Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Old Beagles Brains Bouncing Back

A study published in the January 2005 issue of the journal Neurobiology of Aging reported that a combination of a diet enriched with antioxidants, physical activity and mental stimulation was protective against brain aging in beagles. The findings could have significant implications for humans because of the similarity between humans and dogs in brain structure, cognitive strategies and the processing of dietary nutrients, as well as in the decline in memory and learning that occurs with aging.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA’s Neuropsychology of Aging Branch program director, Molly Wagster, PhD, commented, “This research brings a note of optimism that there are things that we can do that may significantly improve our cognitive health. In this case, more was better. Although each factor alone was capable of improving cognitive function in older animals, the combination was additive, pointing to a healthy lifestyle as the most beneficial approach. While we have yet to demonstrate these benefits in people, research such as this gives us new ways to think about the aging brain and what we can do to keep it intact."

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