Thursday, August 23, 2007

Neurogenesis - A Fountain of Youth in Your Mind

(cc) Douglas CooteyI don't usually post linkfests, but I came across some interesting articles today that I thought you might enjoy reading.

The first was a fluff piece over at called "The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Brains". With advice like "remember the brain is part of the body" I wasn't expecting much, though I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with their point #10 on laughter. However, their article was inspired in part by a thought provoking piece over at the New York Times. This is the article that excited me the most. "Lobes of Steel" is a must read for people who struggle with their brain because of failing memory, attention, or cognitive acuity. Personally, I struggle with my brain physically. We go mano y mano every morning and I think one of these days I'm gonna be able to take it. Any day now. Because I'm exercising and building more than muscle.

Yep, contrary to popular belief I do get outside of my home for recreational excursions. No, I'm not counting the small jaunt from the minivan to the apartment and back in between errands. I bought myself some inline skates for Father's Day and I've been getting away from the computer several times a week. According to "Lobes of Steel", this activity may do more for me than remove my pot belly. It may add new neurons.

The process is called " neurogenesis" and this flies in the face of old school beliefs that the brain's neurons cannot be regrown. There have been experiments that have resulted in neuron growth (Depression: Synthetic Marijuana Grows Brain Cells in Rats and Treats Depression and Brain Cells Grown In Laboratory) but none that offered a simple solution that didn't involve direct injections into the brain or dealing with a controversial substance. Not a solution as simple as exercise, yet that is exactly what has been proven in several studies in the past ten years, the most recent being done at Columbia University in New York City. Interestingly, there may also be a link between neurogenesis and serotonin - that old mood regulator that I and many of my readers have insufficient amounts of.

Exercise has long been linked to the increased production of serotonin in the brain and has been often recommended as a form of therapy for those who suffer from Depression. Now you may have another reason to get off the couch or out of the dark closet and into the sunlight for a workout. You may very well improve your memory as you improve your mood.

Like reading The Splintered Mind? Share articles with your friends, link from your blog, or subscribe!