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CBS News/TIME Series on Brain Neuroplasticity and Memory Exercises

CBS News and TIME mag­a­zine are team­ing up for a five-part series on the “The Com­pli­cated, Mes­mer­iz­ing World of the Brain”. The first report by CBS Evening News con­trib­u­tor Dr. San­jay Gupta focused on neu­ro­plas­tic­ity – “the brain’s abil­ity to reor­ga­nize itself by cre­at­ing new brain cells through men­tal and phys­i­cal exercises.”

Dr. Gupta inter­viewed Arthur Kramer, Ph.D., a pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois who stud­ied the effects of exer­cise, diet, and social and men­tal stim­u­la­tion on older adults. Accord­ing to Kramer, the break through anti-aging treat­ment is exercise.

We found in our study that walk­ing will increase the vol­ume of the brain, increase the effi­ciency of the brain and increase improve­ments in the num­ber of cog­ni­tive func­tions such as mem­ory and attention.

Kramer and McAuley’s research showed that aer­o­bic exer­cise led to increased brain vol­ume in the pre­frontal and tem­po­ral cor­tices – areas that show con­sid­er­able age-related deterioration.

To go beyond phys­i­cal exer­cise and look at men­tal exer­cise, Dr. Gupta also inter­viewed Michael Merzenich, Ph.D. of UCSF and Posit Sci­ence. Merzenich said, “The brain is actu­ally revis­ing itself. It is actu­ally plas­ti­cally chang­ing itself as you develop new skills and abil­i­ties, as you learn new things.” Merzenich has been study­ing neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and how the brain changes with expe­ri­ence since the 1980s.

To Catch the Series, Here’s the Sched­ule:

  • Wednes­day, Jan. 17, CBS Evening News (6:30–7 p.m. ET): Con­trib­u­tor Dr. San­jay Gupta exam­ines the rev­o­lu­tion­ary new field of neu­ro­plas­tic­ity – the brain’s abil­ity to reor­ga­nize itself by cre­at­ing new brain cells through men­tal and phys­i­cal exercises.
  • Thurs­day, Jan. 18, The Early Show (7–9 a.m. ET/PT): National Cor­re­spon­dent Tracy Smith fol­lows up on the story of Sarah Scant­lin, a woman who was in a veg­e­ta­tive state for 20 years and then mirac­u­lously began to speak in 2005. While she was unable to speak or vol­un­tar­ily move her limbs dur­ing those two decades, doc­tors now believe she may have actu­ally heard what was going on around her.
  • Thurs­day, Jan. 18, CBS Evening News (6:30–7 p.m. ET): Tech­nol­ogy Cor­re­spon­dent Daniel Sieberg explains how new cutting-edge tech­nol­ogy is allow­ing blind peo­ple to “see” using their tongues.
  • Fri­day, Jan. 19, The Early Show (7–9 a.m. ET/PT): Cor­re­spon­dent Richard Roth reveals the lat­est details from an ongo­ing study on how babies make sense of the world around them.
  • Fri­day, Jan. 19, CBS Evening News (6:30–7 p.m. ET): An in-depth report on how chronic stress affects the brain, includ­ing research that says pro­longed psy­cho­log­i­cal stress can actu­ally wear down the ends of a person’s DNA.
  • Fri­day, Jan. 19, CBS Radio News: CBS Radio News will fea­ture an inter­view with Steven Pinker, a dis­tin­guished Har­vard pro­fes­sor and author of the Time mag­a­zine essay on the mys­ter­ies of con­scious­ness, which will be avail­able as an audio pod­cast on CBSNews.com. The CBS News Web site will also fea­ture on-demand video clips of all seg­ments, as well as extended inter­views not seen on tele­vi­sion. The series will run in con­junc­tion with Time mag­a­zine (on news­stands Fri­day, Jan. 19) and Time.com.

Fur­ther Read­ing
Glos­sary of Terms
The Muta­ble Brain
Smart Brains: New Research on How to Main­tain a Sharp Brain
Arti­cles on Brain Fit­ness
Rec­om­mended Brain Fit­ness Programs

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