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Exercise Radically Improves Brain Power

Exercise can keep your brain sharp as you age. A new study has shown that a program of exercise can, over the course of a year, increase the size of your hippocampus, a part of the brain key to memory and spatial navigation.

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The hippocampus often shrinks in late adulthood, leading to memory impairment.

According to the Los Angeles Times:
“To complete the study, the team recruited 120 older people who didn’t exercise regularly. Half were randomly assigned to an aerobic exercise program … The group doing aerobic exercise had increases in hippocampus volume: up 2.12 percent in the left hippocampus, and 1.97 percent in the right hippocampus.”

Regular exercise can also improve the ability of overweight children to think, plan and even do math, according to other recent research. MRIs have shown that previously inactive children who start to exercise experience increased brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, an area associated with complex thinking, decision making and correct social behavior.

The more they exercise, the better the result.

Eurekalert reports:
“Intelligence scores increased an average 3.8 points in those exercising 40 minutes per day after school for three months with a smaller benefit in those exercising 20 minutes daily.  Activity in the part of their brain responsible for so-called executive function also increased in children who exercised … Similar improvements were seen in math skills”.

Resources:
*Los Angeles Times January 31, 2011

*Wall Street Journal February 22, 2011

*Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

*Eurekalert February 18, 2011

*Georgia Health Science News

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Healthy Tips

Blue Light May be Key to Fighting Winter Blues

As winter approaches and the days get shorter, your mood may get darker too. Sunlight deprivation can make people feel lethargic, gloomy, and irritable, and for some it can lead to the condition known as seasonal affective disorder, (SAD). or winter depression.
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This can make you feel lethargic, gloomy, and irritable. However, while daylight as a whole is beneficial to fight off the syndrome, different colors of light seem to affect your body in different ways.

Click to see :7 Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Blue light can affect your mind, including mood. And according to a new study, blue light might play a key role in your brain‘s ability to process emotions. The study results suggest that spending more time in blue-enriched light could help prevent SAD.

CNN reports:
“Studies have shown that blue light improves alertness and mental performance … The researchers discovered that blue light, more so than the green light, seemed to stimulate and strengthen connections between areas of the brain involved in processing emotion and language.”

Resources:
*CNN October 27, 2010
*Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences November 9, 2010; 107(45):19549-54

Posted By Dr. Mercola | December 14 2010

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News on Health & Science

Grow Your Own Teeth

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Scientists have made teeth from stem cells in a world first that could make dentures a thing of the past.


They looked like normal teeth, were sensitive to pain and chewed food easily.
While the experiments were on mice, they pave the way for people to ‘grow their own teeth’ as required.

The new tooth at full size, seen at the back of the mouse’s mouth.
The technique could also be adapted to other organs, allowing hearts, lungs and kidneys to be grown inside the body to replace parts worn by age or damaged by disease.
The Japanese study focused on stem cells – ‘master cells’ with the ability to turn into other cell types.

The researchers from the Tokyo University of Science identified two types of stem cell, which together contain all the instructions for a fully grown tooth.
The cells were grown in the laboratory for five days until they formed a tiny tooth ‘bud’.
This was then transplanted deep into the jawbone of a mouse that had had a tooth removed.
Five weeks later, the tip of the tooth broke through the gum. And after seven weeks, it was fully-grown, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.
The researchers, who repeated the experiment many times, also showed that the new, bioengineered teeth were fully-functional.

Dr Kazuhisa Nakao said: ‘Every bio- engineered tooth erupted through the gum and had every tooth component such as dentine, enamel, pulp, blood vessels, nerve fibres, crown and root.’
Importantly, the rodent recipients had no trouble eating.
The cells used were take from mouse embryos, but the researchers believe it should be possible to make teeth from other types of cell as well.
They are now looking for suitable cells in people. Possibilities include skin cells and cells from the pulp inside teeth.

