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According to researchers, daily caffeine can protect your brain.

Coffee may cut the risk of dementia by blocking the damage cholesterol can inflict on the body, research suggests.

A study by Jonathan D. Geiger, PhD, at the University of North Dakota used the equivalent of one daily cup of coffee in experiments on rabbits.

(I’m wondering, did the rabbits hang around a cafe tapping away at their smart phones while they had their coffee?)

A vital barrier between the brain and the main blood supply of rabbits fed a fat-rich diet was protected in those given a caffeine supplement.

After 12 weeks of a high-cholesterol diet, the blood brain barrier in those given caffeine was far more intact than in those given no caffeine.

Cuts down on the leaks

The “blood brain barrier” is a filter which protects the central nervous system from potentially harmful chemicals carried around in the rest of the bloodstream.

Studies have shown that high levels of cholesterol in the blood can make this barrier “leaky”.

Alzheimer’s researchers suggest this makes the brain vulnerable to damage which can trigger or contribute to the condition.

A safe drug

“Caffeine appears to block several of the disruptive effects of cholesterol that make the blood-brain barrier leaky,” said Dr Geiger, “High levels of cholesterol are a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps by compromising the protective nature of the blood brain barrier.”

You can read more about the study at the BBC news site.

So grab a cup of coffee. And if you want something to do during this well deserved break, click on this link to our web site and see if there’s a game that would keep you amused while you sip your healthy java.

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Top Health Sites

Many athletes talk about the “runners high,” the feeling of euphoria that they get after a run or an intense workout.

Does physical exercise actually have real biochemical effects on the brain?

The New York Times wrote about a study which found that more endorphins are released into the brain during demanding, endurance exercise. Endorphins are the brain’s naturally occurring opiates.

It’s true.

Dr. Henning Boecker of the University of Bonn in Germany, reports in the current issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex that it is true: Running elicits a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect.

Dr. Boecker and colleagues recruited ten distance runners, using PET scans to compare runners’ brains before and after a long run. The data showed that, indeed, endorphins were produced during running and were attaching themselves to areas of the brain associated with emotions, in particular the limbic and prefrontal areas.

The limbic and prefrontal areas, Dr. Boecker said, are activated when people are involved in romantic love affairs for example. The more endorphins in their brain, the greater the euphoria the runners reported.

That explains why runners love to run.

It’s amazing. You see runners out in the freezing cold, the rain, the snow. Nothing stops them.

In the meantime, excuse me, but I need to go for a run. See ya in a couple of hours, dude.

There’s more details of his study here.

If you can’t get out for a run right now, maybe a casual, brain stimulating game will release some endorphins. Can’t guarantee it but it can’t hurt either. Here’s our web site: braingamessoftware.com

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Free radicals – those are the toxins that clog up your brain.

Sure, it’s a good idea to keep your brain stimulated through various mental and physical activities. But it’s also important to keep it from getting clogged up with all those nasty “free radicals” that are always floating around in your body.

Antioxidant food sources

Antioxidants – which are found in certain foods – work by neutralizing these highly reactive, destructive free radicals.

Usually, the body’s natural defense systems neutralize free radicals that develop, rendering them harmless. However, environmental assaults on the body, such as UV-radiation, pollutants and alcohol, can overpower the body’s ability to neutralize free radicals, allowing them to cause cell damage.

The best source of antioxidants is fresh food like fruits, vegetables, grains and, preferably uncooked food because cooking removes some of the antioxidants. Here are some good sources for four of the most common antioxidants:

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in all body fluids. This powerful antioxidant cannot be stored by the body, so it’s important to get some regularly — not a difficult task if you eat fruits and vegetables.

  • Citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, raw cabbage and potatoes.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be stored with fat in the liver and other tissues. Vitamin E is promoted for a range of purposes including delaying aging.

  • Wheat germ, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and fish-liver oil.

Beta-carotene is a form of vitamin A, which protects dark green, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits from solar radiation damage and may play a similar role in the body.

  • Carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots.

Selenium is a mineral that fights cell damage. Get your selenium from food because large doses of supplements can be toxic.

  • Fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic.

garlic.jpg

You can’t go wrong with garlic – it’s great for your brain, your immune system and your cooking.

Visit our website sometime. braingamessoftware.com You can’t eat these games but they are fun to play.

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If that’s true then help me find the other 90%.

Or maybe that’s a myth.

This is an idea that goes back to early 1800’s, often promoted by the phrenologists who thought that specific human behaviors and characteristics could be deduced by the pattern and size of bumps on the skull.

