The potential economic benefit of trained mathematicians and scientists may be obvious to policy makers, and as scientists we can appreciate this. It can be difficult to envision how a third grader's piano lessons will lead to future economic gains; however, the hidden benefits of language and music training on cognitive health and brain function should not be overlooked. It's time to put what's "extra" back into the curriculum and embrace arts programming in schools as an essential part of building and maintaining cognitive health both in the present and into the future.
It's frightening to learn that almost 70 per cent of new Alzheimer's sufferers will be women, but research today still focuses on men. Even today, at the grass roots level of research, it is the male rat that's studied because the hormones in the female rat make it too complex.That really got me thinking: if this is something Canadian women think about then obviously so do women all over the world. So the Women's Brain Health Initiative was born.
The boundary between human and machine is softening. The first cyborgs have emerged -- much sooner than scientists would have predicted 30 years ago. We used to think having a device implanted in your skull made you a cyborg and wearing a pair of digital glasses did not. But to the brain, the distinction is arbitrary. Soon we may really have to answer the question: where does "me" end, and "my machine" begin?
Thirty years ago a scientist named Stan Prusiner coined a new word -- prion -- which turns out to be a protein molecule that's misfolded. In many neurodegenerative conditions, something triggers misfolding. If you can interrupt that, then you stop the formation of plaques. If you stop plaque formation in a human brain, you could prevent Alzheimer's, or at least delay it.
It was only a matter of time, of course, before the health and fitness industry discovered its next big thing. "Brain fitness" is the new fad -- and not only among the aging baby boomers. So far, the diagnosis relies solely on the observation of its symptoms, as opposed to a genuine understanding of the actual causes.
The idea of exercise as a tool for brain development should be very attractive to anyone involved in education. A simple way to benefit from this idea would be to use exercise as a "primer" to enhance your brain's ability to function. This is such a simple concept that is rarely utilized in our busy world.