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Friday, 18th March 2011

Brain Briefing: Healthy Aging

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We all want to age well. Exercise, eating right, and avoiding stress help maintain a healthy body as we age, but what about the brain? New research indicates these same strategies also promote brain health.

Why do some people preserve their memory into old age while others do not? Much research is being done to answer this question. While science has yet to find a way to stop the aging process and prevent degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, neuroscientists are actively researching this area and have already found several strategies that may help maintain or improve brain health as we age.

Word puzzles and nighttime classical music are often misguidedly touted as cure-alls to preserving brain health into old age. However, brain myths such as these have now largely been debunked. In fact, human and animal studies have established that simple habits can lead to sharper memory in our later years. Basic science research indicates that many lifestyle choices are linked to brain health. These findings are showing: 
  • How exercise enhances nerve cell formation and survival in parts of the brain associated with learning and memory.
  • Why diets high in fat and sugar increase the formation of a protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • How chronic stress can damage the hippocampus — a brain region linked with learning, memory, and emotion.

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An Info Pro, librarian, entrepreneur, author, worldwide connector and book-lover, Heather Negley is recognized for her new ways of thinking about librarianship, research, social media and creativity. Heather is the founder of HelpALibrarian.com and Zing Information Services. She has most recently been an Information Research Specialist with the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress where she provided business research for members of Congress and their staffs. Heather also worked as a research reporter for U.S. News and World Report and as a technical advertising producer on the washingtonpost.com. She received her MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in Boston, MA.

Heather can be reached at heather.negley@freepint.com

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