Do what younger people do – and you reverse ageing in the brain
You may be able to ‘reverse time’ – making your brain younger – by doing the sort of things that younger people usually do. When we perform the typical functions that society expects of us – age-appropriate behaviour – we aid the ageing process, researchers believe.
Changes that we make to our behaviour could be a better way than drugs for treating dementia and Alzheimer’s and other age-related cognitive problems, say researchers from Arizona State University.
Carrying out activities that are usually performed by younger people, and learning new skills, changes the molecular structure of the brain of older people, they suggest.
However, their findings are thus far limited to experiments with honeybees. They discovered that the bees quickly aged when they started foraging for food for the new generation of bees that had recently been born. However, when they tricked the bees to instead stay in the hive and look after the newborn, around half had significantly increased their ability to learn new things.
This change was also mirrored in physical changes to the bees’ brains - proteins that protect against dementia in humans were activated as the bees learned new skills
(Source: Experimental Gerontology, 2012; in preparation for publication).