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Old 03-03-08, 07:36 PM   #1
DnvrFox
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50+'rs, Challenges and Brain Plasticity

50+'rs, Challenges and Brain Plasticity

I have been watching a very interesting special on PBS regrading plasticity of the human brain.

It appears that if the brain is constantly challenged with new things to do and figure out, that a couple of neuro transmitters or chemicals (whatever) are released that increases the plasticity and growth of the brain.

However, just doing the same old thing does not. So, if a person reads books every night, it does not necessarily increase plasticity unless the book required new thoughts and challenges.

I can remember some 35 years ago when we took our youngest son to a place in Philadelphia called the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, where they prescribed intensive physical therapies to alleviate brain damage. The program was carried out in the home by volunteers 7 days per week 13 hours per day. We continued this program for 6 years in CO, then Il and then CO again.

The program was highly controversial and pooh-poohed by the MD's and others, who believed the brain was a fixed piece of protoplasm, and could not be changed. In fact, my advisor for my doctorate told me the same thing - the brain is an unchangeable organ.

At that time, I kept wondering about the therapy given stroke victims. If what everyone said was true, then why were there physical and occupational and speech therapists giving therapy to stroke victims - essentially giving brain therapy, as a stroke is in the brain, not the limbs or speech affected?

In any event, Andy made some good progress in that program

So, anyway, folks, keep your challenges coming into your life - it will keep your brain growing and "plastic." There is actual physical evidence (the chemicals they find in the brain) that can be found.

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Old 03-03-08, 08:19 PM   #2
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Great info, DF! I guess the challenge is getting comfortable with challenges! When I'm stressed, I fantasize about running away someplace where neither of us has to work, we can ride our bikes, he can do tai chi and make the woodshop he's always talked about, I can oil paint and knit, two cats in the yard, and all that. Guess making that fantasy come true is a nail in the coffin.
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Old 03-03-08, 08:55 PM   #3
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That is fascinatimg and good news. I suffer from brain lesions and maybe if my life continues to be as challenged as it is my good cells will continue to out pace the bad ones.
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Old 03-03-08, 10:12 PM   #4
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Great thought DF. This is another reminder that, no matter how much it may hurt, life is basically a use it or lose it deal.
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Old 03-04-08, 07:25 AM   #5
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Here is a trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b3XcNENTLk

Here is the DVD if interested:

The Brain Fitness Program DVD ($24.95, shipped by 02/01/08)

"This program presents a workout to help viewers get their brains in better shape. The Brain Fitness Program is based on neuro-plasticity, the ability of the brain to change and adapt — even rewire itself. In the past two years, a team of scientists has developed computer-based stimulus sets that drive beneficial chemical, physical and functional changes in the brain. Dr. Michael Merzenich of the University of California San Francisco and his colleagues around the world have been leading this effort; he brings the research findings, along with a scientifically based set of brain exercises, to PBS viewers in this innovative and life-altering program. Peter Coyote (pictured) narrates. "
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Old 03-04-08, 08:39 AM   #6
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Riding in Los Angeles traffic seems to really stretch my brain...
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Old 03-04-08, 08:47 AM   #7
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I'm going to try world travel.
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Old 03-04-08, 09:03 AM   #8
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I've read similar research on the brain and aging. Your post, however, made me think that I should, in the spirit of the research, start posting in some of the other BF forums too! Where to start? What would be the most different and/or challenging compared to the 50+ forum?
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Old 03-04-08, 09:41 AM   #9
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So, this means that riding fast, twisty, technical singletrack is turning my brain to plastic? I can believe that.
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Old 03-04-08, 09:47 AM   #10
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I've read similar research on the brain and aging. Your post, however, made me think that I should, in the spirit of the research, start posting in some of the other BF forums too! Where to start? What would be the most different and/or challenging compared to the 50+ forum?
Try the VC forum under Advocacy and Safety. If that one doesn't tax both your thinking and your patience, forget it!

