behavior · brain · mental health · neuroscience · play · psychology

Playing leads to lower Alzheimer’s risk

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei...
Brain with Alzheimer's. Image via Wikipedia

From USA Today:

People who engage in activities such as reading and playing games throughout their lives may be lowering levels of a protein in their brains that is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, a new study suggests.

Although whether the buildup of the protein, beta amyloid, causes Alzheimer’s disease is debatable, it is a hallmark of the condition, the researchers noted.

“Staying cognitively active over the lifetime may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by preventing the accumulation of Alzheimer’s-related pathology,” said study author Susan Landau, a research scientist at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Some of the literature has hypothesized this finding, but this is the first study to report that lifetime cognitive activity is directly linked to amyloid deposition in the brain,” she said. “We think that cognitive activity is probably one of a variety of lifestyle practices — occupational, recreational and social activities — that may be important.”

Read more at Keeping brain sharp, active may ward off Alzheimer’s

There have been several different studies that find the correlation between play and a healthy brain less susceptible to dementia, disease, and overall decay. Literally use it or lose it. So you might as well have fun using it!

autism · brain · cognition · mental health · neuroscience

Gardening in the brain: Cells called microglia prune the connections between neurons, shaping how the brain is wired

Wow, speaking of mental flowers. Researchers have found that the brain has its own weeding/pruning capabilities:

Gardeners know that some trees require regular pruning: some of their branches have to be cut so that others can grow stronger. The same is true of the developing brain: cells called microglia prune the connections between neurons, shaping how the brain is wired, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory EMBL in Monterotondo, Italy, discovered. Published online in Science, the findings could one day help understand neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.

Microglia are related to the white blood cells that engulf pathogens and cellular debris, and scientists knew already that microglia perform that same clean-up task when the brain is injured, ‘swallowing up’ dead and dying neurons. Looking at the developing mouse brain under the microscope, Gross and colleagues found proteins from synapses — the connections between neurons — inside microglia, indicating that microglia are able to engulf synapses too.

more via Gardening in the brain: Cells called microglia prune the connections between neurons, shaping how the brain is wired.

Now I have some high standards to live up to; making this blog act like a proverbial brain cleaner!

Original paper: European Molecular Biology Laboratory (2011, July 22). Gardening in the brain: Cells called microglia prune the connections between neurons, shaping how the brain is wired. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/07/110721142410.htm