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!

- SD


  1. The Takeaway is the best!

  2. Great blog! I just got started on my personal fitness blog. I go trail running often, I'll have to drop by to keep up with what you're doing.

    Good reading. :)

  3. Good to meet you, Tim and John! And thanks for the poem. I'm glad to hear you guys are getting outside.

    Cheers, SD

  4. Hi Scott!

    I´m writting from Patagonia Argentina! How about an Ultra here?
    Come on! Join us!!

    Take care and happy trails!

  5. That is amazing at 80 and still brilliant. Maybe he can pass on how to memorize for test taking to our kids. Getting them to run, heck just getting them out of bed is a feat in its own.

  6. I knew that doing some aerobic exercises such as jogging will help to improve memory. Your post gave me further evidence that it really works. Keeping a daily routine of running should be the thing to do to keep the brain kicking.


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