martes, octubre 24, 2006

No todo es malo con la edad para el cerebro


Brain-imaging is revealing many things about our brains that challenge the way we’ve traditionally thought about brain function and development. Here’s a report on a brain-imaging based study released this month …

It turns out the brain is more like fine wine than cheap beer: It gets better and more sophisticated with age, according to a new University of New Mexico study. The body stops producing gray matter – the stuff the brain's thinking lobes are made out of – at about age 16.

But white matter – the connective fiber between the lobes that allows parts of the brain to interact with each other – continues to grow until about age 45, according to the study by UNM's Health Sciences Center and New Mexico VA Health Care Systems.

“It looks like in some ways people between ages 35 to 45 are actually at their prime in terms of brain development,” said Cheryl Aine, a UNM researcher and lead author of a paper that details the findings in the Oct. 1 issue of the journal NeuroImage.

Scientists used to think it was all downhill for the brain after the teenage years, because gray matter stops developing and shrinks as people enter their 20s, Aine said. In the study, scientists scrutinized that theory by imaging the brains of people in three age groups – people 20-29, 35-45 and those older than 60.

They found that gray matter becomes more refined, and the white matter “superhighway” that sends information between them keeps growing well into adulthood. “We lose some of the gray matter because we get rid of the extra synapses we don't use,” Aine said. “It's more sculpted after that. It's more efficient.”

When it comes to memory and learning, young brains do still have an edge, said Janice Knoefel, a physician in geriatrics at the VA Hospital who also worked on the study. “Attention tends to decline and memory tends to decline as we get older,” she said. “But we use different strategies to remember things.”

by Sue Vorenberg
from the Scripps Howard News Service

Another thing we’re learning is just how much it matters that we care for our brains. Proper nutrition, rest, physical and mental exercise are essential to keeping our brains in prime condition as we age. Our internal research here at Amen Clinics is bearing that out. The function (or lack thereof) of certain brain areas has an impact on our behavior, life and family.

The good news is, the better we can identify the parts of the brain that are either working too hard or not hard enough, the better we can focus our treatment on that area. So, there’s hope for all of us on “the back side of forty”. Our brains really can improve with age and the proper care. And, as we understand the brain better, I believe our best brain-health days are yet to come!

To Your Brain Health,


Daniel Amen, M.D.

Las frutillas son buenas para la memoria

Fisetin, a naturally occurring flavonoid commonly found in strawberries and other fruits and vegetables, stimulates signaling pathways that enhance long-term memory, report researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Besides strawberries, fisetin is found in tomatoes, onions, oranges, apples, peaches, grapes, kiwifruit and persimmons. Gingko biloba leaves, while rich in other flavonoids, do not contain fisetin.

While eating strawberries sounds like an enjoyable alternative to popping a pill, Maher cautions that it would take about 10 pounds a day to achieve a beneficial effect, which might prove too much even for the most avid strawberry lovers.