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Teach an Old Brain New Tricks

Teach an Old Brain New Tricks

Worried that your mind will be the first thing to go as you age? Well, new research will put your fears to rest and give you a pleasant surprise when it comes to the aging brain: It turns out that older adults can learn new skills just as well as younger adults. However, learning something new does take longer for seniors than twenty-somethings.

Researchers looked at seniors over 50 and a group of volunteers in their 20s, all of whom had never juggled. The researchers took MRI scans of their brains before they were taught how to juggle, at the peak of their juggling skills and three months after they’d stopped juggling. While all of the participants in the younger group learned to juggle, only 25% of the participants in the older group could juggle by the end of the study.

The brain scans revealed that both the senior group that learned to juggle and the younger group showed increased gray matter growth in the part of the brain related to vision and motion. The older group also showed an increase in gray matter growth in two other parts of the brain, the hippocampus and the nucleus accumbens, that the younger group did not show. In both groups, the brain changes faded unless the juggling skills were practiced.

What’s something new you’d like to learn? What’s holding you back? And who knows—maybe by learning new skills you’ll prevent a dementia or Alzheimer’s health diagnosis. [HealthDay]

Posted: 7/15/08
lilliede81

I'm in the process of learning the "something new", for me ......computer ...... & chainmaking. I experience a great sense of satisfaction!!