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Do These Two Things: Have a Bigger Better Brain

Get Married; Have a Better Brain Married couples have a significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease than single individuals. We didn’t see that finding coming.  A research paper in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry reported that singles had a 42% higher risk of dementia than couples. Widowed had an average of 20% higher. Curiously, divorced individuals had the same risk as married. Andrew Sommerlad, MD of the University of London, along with fellow researchers Joshua Ruegger and Archana Singh-Manoux MD, speculate that the benefit comes from social contact, communication, looking-out for each other and more mental activity. (We’ve written before on the extreme detriment of loneliness on health in general and brain health in particular). We’re speculating that the punch line is to get married if you’re not….
Build Up Endurance; Build Better Working Memory We were recently explaining to someone that one of the reasons that biological medicines are so expensive is t…
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You Are Outsourcing Your Brain & It Might Be a Bad Idea

Middle-age spread associated with Alzheimer’s, and why Google may be bad for your brain.

The News About Fat Just Keeps Getting Worse The Journal of Alzheimer’s and Dementia reported the results of a study on fat as an Alzheimer’s factor. This very large study-1.3 million subjects- reviewed data comparing Body Mass Index (BMI) to incurrence of dementia. BMI measures the relationship between height and weight. The finding was stark and severe: being over-weight at middle age increases the risk of dementia later in life. The study was performed by a highly-respected research team, led by Psychology Professor Mika Kivimaki at University College London and Ritva Luukkonen from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Helsinki and included experts from throughout Europe. Study details here. Consumer safety tip: it contains math you didn’t see in high school. Is Google Shrinking Your Brain? Frank Gunn-Moore is a professor at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, a…

Shampoo Your Brain: Lather, Rinse, Repeat Every 24 Hours

While you sleep, your glymphatic system shampoos your brain. It gives it a good cleaning and eliminates any toxins or bad stuff that has managed to slip in. Of course, your brain is performing an endless number of other functions as well. But the cleaning function is different in that it only is performed while you sleep. And if you don’t sleep enough, well, you’re trying to do your waking tasks with a clogged-up, messy, dirty brain. It is possible- although speculative at this point- that there may be a link between inadequate sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. Enough’ s Enough How much sleep do you need? We came across a newsletter from the Cleveland Clinic with some information on appropriate amounts of sleep that referenced guidelines from a variety of sources including National Sleep Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Obviously, infants and babies sleep most of the time, furthermore, they need to. Toddlers (ages 1-3) need 12-14 hour…

Read a Novel: Grow Your Brain!

When’s the last time you read a novel? When’s the last time you read one and really thought about it? If you answered college, or even high school, you may want to pick up a best seller, and maybe a classic too.
Research from Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy As we follow research on how to not just maintain a healthy brain, but to grow a bigger one, sometimes we find ourselves surprised. This is one of those situations. We found some research on how reading novels may improve our brains, which made us happy because all of us at Big Brain Place love to read. Gregory Berns, MD, PhD led team of researchers at Emory University who studied the effect of reading a novel on the brain. Dr. Berns, as well as other members of the team, are experts in MRI technology. The scientists established baseline MRI observations for the group of test participants. Then the participants read a section of a novel each day. On the following day, they got an MRI. That process continued until they com…

Let's Get Sweaty Baby

She Blinded Me With Science made it to No. 8 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1982. It was written and recorded by Thomas Dolby, whose real name was Thomas Robertson. Robertson had become so skilled with recording equipment and the like that his friends nicknamed him Dolby, for the rather more famous noise reduction and sound reproduction company Dolby Laboratories.

Brain Science This post is pretty “sciency”, hence that introduction. Three brain factoids to set the stage: ·One part of the brain is the hippocampus, which we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts. It is part of the limbic system and plays an essential part in the formation of new memories and is involved in learning. ·Neuroplasticity is a term that means that the brain can change-or be “plastic” into adulthood. One of the most important things we’ve learned in recent times is that the brain is “plastic” in adulthood. That is, it can grow, remain healthy, make new nerve connections and so on. Not that long ago, the prevailing theo…

Get REM Sleep; Manage Fear

A good night’s sleep may help you manage fear and risks better.

A study just posted in Journal of Neuroscience describes the importance of a good night’s sleep to controlling strong emotions, especially fear. Previous studies in this area attempted to discover what happens in the brain after a frightful experience.  These prior studies, for example, show how Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects sleep. A team at the Rutgers University Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, led by Itamar Lerner, has taken a different approach. They wanted to see if there is a relationship between adequate sleep and prevention or management of the brain’s reaction to subsequent stressful events. Research Team Lerner is a Postdoctoral Fellow in sleep research. Along with fellow researchers Neha Sinha-also doing Postdoctoral research-in her case in brain imaging, Shira Lupkin and Alan Tsai, they used new technology that allows mobile tracking of sleep habits over a period of time, not j…

Sugary Drinks, Diet Soda & Your Brain

Soda can make you stupid, or worse.
Sometimes we find research reports on brain health that are sobering. There was a rather spooky one we just read. But we also discovered one that is positive. Here’s the tough medicine first. Artificial Sweeteners May Be Bad For You Here’s the punch line: “Daily diet soda drinkers three times more likely to develop stroke and dementia compared to those who don’t”. You might have seen that headline before. It drew a lot of publicity. Now, remember your statistics class: correlation doesn’t mean causation. Just because the years that skirt hemlines go up are also years that the stock market goes up doesn’t mean short skirts cause the stock prices to increase. It could be that other things diet soda drinkers do – or don’t do- is the reason they are more likely to have a stroke or get dementia. Here’s a link to a summary of the research if you want to read more. The research was done by a team from Boston University, led by a professor of neurology. They us…