This was a hotly debated topic: some believed that brain function could be localized to particular regions of the brain and others believed that the brain acted as a whole.

Dr. Eric Chudler, a behavioral neurophysiologist, and Research Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Washington, wrote a well researched article that refutes the 10% concept.

The myth started 100 years ago and has stuck.

A prominent researcher, Karl Spencer Lashley (1890-1958), believed that memory was not dependent on a specific part of the cerebral cortex. Rather the loss of memory was proportional to the amount of cerebral cortex that was removed.

He showed that the ability of rats to solve simple tasks, such as mazes and visual discrimination tests, were not affected by large cerebral cortical lesions. As long as a certain amount of cortex remained, the rats appeared normal on the tests he did.

Those experiments led to the belief that only a small portion of the brain is used.

Next thing you know prominent people were supporting the idea that we don’t use much of our brain’s capacity – folks like physicist Albert Einstein and anthropologist Margaret Mead.

Who’s counting!

Give or take a few, there’s about 100 billion neurons in the human brain. Plus there’s another ten to fifty times that number of glial cells in the brain.

Would you behave normally without 90 billion neurons and billions of glial cells? Would you be just fine if 90% of your brain was removed?

Scientists have proven this 10% idea is a myth.

Brain imaging (positron emission tomography scans or PET scans) show that much of your brain is active while you perform different tasks.

You can develop disabilities as a result of damage to small areas of your brain, such as those caused by strokes. And some neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease also affect only specific areas of the brain. Damage to even a small part of the brain seems to have significant effects.

Evolution wouldn’t work this way either.

From an evolutionary perspective, it is unlikely that a brain that is 90% useless would develop. The brain is an expensive organ to maintain and utilizes a large supply of the body’s energy resources.

Dr. Chudler’s conclusion? There is no hidden storehouse of untapped brain power. We use all of our brain.

Dr. Chudler’s article appeared on the Brain Connection website:
http://www.brainconnection.com/

Also, The Brain Blog written by Michael Merzenich, PhD is a good read.

And don’t let those 100 billion neurons sit around idly. They could be solving some of these tough puzzles available on our website: braingamessoftware.com

phrenology.jpg

By the way, those wacky phrenologists not only thought they could read the bumps on your skull, but they would write all over your head. Warning: take them off your medical provider list.

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If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to be a dog, this book is for you.


“Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know” is a new book by Alexandra Horowitz that shows what the world is like from a dog’s point of view.

It may be the first neurological study of dogs.

Horowitz writes that their sense of smell, hearing and vision shape their perception of their surroundings.

Creatures of the nose.

Dogs have extraordinary sense of smell. A beagle nose has 300 million receptor sites, for example, compared with the six million that we have.  And they can smell things continuously because of their snout design.

We have exhale before we can inhale fresh air.  On the other hand, dogs pull air deeper into their nose as well as exhaling some air through the side slits in their snout.  So dogs can hold a scent longer than we can and they can continuously refresh what they smell without interruption.

The nose knows.

Not only do dogs detect odors better than us but this continuous sniffing provides them with a sense of time based on the strengthening and weakening of the odor.

For example a dog senses a familiar odor ahead (usually a spray of some dog’s urine), it grows stronger as the dog approaches and grows weaker as the dog moves on.  This gives a dog a sense of the passage of time.

Seeing more.

A dog’s vision also affects its sense of time.

Dogs have a higher “flicker fusion” rate than we do, which is the rate at which retinal cells can process incoming light, that is “the number of snapshots of the world that the eye takes in every second.”

This is one of the reasons dogs respond so well to subtle human facial reactions: “They pay attention to the slivers of time between our blinks.”

It also explains why dogs are so good at grabbing a Frisbee or a tennis ball right out of the air.  Horowitz says that dogs are not only seeing the world faster than we do but actually seeing a little more of it each second.

Dogs with long noses, those bred for hunting or herding, have photo¬receptors clustered along a horizontal band spanning the middle of the eye. This is called a visual streak, and those dogs “have better panoramic, high-quality ¬vision, and much more peripheral vision than humans.”

Responding to your tone.

We know that dogs hear high pitched sounds that we can’t hear.  But their ability to pinpoint where a sound is coming from is not as good as ours.  Their hearing helps them find the general direction of a sound and then their acute sight and sense of smell take over.

And dogs don’t really understand exactly what you are saying when you say “sit.”  They are responding to the “prosody” (the patterns of stress and intonation in a language).  High-pitched sounds mean something different than low sounds; rising sounds contrast with falling sounds,” Horowitz writes.

