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The Myth of the Dying Brain Cells

22 June 2012, 18:27

This is one of the most devastating myths that causes untold misery to millions of people. Imagine what happens when your boss looks at a younger man or woman to replace you because you have reached 60.

Never mind that you have a heck of a lot more experience, that you have proved over and over that you are honest and reliable, that she will have to train the new recruit in the ways of the company – you must make way for the younger person because you’ve “lost too many brain cells!” Unfair no?

But wait, it gets worse: what happens if you yourself believe that you’re losing millions of brain cells every day to the place in the sky where all good brain cells go? How motivated and optimistic could you possibly be if you believe such BS? You would think, “Oh no! I can’t compete with these youngsters… They must have a lot more brain cells than me!”

 Unfortunately this stupid belief is very prevalent. We retire people at 65 and yet vote for people over 70 to run our country! How crazy is that?

 The truth is that recent studies have shown that mental decline amounts to only 5-15% over a lifetime and starts at age 20.

 All these studies look at the average decline in a group of people. The problem is the scientists don’t look at the top group of people that are not following the trend and is above average in that their brains actually improve with age. They don’t look at this group because they mess up the “norm”.

So let us look at them: what kind of people’s brains actually improve with age?

 They’re interested in learning

  • They’re all optimistic with a balanced, positive outlook
  • They’re all active – physically, mentally, emotionally, sensually and sexually
  • The majority have a great sense of humour
  • They tend to teach
  • They consider themselves wealthy

 So the good news for me is that I have all of those characteristics, and I’m modest as well, so 120 here I come...

Look at the list and decide which of them you are a bit short of and then work to improve that aspect of your life. (For instance, if you are not as sexually active as you used to be, don’t be scared to try out a recreational drug  like Levitra!).

So what about Alzheimer’s? I hear you ask. That surely is a disease of old age where the brain cells die off?” In

The Age Heresy the authors say:

Recent research suggests that stimulating the mind with mental exercise may cause brain cells, called neurons, to branch wildly…’Think of it…as a computer with a bigger memory board.’

“The capacity of the brain to change offers new hope for preventing and treating brain diseases. It helps to explain why some people can  

·         Delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms for years. Studies show that the more educated a person is, the less likely he or she is to show symptoms of the disease. The reason: intellectual activity develops surplus brain tissue that compensates for the tissue damage by the disease.

·         Make a better recovery from strokes…even when areas of the brain are permanently damaged by a stroke, new message routes can be created to get around the road block or to resume the function of the area.”

So forget about your brain cells dying off by the million. It simply is not true.

For science-based brain exercises please do yourself a favour and go to . This marvellous programme was developed by researchers at Stanford, UCSF, Harvard, and Columbia, among other prestigious universities. They also work with numerous health care organizations to provide cognitive training services. It is not only fun, but you can check your progress on a daily basis and against people of the same age as yours.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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