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New study finds that older Americans may improve memory by exercising their brains and bodies

to promote physical fitness, which has been found to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's Disease.

  • Stress Reduction Participants used stretching and relaxation exercises to manage stress. Stress causes the body to release cortisol, which plays an important role in memory preservation. Cortisol can impair memory and has been found to shrink the memory centers in the brain.
  • In the control group, subjects did not make any behavior modifications.

    Immediately before and after the 14-day study, each participant's brain function was tested using positron emission tomorgraphy (PET) scans to measure activity throughout the brain. After the 14-day study, participants following the memory improvement plan recorded a 5% decrease in brain metabolism in the dorsal lateral prefrontal region of the brain, which is directly linked to working memory and other cognitive functions, suggesting that they were using their brain more efficiently. Furthermore, these subjects reported improved memory, and demonstrated better performance on a cognitive measure controlled by this same brain region.

    "Most people do not realize that they are in control of their memory as they get older," declared Dr. Small, "But this research demonstrates that it is possible, in just 14 days, to make simple lifestyle changes that will not only improve memory and brain function, but also will improve overall health and wellness."

    The next step in this research is to better understand the specific effect of each individual component of the memory improvement plan to determine which combination of healthy lifestyle strategies produces optimal results.


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    Contact: Jessica Rowlands
    jrowlands@gymr.com
    202-745-5059
    GYMR
    12-Dec-2005


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