Brain

Stronger Muscles for Improved Brain Function

Workout.Female.DumbellIn Australia, a University of Sydney study has linked improved cognitive function with stronger muscles using a steady regime of weightlifting exercises. Published in the Journal of American Geriatrics, the study used a system known as SMART (Study of Mental and Resistance Training). A trial was done on a group of patients age 55 to 68, suffering MCI (mild cognitive impairment). This condition is not as serious as full-blown dementia, as people affected only have mild cognitive symptoms not severe enough to disable them from normal daily life.

The aim of the study was to measure the effects of different physical and mental activities on the human brain. Researchers examined 100 people affected by MCI. They were divided into four groups, and assigned the activities as seen below:

  • Weightlifting exercises
  • Seated stretching exercises
  • Real cognitive training on a computer
  • Placebo training on a computer

The weightlifting trial lasted for 6 months with exercising done twice a week. As the participants got stronger, they increased the amount of weight for each exercise. The exercises were done while trying to maintain 80% or greater at their peak strength.

Surprisingly, only the weight training activity demonstrated a measured improvement in brain function. The stretching exercises, cognitive training, and placebo training did not yield any results. This proved a link between muscle strength gained through physical training and the improved cognitive functions. According to Doctor Yorgi Mavros, lead author of the study, there was a clear relationship between mental functions and increased muscular strength. And the stronger the muscles got the greater the mental improvement.

Doctor Mavros is a strong advocate for encouraging resistance exercises as people start to grow older. The result could be a much healthier aging population. Mavros stressed the need for exercising at least 2-3 time per week at a high enough intensity in order to get the maximum cognitive benefits.

Read the full story.

Source: WorldHealth.net.

Swedish Diagnostic Method for Alzheimer’s Becomes International Standard

Body.Disease.Alzheimer1Researchers at Gothenburg University have developed a reference method for standardized measurements that diagnose Alzheimer’s disease decades before symptoms appear. The method has now formally been classified as the international reference method, which means that it will be used as the standard in Alzheimer’s diagnostics worldwide.

Everyone naturally builds the beta amyloid protein in his or her brain. The protein’s normal function is not completely mapped, but one theory is that it participates in the formation and removal of synapses, which is vital in enabling the brain to form new memories.

Remain in the brain

Beta amyloid built by healthy people is quickly transported out to the spinal fluid and blood. But with Alzheimer’s, the beta amyloids remain in the brain, where they clump together and begin to damage the synapses, which leads to brain, nerve cell death.

This process can begin in middle age and continue unnoticed for decades until the nerve cells are so damaged that symptoms take the form of a memory disorder and impaired cognitive abilities. At that point, the disease is felt to be too advanced to be treated, so intensive worldwide research is underway to find methods that diagnose Alzheimer’s sooner.

Exact measure

After decades of research, Henrik Zetterberg and Kaj Blennow at Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, were able to develop a method that measures the exact amount of beta amyloid in spinal fluid and diagnose Alzheimer’s ten to thirty years before the disease becomes symptomatic.

“If the concentration of beta amyloid in the spinal fluid is abnormally low, it indicates that the protein is sticking in the brain, which is the earliest sign of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

Global reference

The Gothenburg researchers’ pioneering studies have gained wide international recognition since the measurement method they developed was approved as the global reference method.

“This means that the method will be used as the norm for standardizing beta amyloid measurements around the world. With the help of the standard, people who are worried about Alzheimer’s disease can be tested, and get the same results regardless of whether it is done in San Francisco, Sao Paolo, London, Gothenburg or Cape town,” says Kaj Blennow.

“We put a lot of effort into this project and it has been initiated and conducted, and now completed by us at Gothenburg within the framework of a global cooperation project that we head,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

Read the full story.

Source: University of Gothenburg. “Swedish diagnostic method for Alzheimer’s becomes international standard.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2015.