Dogs respond to baby talk “partially because it distinguishes speech that is directed at them from the rest of the continuous yammering above their heads.”

From wolves to pets.

While dogs are descendants of wolves they’ve discarded many of their traits along the way.  For example they don’t form packs and they hunt individually rather than cooperatively.

And unlike wolves, dogs will look you in the eye.  Horowitz writes that dogs seem to be predisposed to inspect our faces for information, for reassurance, for guidance.

insideadog

Here’s a good description of the book and a short video at Simon and Schuster, the publisher’s site.

One thing is for sure, despite a strong sense of smell, super vision and hearing, dogs are just not ever going to be good at playing games on their PC’s.  So exercise some of your human superiority and show your pet what a wiz you are a gaming.  There are lots of them at our website, Brain Games Software.

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You keep losing your keys, forgetting appointments, you don’t remember someone’s name, your brain feels a bit fried.

Is this a bad sign?


The bad news is that as we get older many of us suffer from declining mental facilities.   By the time people get into their 70′s there is a pretty good chance of suffering a decline.

One in three American’s over 71 years old have some diminished mental function.

A study by Duke University Medical Center, published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that 22% (5.4 million people) of that population have begun to see their mental facilities decline.

Add that to a previous estimate of 3.4 million Americans with full dementia and that exceeds one third of the 25 million Americans over 71 years old. That’s more than eight million people.

Is one in three of us doomed to lose our mental capacities?

There’s plenty you can do to try to avoid that fate. Here’s some commonly recommended activities that can help to keep your brain fit.

Top Ten Brain Fitness Techniques:

  1. Play games. Try the challenging ones like Sudoku, crosswords, and mind teasers. Great mental stimulation and good for relieving stress.
  2. Eat the right fat. Stick with the healthy Omega-3 fats like salmon, nuts, flax seed and olive oil.
  3. Exercise. Physical exercise gets your blood pumping into your brain and feeds it healthy oxygen.
  4. Learn a new skill. Learning a language, or woodworking or how to cook can work out a different part of your brain and keep you stimulated.
  5. Change your habits. Break out of your daily routine and do something you normally don’t do like take a walk at lunch or go to the theater.
  6. Change your routine. If you are right handed, try using your left hand for simple tasks (I’m trying this now and it’s kind of hard!) Drive a different way to work. Anything that forces your brain to take notice that you are doing something different.
  7. Read. Not the same old stuff you normally read but something out of your regular area of interest. Read any history lately? Or science? It can open your mind up to new interests.
  8. Hang out. You need to be social, hang around your friends and get into lively discussions. Great for your brain and entertaining too.
  9. Write. You can write about anything – your childhood, vacations, work, dreams, or anything that pops into your head. It stimulates your mind and activates areas of the brain you may not be using. Who knows, maybe there’s a best seller locked up in that brain.
  10. Drink to your health. OK, within reason. A glass (for women) or two (for men) is the maximum recommended daily dose of alcohol. Drinking in moderation has healthful benefits such as fighting heart disease as well as relieving stress and may lower the risk of dementia. (The definition of a drink: 12 ounces (oz.) of beer, 5 oz. of wine or 1.5 oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits.)

That’s pretty easy. All-in-all, it’s kind of fun to change what you do every day and to discover new things.

Ready to start with a new game? Visit our site to see what’s new. Braingamessoftware.com

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Rosemary.  People have consumed it for over 1,000 years.
rosemary2
Any good cook will use it in an Italian dish. It grows like a weed in dry climates like the Mediterranean.

Plus, researchers describe it as the perfect drug to protect brain cells from the ravages of free radicals.

It’s good for your brain. How about that?

A collaborative group from the Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham Institute) in La Jolla, CA and in Japan, report that the herb rosemary contains an ingredient that fights off free radical damage in the brain.

The active ingredient in rosemary, known as carnosic acid (CA), protects the brain from stroke and neurodegeneration that is due to injurious chemical free radicals.

These radicals are thought to contribute not only to stroke and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, but also to the ill effects of normal aging on the brain.

Why is rosemary a “perfect” drug?

It seems that the carnosic acid is activated by the free radical damage itself. So the carnosic acid is only used when it’s actually needed. Technically this is a “pathological-activated therapeutic” which basically activates your body’s own defense system.

If you want more details, read this article in Science Daily.

If you want to cook with rosemary, here’s something tasty and authentically Italian:

Rosemary focaccia, from Gourmet Magazine.
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/106275

What better way to eat your brain healthy meds.

Or if you’re looking for a way to relax, playing a game is a good idea. There’s some good stress reliving games here: braingamessoftware.com.

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