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On the Brain: Weightlifting for the mind
January 19th, 2011
05:41 PM ET

On the Brain: Weightlifting for the mind

This week there's exciting new research on the brain's response to stress (bad) and weight lifting (good), as well as dementia, ADHD, and Alzheimer's.

Lifting weights may improve brain function
There's been quite a bit of evidence that aerobic activity can help with cognition and perhaps even delay dementia, but what about weight-lifting? Evidence from studies - mostly on animals such as mice - suggests that pumping iron can also improve memory and thinking, the New York Times reports. The results are "encouraging," one researcher says, that this will translate into humans.

The ups and downs of stress
Stress can be both good and bad for the brain, researchers report in the Journal of Neuroscience. On the one hand, if you believe you are in danger, this makes you more sensitive to your environment. But at the same time, it may hinder your ability to do complex thinking, Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, tells the school's news service. This dampening of decision-making capabilities is yet another reason you should try to control stress.

Dementia and ADHD
There may be a connection between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dementia. A study in the European Journal of Neurology looked at a specific condition called "dementia with lewy bodies," which refer to protein deposits inside nerve cells that can impair brain functioning. Scientists found that people with this condition are more likely to have had ADHD than the general population. Read more from HealthDay via USA Today.

Unclogging arteries
You probably know about stents for heart attack patients, but now scientists are finding that they may also be used in the brain. After traditional stroke treatments fail, stents could clear blockages in the brain's arteries. But this is still at the experimental stage, and the study only used 19 participants. Read more from HealthDay via Bloomberg Businessweek.

Tracking Alzheimer's
The only way to know for sure whether someone had Alzheimer's disease is in an autopsy. Now there's talk of a test for living patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will consider a new diagnostic test involving a brain scan to identify signature plaques, CNN reports.


soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Peace2All

    Good news...! I have always have clearer and sharper from weight-lifting activities.

    Peace...

    January 20, 2011 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peace2All

      *always feel clearer and sharper after having lifted weights.

      Peace...

      January 20, 2011 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
  2. jas419

    Yet more reasons to head to the gym 🙂

    January 20, 2011 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. jillmarie

    This is great news about weight-lifting, which I do 4-5 days a week. But what I want to know is- how did they study mice? They can't lift weights, obviously. I'd like to know the specifics of how they measured them.

    January 20, 2011 at 17:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Max Wallack

    Mental exercise can make a real difference also. Research at Rush University shows that keeping cognitively active can greatly prolong the time in which an Alzheimer's patient remains cognitively functional in society. For this reason, I founded my PuzzlesToRemember.org, a 501c3 organization that collects puzzles and distributes them to facilities that care for Alzheimer's patients. Together with Springbok puzzles (SpringbokCares.com) we have also created puzzles made specifically to meet the needs of Alzheimer's patients.

    January 20, 2011 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. SoundGuy

    What about binaural beats as a mechanism to exercise the brain itself? Supposedly this kind of passive brainwave entertainment is able to synch your brainwaves to desired states of mind (calm, relaxed, concentrated, etc). They also talk about left-right brain hemisphere balancing. You can read more about it here: http://www.transcendentaltones.com.

    January 21, 2011 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. cindychicago

    Finally safe way to abrade stretch marks at home http://www.medicalcrystals.com

    January 21, 2011 at 04:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. kirk horton

    I use Play Attention (playattention.com) to keep sharp. Neurofeedback device allows me to control the computer by mind alone. Pretty cool. I work on cognitive skills to stay sharp. I even use it before I play tennis.

    January 21, 2011 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mike

    @Jillmarie: They created "weightlifting" mice by attaching weights to their tails and having them climb up a vertical ladder and also using a exercise wheel rigged to have resistance when it spins. Both methods made the mice's legs work harder thus increasing their muscle mass.... seriously, that's what they did 🙂

    January 23, 2011 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. stephanie

    I don't understand what is new here. It has long been known that exercise improves blood flow to the brain and can increase your alertness and sense of well being.
    Exercise has never been just about the body.

    October 1, 2011 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.