Active Body, Active Mind: The Secret to a Younger Brain May Lie in Exercising Your Body

Body.Brain.Puzzle1It is widely recognized that our physical fitness is reflected in our mental fitness, especially as we get older. How does being physically fit affect our aging brains? Neuroimaging studies, in which the activity of different parts of the brain can be visualised, have provided some clues. Until now, however, no study has directly linked brain activation with both mental and physical performance.

As reported in the latest volume of the journal NeuroImage, an exciting new study led by Dr Hideaki Soya from the University of Tsukuba in Japan and his colleagues show, for the first time, the direct relationship between brain activity, brain function and physical fitness in a group of older Japanese men. They found that the fitter men performed better mentally than the less fit men, by using parts of their brains in the same way as in their youth.

Check the full story.

Source: University of Tsukuba. “Active body, active mind: The secret to a younger brain may lie in exercising your body.” ScienceDaily.

Brain Workout (M, 126): Find Your Way

Body.Brain.ThinkIntroduction

  • Your mission is to trace a single path from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the grid.
  • Travel through all of the cells in either a horizontal, vertical or diagonal direction.
  • Every cell must be entered only once.
  • Your path should take you through the numbers in the sequence 1-2-3-4-5-6-1-2-3-4-5-6, and so on.
  • Click below to find the correct path.
  • Have fun and good luck!

Exercise

Click to view the correct answer (Member).


Want to become a member of Club One Fifty? Start your free membership by providing your contact details.

Exercise Boosts the Brain

Body.Brain.ThinkThe ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to skeletal muscles during sustained physical activity is known as cardiorespiratory fitness. Scott Hayes, from Boston University School of Medicine (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues assessed a group of adults ages 18-31 years, and a group aged 55-82 years.

All participants underwent brain MRIs and were assessed for cardiorespiratory (heart and lung) fitness via treadmill test. Among the older adults, the team observed that cardiorespiratory fitness was positively linked to the structural integrity of white matter fiber bundles in the brain; no such association was observed in younger adults. The study authors observe that: “[cardiorespiratory fitness] is positively associated with neural white matter microstructure in aging. The association between peak VO2 and [fractional anisotropy – an indicator of white matter integrity] appears to be age-dependent.”

Read the full story.

Source: WorldHealth.net.

Brain Workout (M, 130): Find Your Way

Body.Brain.ThinkIntroduction

  • Your mission is to trace a single path from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the grid.
  • Travel through all of the cells in either a horizontal, vertical or diagonal direction.
  • Every cell must be entered only once.
  • Your path should take you through the numbers in the sequence 1-2-3-4-5-6-1-2-3-4-5-6, and so on.
  • Click below to find the correct path.
  • Have fun and good luck!

Exercise

Click to view the correct answer (Member).

Brain Workout (M, 138): Sudoku

Body.Brain.ThinkIntroduction

  • Your mission is to fill every square in the diagram below with a different number from 1 to 9 inclusive.
  • The numbers 1 to 9 should only occur once on every row and in every column.
  • Also, the numbers should only be found once in every one of the nine smaller nine-square squares. Obvious, right!?
  • Click the link below to view the correct numbers.
  • Have fun and good luck!

Diagram

Body.Brain.Workout.138

Click to view the correct answers (Member).

Brain Workout (M, 117): Elimination

Body.Brain.ThinkIntroduction

  • Your mission is to determine how many baskets that contained a mango, by doing some elimination.
  • Try solving the problem first with only your brain – no use of pen and paper, or other aid.
  • Good luck!

Exercise

Eighteen baskets of fruit were laid out for sale in a shop and each bore a unique number, 1 to 18 inclusive. All of the odd-numbered baskets held apples and no pears – and all of the even-numbered baskets held pears and no apples.

Any basket with a number lower than 9 held strawberries but no cherries – and any basket numbered 9 or higher held cherries but no strawberries. Any basket numbered 13 or lower held bananas but no apricots – and any basket numbered 14 or higher held apricots but no bananas.

A pineapple was placed into those baskets with both pears and bananas, as well as those baskets with both cherries and bananas, plus those with both apples and apricots – and a mango was placed into all of the remaining baskets.

How many baskets contained a mango?

Click to view the correct answer (Member).