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Use It or Lose It

In my view, the more I know about how the brain functions, the more I can understand human behavior. That's why I read Dr. John Ratey's A User's Guide to the Brain, (which I promised to blog about -- I haven't forgotten). While reading User's Guide, I was struck by how much researchers learn about the brain by studying brain disorders such as ADHD, autism and Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's research is bearing fruit. This article summarizes ways that people can prevent Alzheimer's by exercising their brain.
Your brain is like a muscle — use it or lose it. Brain scans show that when people use their brains in unusual ways, more blood flows into different neural regions and new connections form. Do a new type of puzzle, learn to play chess, take a foreign language class or solve a vexing problem at work. Try to challenge your brain daily, Edgerly advises.
Elizabeth Edgerly, mentioned above, heads a free program in California to teach people how to exercise their brain in hopes of avoiding Alzheimer's. Her other tips include involving one's self in social groups and getting as much education as possible, having an interesting job, and avoiding stress and worry.

On the drug front, researchers at Myriad Genetics, a Salt Lake City biotech company, have developed a compound that is showing promising results in stopping the spread of plaque in the brain that is thought to be the main cause of Alzheimer's.

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