They also have to work out how to control the size of the bio-engineered teeth, as those grown in the experiments were slightly smaller than usual.
The process would also have to be speeded up if it was to be used on people as human teeth take years to form.

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However, the pioneering technology could one day allow those with teeth missing to fill the gaps in their smile without having to resort to false teeth, bridges or synthetic implants.
Experts believe that using ‘living’ teeth rather than artificial ones would be better for oral health and may also provide a more natural ‘bite’. Bio- engineered teeth are likely to cost around £2,000 each – a similar price to the implants used at the moment.
But Britain’s 11 million denture wearers should not throw away their fixative creams and gels quite yet.

The technology is still at a very early stage and the Japanese researchers believe it will not be widely used by dentists for at least 15 years. Despite this, British experts said it was an important landmark.

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, a stem cell researcher at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, said the work was ‘excellent’ and highlighted the promise of using bio-engineering to make complex structures.

But he cautioned that the researchers had yet to find cells suitable for use in people.
Professor Damien Walmsley, of the British Dental Association, said: ‘If you lose a tooth at the moment, one of the options is a metal implant. If you could have a natural replacement, that would be good.’

Natural-looking replacements-also have massive psychologicalbenefits for self-conscious patients.
The technique of creating cell ‘buds’ could be applied more widely to grow other organs, such as hearts, kidneys and livers, inside the body.
Lead researcher Professor Takashi Tsuji said: ‘The ultimate goal of regenerative therapy is to develop fully-functioning bioengineered organs that can replace lost or damaged organs following disease, injury or ageing.
‘Our study makes a substantial contribution to the development of bio- engineering technology for future organ replacement therapy.’

Source:Mailonline. Dated: Aug.4.2009.

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Naps with Dreams Improve Performance

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………..

Researchers led by Sara C. Mednick, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, gave 77 volunteers tests under three before- and-after conditions: spending a day without a nap, napping without REM sleep, and napping with REM sleep. Just spending the day away from the problem improved performance; people whostayed awake did a little better on the 5 p.m. session than they had done on the 9 a.m. test. Taking a nap without REM sleep also led to slightly better results. But a nap that included REM sleep resulted in nearly a 40 percent improvement over the pre-nap performance.

Source:
The study is published June 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Problems are Solved by Sleeping

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Sleeping on a problem really can help solve it, say scientists who found a dreamy nap boosts creative powers.

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They tested whether “incubating” a problem allowed a flash of insight, and found it did, especially when people entered a phase of sleep known as REM.

Volunteers who had entered REM or rapid eye movement sleep – when most dreams occur – were then better able to solve a new problem with lateral thinking.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has published the US work.

We propose that REM sleep is important for assimilating new information into past experience to create a richer network of associations for future use
The study authors

In the morning of the test day, 77 volunteers were given a series of creative problems to solve and were told to mull over the problem until the afternoon either by resting but staying awake or by taking a nap monitored by the scientists.

Compared with quiet rest and non-REM sleep, REM sleep increased the chances of success on the problem-solving task.

The study at the University of California San Diego showed that the volunteers who entered REM during sleep improved their creative problem solving ability by almost 40%.

The findings suggest it is not merely sleep itself, or the passage of time, that is important for the problem solving, but the quality of sleep.

Lead researcher Professor Sara Mednick said: “We found that, for creative problems you’ve already been working on, the passage of time is enough to find solutions.

“However for new problems, only REM sleep enhances creativity.”

The researchers believe REM sleep allows the brain to form new nerve connections without the interference of other thought pathways that occur when we are awake or in non-dream-state sleep.

“We propose that REM sleep is important for assimilating new information into past experience to create a richer network of associations for future use,”…… they told PNAS.

Dr Malcolm von Schantz of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey said: “Whatever the importance of the dreams themselves are, this paper confirms the importance of REM sleep, the sleep stage when most of our dreaming takes place.”

Source:BBC NEWS, 9Th. June’09

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