Million dollar brains–even old ones

Clint Eastwood is getting old–and aren’t we the beneficiaries? Saw “Million Dollar Baby” last night. The flood of thoughts and observations I experienced set me to wondering what modern science is saying these days about aging brains.

Old wives’–or should we say old scientists’–tales about aging brains losing tons of neurons have now been proven to be just that–tales. But “Use it or lose it” says a distinguished professor of anatomy at U.C. Berkeley. Funded by a grant and writing for the research section of the magazine Aging, she says challenging your brain results in it expanding, both physically and in chemical activity.

Oh, and guess what else keeps your brain healthy and extends life TLC–yep, that’s right. Hugs. Social interaction. Friends. Fun. And if the rodents they tested this stuff on are any model, it doesn’t take much. All the researchers changed was that instead of picking the rats up by the tail (standard practice) they hugged them against their chests for “a few moments.”

Thought Eastwood getting old was a nice subject for my first entry on that “sinister cabal” of folks over at Blogcritics (we’re linked to them from here now). Brace yourself–there’s a lot to read there.