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Mental Reserves Keep Brains Agile
NY Times ^ | December 11, 2007 | JANE E. BRODY

Posted on 12/17/2007 9:29:40 PM PST by neverdem

My husband, at 74, is the baby of his bridge group, which includes a woman of 85 and a man of 89. This challenging game demands an excellent memory (for bids, cards played, rules and so on) and an ability to think strategically and read subtle psychological cues. Never having had a head for cards, I continue to be amazed by the mental agility of these septua- and octogenarians.

The brain, like every other part of the body, changes with age, and those changes can impede clear thinking and memory. Yet many older people seem to remain sharp as a tack well into their 80s and beyond. Although their pace may have slowed, they continue to work, travel, attend plays and concerts, play cards and board games, study foreign languages, design buildings, work with computers, write books, do puzzles, knit or perform other mentally challenging tasks that can befuddle people much younger.

But when these sharp old folks die, autopsy studies often reveal extensive brain abnormalities like those in patients with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas and Yaakov Stern at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center recall that in 1988, a study of “cognitively normal elderly women” showed that they had “advanced Alzheimer’s disease pathology in their brains at death.” Later studies indicated that up to two-thirds of people with autopsy findings of Alzheimer’s disease were cognitively intact when they died.

“Something must account for the disjunction between the degree of brain damage and its outcome,” the Columbia scientists deduced. And that something, they and others suggest, is “cognitive reserve.”

Cognitive reserve, in this theory, refers to the brain’s ability to develop and maintain extra neurons and connections between them via axons and dendrites. Later in life, these connections may help compensate for the rise in dementia-related brain pathology that accompanies normal aging.

Exercise:...

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: aged; alzheimersdisease; brain; memory
Cracking the Code to the Memory Vault

This is the first of two columns on memory.

1 posted on 12/17/2007 9:29:41 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

I can’t remember what I had for dinner.


2 posted on 12/17/2007 9:31:25 PM PST by Graybeard58 ( Remember and pray for SSgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: neverdem

Dominoes and ROOK was my POPS favorite.


3 posted on 12/17/2007 9:39:28 PM PST by eyedigress
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To: Graybeard58; neverdem
I can’t remember what I had for dinner.

But do you really want to remember what you had for dinner?

4 posted on 12/17/2007 9:43:23 PM PST by Paleo Conservative
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To: neverdem

My dad and mom who are in their upper 80s kick butt on Boggle (and I scored in the top 1% in the verbal section of the GRE).


5 posted on 12/17/2007 9:43:29 PM PST by aruanan
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To: Paleo Conservative
But do you really want to remember what you had for dinner?

Sirloin from Omaha Steak, I'll have to think about it.

6 posted on 12/17/2007 9:46:16 PM PST by neverdem (Call talk radio. We need a Constitutional Amendment for Congressional term limits. Let's Roll!)
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To: neverdem

bookmark


7 posted on 12/17/2007 9:57:14 PM PST by GOP Poet
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To: Paleo Conservative
I can’t remember what I had for dinner.

But do you really want to remember what you had for dinner?

I didn't say that.

8 posted on 12/17/2007 10:06:14 PM PST by Graybeard58 ( Remember and pray for SSgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: Paleo Conservative
Kidding aside, my short term memory is getting worse. I'm 62 years old, that may have something to do with it.
9 posted on 12/17/2007 10:08:04 PM PST by Graybeard58 ( Remember and pray for SSgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: neverdem

The brain needs exercise.


10 posted on 12/17/2007 11:26:57 PM PST by CindyDawg
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To: Graybeard58

We have a saying that it’s ok if you forget where the keys are all the time. When you don’t know what the key is for though there is a problem.


11 posted on 12/17/2007 11:31:11 PM PST by CindyDawg
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To: neverdem

The brain synapses of a child are new and very impressionable.

when one gets much, much older, our brains are ‘full’ , and ‘used’.

The synapses don’t hold a new or temporary memory as well, and require repeated imprinting to hold the memory.


