alzheimers

Why train your nerves?

For many years I’ve noticed the forgotten aspect of training your nervous system and the adaptations it makes to support your activity underpins all the improvements you see.

I read a beautiful research article named how brain cells change their tune and I felt it was time to explain mytheory that learning a skill depends on training our nerves. (more…)

Fitness: Could your brains ability to harness energy explain age related mental decline?

Everyone seems to assume that your mind must degrade with age. I’ve never seen convincing evidence for that. I simply see that increasing age requires increasing maintenance since our parts and code get old. In otherwords,

You are only as old as the lifestyle you live. 

So it is that I am good at finding evidence that shows this to be true. There is increasing evidence that
Age-related cognitive decline is linked to the energy available to synapses in the prefrontal cortex. The study’s senior author, John Morrison, PhD explains this more clearly

“We are increasingly convinced that maintenance of synaptic health as we age, rather than rescuing cognition later, is critically important in preventing age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease,”

So the experts are finding that our brain structures don’t die off as much as we thought. The real problem is that the brain needs energy to keep its traffic flowing because neurons need energy to transfer signals. As people age our current lifestyles lead them to become inefficient in accessing their available energy stores. So less energy is made available to support brain traffic.

The authors sum up the finding neatly

Working memory requires the energy-demanding activation of nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex through the complex arrangement of the synapses that interconnect nerve cells.

In short. Synapses need lots of energy to work properly. Without that energy they start to fail.

If you have been following this blog you may start to understand why I believe that the health of our bodies reflects an energy economy. Financial economies suffer when money flows slowly. Cashflow is everything and individual businesses fail simply because cash flow isn’t handled properly.

In the same vain life is all about energy flow and individual humans suffer problems when they manage their energy poorly.

The best way to fix problems like this is to be more active. With the mind you need both physical and mental activity. The reason is simple. Your brain loses functionality because it can’t tap into the energy resources around it. This happens primarily because you don’t use your brain enough and so it hasn’t kept up its sharpness. It’s literally become unfit. So you have to train it by using it.

Over time the parts that were slack are forced to get back up to speed. It’s obviously much more technical than that but that is what ultimately why the term use it or lose it was coined.

It’s Not Memory Loss – Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information

So, It’s Not Memory Loss – Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information is the kind of finding that makes sense to me. I’ve met plenty of older peeps whose memory is just fine. They can remember all sorts of stuff they do regularly. though as you would expect, they can get confused by all the other information they have to sort through. 
I’ve noticed the same each time I play tennis at lunch!!! In the first set calling the score is easy. Everyone can do it. Later on though mistakes start occurring. We can’t agree if it’s 30-40 or 40-30. We run through the points that have just been played. You know how it goes. 

Deja vu

Though a knowledge of psychology makes it easier to understand the problem. The scoring system in tennis encourages repetitive score lines and essentially Deja Vu. You have to really use your memory well in order to keep an exact track of events because by the end of a match every possible score line is likely to have occurred and thus each scoreline will feel relevant or at least recent. So figuring out what happened only a few shots or points ago starts to become a bit muddled. This happens independent of the age of the players.
The study reports:
older adults’ performance on cognitive tests reflects the predictable consequences of learning on information-processing, and not cognitive decline.

The point here is that this happens to any one for predictable and standard reasons. For younger people new information has no or little conflict with what they already know. For older people most things conflict or update what they already know. So they can start to get confused about what is the correct version of information they need to use or present right now. 

Computer memory has the same problem!!!

This is actually the exact same reason a computer gets slower over time and use because at first there is only so much information stored in its memory (hard drive). So it’s really easy to find what is needed or know that it’s not there. 
Over time more of the memory gets used and much gets changed and over written. So things become really cluttered. In fact your computer memory often starts breaking apart whole chunks of information and storing them separately. Putting it all back together when needed. As you can imagine this requires a lot of administration and effort. Taking time and slowing things down. The complexity also means more can go wrong. Details of where memories and their parts are stored can get lost or broken. 

Organising and accessing information

If this sounds like your human memory I think it’s because the principles are essentially the same. Organising and accessing a lot of information is obviously much much harder than organising and accessing a lot less information. 

the larger the library you have in your head, the longer it usually takes to find a particular word (or pair)

 So I like this article It’s Not Memory Loss – Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information because it fits what I have seen all my life and also what I see in technology. The same problems generally have the same solutions. It also makes me feel more positive about my memory as I age. Something to support what I believed anyway.

A well honed body and mind

Though I still feel it’s important to keep fit because what your body can do reflects what your brain can do. If your body isn’t fit and thus fast, strong and well honed then why would your brain be. All the evidence points to fitness affecting the whole body not just individual parts.

In fact, the new study is not likely to overturn 100 years of research, cognitive scientists say. Neuroscientists have some reason to believe that neural processing speed, like many reflexes, slows over the years; anatomical studies suggest that the brain also undergoes subtle structural changes that could affect memory.

How activity and exercise improves your health

For years we have been told that exercise is good for us. Now the evidence is becoming indisputable.  Being inactive is as bad as smoking or drinking too much alcohol. It could even be more serious than that.

