The Aging Brain: Bad News/Good News

March 7, 2010 at 7:07 am 8 comments

As a Boomer who loves to eat much and often, I have learned that if I don’t take to the treadmill most nights, I will suffer for it with reduced energy and mental lethargy for several days to come, to say nothing of the pounds I seem to acquire almost instantly.  The way in which my body has appeared to guide me on its own, I now discover is based on scientific fact.  In a radio piece entitled “The Aging Brain Is Less Quick, But More Shrewd” airing on March 1, 2010, National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Michelle Trudeau provided information about research on the aging brain.

Listen to the story from the link above to get all the facts but here are a few gems:

  • Bad news:  Reaction time is slower in the aging brain – it may take longer to learn or retrieve new information
  • Bad news:  Our ability to multi-task diminishes with age – we’re quick but we may be sloppy and make more errors!
  • Good news:  Complex reasoning skills improve
  • Good news:  Empathy (the ability to understand the emotional viewpoint and feelings of others) increases as we age
  • Good news:  The brain is always changing and is capable of brain cell growth in middle age and beyond

My favorite part of the story was Ms. Trudeau’s revelation that memory can improve with treadmill workouts.  Citing research conducted by neuroscientist Art Kramer (University of Illinois), Kramer found that “three days a week, working up to an hour a day, people improved in various aspects of both short-term and long-term memory.”  Following treadmill workouts, individuals were given brain scans and those who had trained on the treadmill had larger hippocampi, the key brain area for memory, as well as growth in other brain areas controlling decision making and planning.

While my rationale for walking exactly one hour has not been based on scientific knowledge or method (I watch DVDs when I walk and I can view at least one full TV episode of a favorite series each night), I was delighted to discover all the positive benefits of my treadmill regimen…and I can feel my hippocampus growing as I write!

NPR has recently featured other stories on brain research including an article broadcast February 22, 2010 that reported how scientists are working to understand what hormonal and physiological cues in the body lead the brain to respond to food emotionally.

I have no doubt my Boomer brain is best served by regular physical and mental exercise and I regularly turn to the Library to obtain the resources that help accomplish both. Good news: If you don’t have a library card, it takes only a few minutes to apply, and once a “member” of the library, you’ll have access to a wealth of resources to keep your aging brain young!

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12 Again: the Importance of Play Retirement Resources Update

8 Comments Add your own

  • […] The Aging Brain: Bad News/Good News « LINK Logs […]

    Reply
  • 2. barkErema  |  March 28, 2010 at 6:39 am

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    Reply
    • 3. torrancepubliclibrary  |  March 29, 2010 at 6:57 am

      Thank you for your nice comments about our blog. If you wish to receive e-mail notification when we add postings, you can subscribe by scrolling all the way down on the bottom right and enter your e-mail in the subscription box.

      Reply
  • 4. Himetinty  |  April 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm

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  • 5. john  |  September 10, 2010 at 3:46 am

    Thank you for your nice comments about our blog. If you wish to receive e-mail notification when we add postings, you can subscribe by scrolling all the way down on the bottom right and enter your e-mail in the subscription box.
    Health, Fitness, Medicine

    Reply
  • 6. David Ford  |  September 19, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I think that if you let the brain stagnate, then you rapidly follow it. We only ever use a fraction of what our brain is capable of, and my belief is that you should constantly feed the mind with good positive matter that will enhance your life and also your attitude.
    Good stuff in and good stuff out. You can still benefit from self help and personal development well into senior age levels, and indeed some of the most successful people ever, did not achieve their success till later years of their life. So keep reading and learning would be my advice.

    Reply
  • 7. free iPhone 5  |  December 2, 2010 at 11:33 am

    i’m often scurrying all over the web most of the afternoon and so I tend to peruse quite a bit, which unfortunately is not normally a beneficial thing as nearly all of the blogs I visit are made up of useless garbage copied from several other sites a trillion times, however I have to compliment you because this page is genuinely half decent and even features a bit of unique information, for that reason cheers for removing the pattern of simply duplicating other individual’s blogs and forums 🙂

    Reply
    • 8. Torrance Public Library  |  December 3, 2010 at 9:31 pm

      Thank you for your kind words about our website. We appreciate your feedback and hope we are addressing issues of interest to you. If you have any suggestions for topics you’d like us to post about, please leave a comment. Also, if you’d like to be notified whenever we add a post, you can subscribe to the blog by scrolling down the right hand column to the “email subscription window.”

      Reply

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