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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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