.5 million lives from cardiovascular deaths.

Aim to reduce your consumption of processed and prepared foods, which are common sources of high concentrations of salt.
 
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