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Friday, May 22, 2009

Neuroplasticity: Takin' it to the streets

Neuroplasticity has hit the pop health circuit, it seems, via Dr. Mercola:

According to the work of neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, it takes just 30 hours of neuroscience-based listening training to prompt amazing changes in your brain. Children with learning impairments were able to improve:

• Memory and cognition
• Speech production
• Reading

In other words, they were able to “fix” their brains with the training so they were able to function better with language, memory, speech and other basic skills. Further, the training worked on adults in their 80s and 90s too. Again after just 30 hours of training, elderly people improved:

• Immediate memory
• Delayed memory
• Attention
• Language
• Visio-spatial skills

The “brain training” Merzenich referred to was so effective because your brain is actually very much like a muscle. That is, your brain's structure changes over time and it may be possible to "bulk up" your brain throughout much of adulthood, given the proper training.
All I know is this: It's worth a try. Seniors who keep their minds active with constructive activities have a much happier old age than those who sit on a chair grousing about their illnesses or persecuting the daughter-in-law who selflessly looks after them.

And I've seen enough of both of the latter types of behaviour to last me the rest of my life.

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