Tag Archives: Brain Health

Excerpts: Chip Walter On The “Search For The Aging Cure” (“Immortality, Inc.”)

From a LitHub online article by Chip Walter, 69:

Immortality Inc Chip Walter bookAnd what if older neurons were replaced wholesale with new stem cells? They might scramble different sectors of the brain by destroying the new connections between the originals. Fiddle with those, and who knew what mayhem might follow? Memories, learning, and other cerebral functions that the brain had grown accustomed to might simply vanish. On the other hand, in the case of a disease like Alzheimer’s, maybe new memories would be better than no memories at all.

Robert Hariri’s views on human health began to take an unusual turn a little more than 25 years ago, when he was working as a neurosurgeon and trauma doctor at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. Day after day, he watched patients come into the emergency room with severe brain injuries, and it was a painful thing to witness.

He never forgot the case of a woman who had arrived after a senseless automobile accident. She was young, and the injury was bad. Every time he spoke with the family, the big questions they asked were: “How will she be? Will she come back? Could she be a mother to her children again?” It broke his heart.

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William J. (Chip) Walter Jr. (born May 23, 1951) is an author, journalist, National Geographic Fellow, educator, filmmaker and former CNN bureau chief. He has written five mainstream science books between 1991 and 2019. Walter was one of the original employees at Cable News Network when it went on the air June 1, 1980 and later became its youngest bureau chief when he created CNN’s first Southeast Bureau in 1981 before heading up the network’s San Francisco Bureau in 1982. He has written and produced several PBS science documentaries, served as an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University in three different departments, worked with UNICEF on the issue of childhood trauma, spoken at Harvard, Xerox PARC, Carnegie Mellon University and the Chautauqua Institution. One of his three original screenplays was produced and released under the title Sunset Grill in 1993 starring Peter Weller, Lori Singer and Stacy Keach. In 2015 his feature story for National Geographic Magazine explored the origins of human art and symbolic thinking.

From Wikipedia

Health: Characteristics Of Neurodegenerative Diseases (Mayo Clinic)

Dr. Nilüfer Ertekin-Taner, neurogeneticist and behavioral neurologist, discusses characteristics of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and movement disorders. She also discusses her research on the complex genetics of Alzheimer’s disease, including identifying therapeutic targets and biomarkers. She highlights Mayo Clinic’s unique approach to patient care.

Video Interviews: Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin On Aging Well (PBS)

As a neuroscientist, professor emeritus of psychology, musician and best-selling author, Daniel Levitin has extensively studied the brain and its impact on aging. His latest book, “Successful Aging,” explores the questions: what happens in the brain as we age and what are the keys to aging well? NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker recently spoke to Levitin to learn more.

Daniel Levitin website

PBS Newshour episode website

Health Studies: Vigorous Daily Exercise Increases Neurotropins, Boosting Cognitive Function

From the Journal of Sport and Health Science:

Therefore, promotion of adequate volumes and intensities of physical exercise (i.e., approximately 3 months of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, with 2–3 sessions/week lasting not less than 30 min) represents an inexpensive and safe strategy for boosting BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) release that may preserve or restore cognitive function.

Updated overview on interplay between physical exercise, neurotrophins, and cognitive function in humans Journal Of Sport and Health Science Jan 2020

Taken together, the currently available data seemingly confirm the existence of a positive relationship between physical exercise and circulating BDNF levels, both in the short and long term, and also support the beneficial impact of training programs for amplifying the acute BDNF response.

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New Brain Health Books: “Successful Aging” By Daniel J. Levitin (Jan 7, 2020)

Successful Aging Daniel J. Levitin A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives January 2020 Cover‘Successful Aging’ uses research from developmental neuroscience and the psychology of individual differences to show that sixty-plus years is a unique developmental stage that, like infancy or adolescence, has its own demands and distinct advantages. Levitin looks at the science behind what we all can learn from those who age joyously, as well as how to adapt our culture to take full advantage of older people’s wisdom and experience. Throughout his exploration of what aging really means, Levitin reveals resilience strategies and practical, cognitive enhancing tricks everyone should do as they age.

Author of the iconic bestsellers This Is Your Brain on Music and The Organized Mind, Daniel Levitin turns his keen insights to what happens in our brains as we age, why we should think about health span, not life span, and, based on a rigorous analysis of neuroscientific evidence, what you can do to make the most of your seventies, eighties, and nineties today no matter how old you are now.

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Health Studies: “Why Your Brain Needs Exercise” (Scientific American)

From a Scientic American online article:

Scientific American logoIn our own study of more than 7,000 middle-aged to older adults in the U.K., published in 2019 in Brain Imaging and Behavior, we demonstrated that people who spent more time engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity had larger hippocampal volumes. Although it is not yet possible to say whether these effects in humans are related to neurogenesis or other forms of brain plasticity, such as increasing connections among existing neurons, together the results clearly indicate that exercise can benefit the brain’s hippocampus and its cognitive functions.

New Neurons in Aging Brains Why Your Brain Needs Exercise Scientific American December 18 2019

In fact, a growing body of research suggests that exercise that is cognitively stimulating may indeed benefit the brain more than exercise that does not make such cognitive demands. For example, Gerd Kempermann and his colleagues at the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden in Germany explored this possibility by comparing the growth and survival of new neurons in the mouse hippocampus after exercise alone or after exercise combined with access to a cognitively enriched environment. They found an additive effect: exercise alone was good for the hippocampus, but combining physical activity with cognitive demands in a stimulating environment was even better, leading to even more new neurons. Using the brain during and after exercise seemed to trigger enhanced neuron survival.

To read more: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-your-brain-needs-exercise/

Health: “Understanding Parkinson’s Disease” (Nature Videos)

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that affects the brain and other parts of the nervous system. The gradual loss of nerve cells leads to a suite of characteristic motor and non-motor symptoms.

Understanding Parkinson's Disease Nature Neuroscience Videos Dec 16 2019

What causes these cells to die and how the pathology develops in the nervous system are not yet clear but multiple lines of investigation are being pursued to answer these questions. In this animation, we explore some of the latest in Parkinson’s disease research.

Website: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41583-019-0254-x