Thursday, February 21, 2008

Keeping your brain fit

Christine Larson wrote a very nice story for US News and World Report summarizing the latest research on brain aging and what you can do about it. Yes, I'm quoted, but that's not the main reason I liked it. She did an excellent job of summarizing a lot of confusing research without oversimplifying. Take-home messages: participate in a lot of different activities, including some that are difficult and some you really enjoy, especially socializing with other people. Oh, and don't forget to exercise...but you knew that already.


Unknown said...

Please tell me drinking red wine while eating dark chocolate helps too!
Catherine, the redhead

Sam Wang said...

Hi Catherine - in fact, those two things have been demonstrated to improve your cardiovascular health! Recently it's been shown that a square a day of dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure by several points. Moderate consumption of wine, particularly red wine, is protective of both brain and heart health as well.

Sam Wang said...

Peeznluv, thank you for your comment. The idea of environmental toxins playing a role in autism is very interesting, but right now the evidence isn't there. So I think it's premature to have the amount of confidence you express.

There is a line of research that seems much more promising, which is looking for genes that may contribute to autism risk. For instance, the risk of autism is much higher in identical twins, who share all the same genes, as in fraternal twins. This doesn't mean that autism has one gene - there is good evidence that it's more complex than that. We cover these ideas in our chapter on autism.