Saturday, April 15, 2006
Does ultrarunning improve memory skills? (article by Nobel laureate, James Watson)
Dr. James Watson, Nobel laureate and co-discoverer of the double helix, recently wrote an article for Seed Magazine that talked about the latest studies regarding memory loss. One study he cited showed may show that distance running can reduce memory loss.
Here's a quick recap of the article:
* Storage of new information in your brain is based on a process called "neurogenesis", which produces new neurons in your brain to store information.
* You've heard that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". It turns out that age does limit your ability to learn new things, because post-adolescence, the brain stops growing and neurogenesis only happens in the hippocampus (where memories are formed). A key part of retaining the ability to learn is to maximize the rate with which we can generate new neurons (nerve cells) as we get older.
* An experiment with mice has shown that when mice use treadmills to run long distances each day, they make new nerve cells at double the rate of their sedentary peers. This had yet to be tested on humans, but it is encouraging.
Please do go read Dr. Watson's article here. Even when he's pushing 80 years of age, he proves to be one of the most thought-provoking scientists of our time. Now if we can just get him to sign up for an ultra. ;-)
Takeaway - can't remember what to do today? Then GO RUN!