Over the years I’ve found so much information I didn’t know what to do with it. I mainly shared it through my original blog or kept it private hoping to share it when I found the right approach. For many of these articles I’ve now been waiting years which just isn’t helping anyone.

I recently realised my blogs are the perfect medium on which to share because I’m most interested in the discussions and debate around this topic. I don’t feel I have the answers, I share because I’m interested in learning and using what I learn to help me on my journey through life.

I have now started to organise all I have found and it’s re invigorating my dreams because the message really is about living your life. The act of living itself is what we must do. Moving is living. Activity to me isn’t just physical it is mental and emotional. Thinking about things makes your brain active, experiencing emotions involves both your brain and your body.

For now most information will be about physical activity because that is what is most available. Though I am looking for and finding interesting articles in all three areas. Over time this and all the other posts will grow as I continue this life journey.

Diseases

For now I’m creating a series of articles covering the various topics related to activity and health. So far I have published:

Key articles

Activity is so useful throughout life that I’ve also compiled a list of the main articles worth reading to build your general knowledge.

Useful Reading

Here is more useful information

Mental activity may circumvent Dementia and Alzheimers


Lack of physical activity is now accepted as a serious health risk and the evidence shows that our brains need as much activity as our bodies do to keep them fit and healthy.

The amount of research showing this link is becoming over whelming so I have share a few of my favourites to help you quickly understand how beneficial good movement can be to :

  1. strengthen your mind,
  2. give you more energy
  3. and prevent against serious illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s

Working around problems

My absolute favourite is the nun study because it used cold hard data instead of correlations and showed very clearly that

  1. Everyones brain experiences the changes that lead to Alzheimer’s
  2. Alzheimer’s only occurred in those who didn’t regularly challenge their brain
  3. Challenging the brain forces it to find ways to overcome poorly functioning brain systems.

I like to read the authors words so this excerpt is a grreat summary of the findings:

Autopsies of the brains of individuals who lived well into their nineties or older and who showed no signs of mental functional decline, revealed that most exhibited significant changes in brain structures and biological markers usually associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  In spite of those changes, they did not show any behavioral changes.  Snowden concluded that continued mental exercising allowed for the development of alternate pathways that bypassed the diseased portions of the brain and that appeared to account for their preserved mental functioning.

This kind of research implies that our bodies have a highly developed capability to work around problems within themselves. All they need to trigger this ability is the right kind of stimulation which generally comes from some kind of activity. Those that train their minds regularly benefit greatly because their brains learn to work around the existing problems and continue functioning as normal.

Maintaining proper underlying functions

In looking at just how activity may help dementia I found that a strong immune system and properly regulated protein synthesis help prevent Alzheimers and dementia which are two core body processes that are improved with quality physical activity.

In general the idea is that activity, whether it’s mental or physical, challenges your body and mind, forcing it to make the changes required to be efficient and work well

Could your brains ability to harness energy explain age related mental decline?

Everyone seems to assume that your mind must degrade with age but I’ve never seen convincing evidence for that. I simply see that increasing age requires increasing maintenance since our parts (Cells and organs) and code (DNA) get old. In otherwords you could say,

You are only as old as the lifestyle you live.

There is increasing evidence that Age-related cognitive decline is linked to the energy available to synapses in the prefrontal cortex. The study’s senior author, John Morrison, PhD explains this more clearly

“We are increasingly convinced that maintenance of synaptic health as we age, rather than rescuing cognition later, is critically important in preventing age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease,”

So the experts are finding that our brain structures don’t die off as much as we thought. The real problem is that the brain needs energy to keep its traffic flowing because neurons need energy to transfer signals and as people age their modern lifestyles lead them to become inefficient in accessing their available energy stores. The result being that less energy is made available to support brain traffic.

The authors sum up the finding neatly

Working memory requires the energy-demanding activation of nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex through the complex arrangement of the synapses that interconnect nerve cells.

In short. Synapses need lots of energy to work properly. Without that energy they start to fail.

If you have been following this blog you may start to understand why I believe that the health of our bodies reflects an energy economy. Financial economies suffer when money flows slowly. Cashflow is everything and individual businesses fail simply because cash flow isn’t handled properly.

In the same vain life is all about energy flow and individual humans suffer problems when they manage their energy poorly.

The best way to fix problems like this is to be more active. With the mind you need both physical and mental activity. The reason is simple. Your brain loses functionality because it can’t tap into the energy resources around it. This happens primarily because you don’t use your brain enough and so it hasn’t kept up its sharpness. It’s literally become unfit. So you have to train it by using it.

Over time the parts that were slack are forced to get back up to speed. It’s obviously much more technical than that but that is what ultimately why the term use it or lose it was coined.

Summary

That is a quick introduction to some of the amazing research I have discovered and a little taster of the benefits being active both mentally, physically can bring. There are more links in the related articles below that take this investigation even further and lots more information on fit2thrive.co.uk.

Get in touch

If you want to know more about taking care of your mind, body and spirit then get in touch at colin@fit2thrive.co.uk where I provided the most fun healthy lifestyle plans and advice that you will find. I look forwarded to seeing your over there.

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