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Old 03-04-08, 10:15 AM   #11
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I'm going to try world travel.





Brilliant! My plan also...( so of course, that makes it a brilliant one...)
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Old 03-04-08, 10:17 AM   #12
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Try the VC forum under Advocacy and Safety. If that one doesn't tax both your thinking and your patience, forget it!



Thanks for the miles of smiles. You are catching on...


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Old 03-04-08, 10:31 AM   #13
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Thanks for the miles of smiles. You are catching on...


Do I detect an effort at behavior modification???

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Old 03-04-08, 10:31 AM   #14
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While you don't add additional cells to your brain you can certainly loose the ones you have and rewire them in different ways. I think there is plenty of evidence that an active mind keeps ones body healthy and an inactive mind degrades health. Just like muscles if you don't use the cells the body uses the principle of conservation of energy and starts to reduce them.
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Old 03-04-08, 11:01 AM   #15
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Do I detect an effort at behavior modification???



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Old 03-04-08, 11:08 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSLeVan View Post
I've read similar research on the brain and aging. Your post, however, made me think that I should, in the spirit of the research, start posting in some of the other BF forums too! Where to start? What would be the most different and/or challenging compared to the 50+ forum?


P & R?

Classic and Vintage? Lots to remember...

SoCal is kinda like Lord of the Flies...if you prefer those machinations.
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Old 03-04-08, 12:11 PM   #17
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Try the VC forum under Advocacy and Safety. If that one doesn't tax both your thinking and your patience, forget it!

And. most importantly, your logistical skills!
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Old 03-04-08, 12:59 PM   #18
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Firm believer here that NEW challenges are good brain exercise. And it can be as simple as brushing your teeth with the other hand (try it). Embrace new games, try to keep up with your kids trends, buy a smartphone (and figure it out), try a new hobby, play golf, exercise, take public transportation, play guitar hero, switch to a left handed mouse, replace your favorite home clock with a backwards one (or a binary one), invent something, learn another language, play ping-pong left handed (try blindfolded), take chances, make mistakes, get messy......
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Old 03-04-08, 01:02 PM   #19
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or the ultimate challenge, ...switch to Windows Vista
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Old 03-04-08, 02:03 PM   #20
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or the ultimate challenge, ...switch to Windows Vista
It's certainly possible to challenge ones self without resorting to punishment!

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Old 03-04-08, 04:18 PM   #21
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Excellent.
However, speaking for the majority of Americans -playing devil's advocate here-
what drugs are available to plasticize the brain?
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Old 03-04-08, 05:07 PM   #22
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Excellent.
However, speaking for the majority of Americans -playing devil's advocate here-
what drugs are available to plasticize the brain?
Crack cocaine.

Oh wait. That's to pureť the brain. My bad.
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Old 03-04-08, 10:14 PM   #23
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I think that I saw the same program. I think that they said that 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week would grow new neurons. So we will all be much smarter next year. Again exercise has benefits which are unbelievable. Maybe exercise will be the cure for cancer and who knows what else.
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Old 03-06-08, 02:27 AM   #24
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If exercise was a cure for cancer my wife never would have been sick. She did everything right according to the "experts" and had no family history. From what I have seen those, this is good for your health, this is bad, or this helps avoid cancer, or this causes cancer are all a crock of manure.
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Old 03-06-08, 07:54 AM   #25
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If exercise was a cure for cancer my wife never would have been sick. She did everything right according to the "experts" and had no family history. From what I have seen those, this is good for your health, this is bad, or this helps avoid cancer, or this causes cancer are all a crock of manure.
One of the sad side effects of the "take responsibility for you health" kick is that often people forget that disease is not punishment for not taking care of yourself. As it seems you know all too painfully, people get sick even when they do everything "right". It is very unfortunate that we're reached the point where many people think those who are ill did something wrong. While I can see the value of having folks participate in health seeking behaviors, I wish we had enough money in research to speed up the process of eliminating many, many diseases.
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