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Brain Roundup

November 7, 2008

Web surfing helps keeps prevent mental decline in old age.


An island of calm in the brain. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Both drugs and psychotherapy can help patients feel calm, even in stressful situations. Now Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have found that in mice, the relaxation is caused by new cells that grow in a part of the brain called the dentate gyrus. Removing the new cells makes the anxiety return. Understanding the physical changes in the brain that lead to feelings of well-being and safety could lead to new treatments for anxiety.

In other brain news, UCLA scientists report that surfing the web is excellent brain exercise for older adults. In fact, for computer savvy users, the practice stimulated more areas of the brain than reading did. They conclude that becoming computer-literate and active on the web could help people stave off mental decline in old age.
I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.