Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to fight mental aging process

Exercise may tackle and slow down senile memory and cognitive disorders which are indistinguishable from Alzheimer's, researchers say.

Scientists have not achieved an accurate definition to distinguish Alzheimer's and the normal aging process; however several differences are identified.

Alzheimer's kills neurons and therefore the cells and their connections disappear, while during a normal aging, cells become less connected and experience a harder time sending messages.

Moreover, Alzheimer's is believed to target a different spot in the hippocampus, the brain's memory center. Aging process is inevitable but researchers in the University of Illinois' Center for Healthy Minds have told AP that it could be slowed down using a variety of methods; neither of which is totally approved.

Physical exercise is the best-proven prescription so far. Studies have shown starting exercise at any age may increase brain activity patterns. Other options are not well-studied; brain-training games from doing crossword puzzles to various computer-based brain-training programs have been recommended to keep brain sharp. Scientists believe some medication can also be helpful.

Animal studies have indicated promising effects from guanfacine, low-dose estrogen and drugs that might mimic or ramp up brain signaling.