12 posted on 12/17/2007 11:42:50 PM PST by UCANSEE2 (Just saying what 'they' won't.)
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To: Graybeard58
I was wrapping Christmas presents this afternoon including various books for family members. I wrapped one book and then couldn’t remember who it was for and worse than that I couldn’t remember what book it was!. I had to unwrap it and then wrap it and put the sticker on it.

It was a dictionary for Scrabble and it was for my daughter and my granddaughter to share when they get together...

13 posted on 12/17/2007 11:43:06 PM PST by tubebender (Lost another one to the Tag Line bandit...)
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To: neverdem

They need to establish a mental reserve in Seattle!


14 posted on 12/18/2007 12:10:18 AM PST by rahbert
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To: Graybeard58
Kidding aside, my short term memory is getting worse. I'm 62 years old, that may have something to do with it.

Try taking the supplement Pycnogenol. It's been the object of several medical studies. Good for your vascular system and oxygenation of the brain. I've been taking it for years as it helps keep blood sugars from spiking and dropping radically. I'm hypoglycemic and haven't had a situation where I've started shaking when my blood sugar drops since I started taking it. My memory is great now and it seems to help me with that feeling that my brain is in a fog.

15 posted on 12/18/2007 1:52:13 AM PST by texgal (end no-fault divorce laws return DUE PROCESS & EQUAL PROTECTION to ALL citizens))
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To: neverdem

I’m working with my daughter’s Nintendo DS and “Brain Age”. I am dead serious when I tell you that I have stopped having the mom moments since working on it.

In my family, you either get cancer and die by 60 or have horrible “Old timers disease” as my aunt calls it. I’m hoping to avoid both.


16 posted on 12/18/2007 5:25:33 AM PST by netmilsmom (Financing James Marsden's kid's college fund, 1 ticket, 1 DVD at a time.)
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To: Graybeard58
Both my short term and long term are changing....But when I'm working (mathematics), I have no problem at all.

I think I may be drawing from this reserve "thing", pushing other memories to the back of the shelf. These "lost memories" seem to be recoverable...but it's almost like I have refiled them elsewhere and have to "research" their whereabouts.

17 posted on 12/18/2007 7:43:41 AM PST by Sacajaweau ("The Cracker" will be renamed "The Crapper")
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To: tubebender
I was wrapping Christmas presents this afternoon including various books for family members. I wrapped one book and then couldn’t remember who it was for and worse than that I couldn’t remember what book it was!. I had to unwrap it and then wrap it and put the sticker on it.

I picked out a great book on snowboarding for my daughter - in fact, it was so great that I bought it last year, too. By the time I remembered, I had already wrapped and sent it !

18 posted on 12/18/2007 1:31:59 PM PST by Red Boots
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To: Red Boots

and now the rest of my story. When I got all done my wife told me I had bought the electronic version last year!...


19 posted on 12/18/2007 3:18:56 PM PST by tubebender (Lost another one to the Tag Line bandit...)
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To: Sacajaweau
Both my short term and long term are changing....But when I'm working (mathematics), I have no problem at all.

No big deal. That's just being an absent minded professor.

20 posted on 12/18/2007 3:43:20 PM PST by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: tubebender
and now the rest of my story. When I got all done my wife told me I had bought the electronic version last year!...

I hate when that happens !

21 posted on 12/20/2007 10:50:04 AM PST by Red Boots
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To: netmilsmom
I’m working with my daughter’s Nintendo DS and “Brain Age”.

Have one wrapped for my wife for Christmas.

She wanted one to exercise her brain. Glad to hear it works.

I really need it also. My name memory is about gone.

22 posted on 12/20/2007 10:58:04 AM PST by Vinnie (You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Jihads You)
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To: tubebender

I just bought a new Vince Flynn book.
Starting reading it and thought, ‘ this sounds familiar’.

Can’t remember how it ended so just as well :^)


23 posted on 12/20/2007 11:30:32 AM PST by Vinnie (You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Jihads You)
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