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Good news for 'old' chess players

User Rating: / 18
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 15 June 2013
by GM Kevin Spraggett
Warning: his
blog is great, but some of the content is parental advisory

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The hippocampus is a small but important part of our brain, necessary for processing memories (short-term  and long-term)  and intricately related to the learning process.  Scientists have recently discovered that an area within this vital brain region actually regenerates up to 700 neurons a day, even as we get older.  This is going to change the way scientists look at the aging process.



Nuclear bomb tests carried out during the cold war have had an unexpected benefit. A radioactive carbon isotope expelled by the blasts has been used to date the age of adult human brain cells, providing the first definitive evidence that we generate new brain cells throughout our lives. The study also provides the first model of the dynamics of the process, showing that the regeneration of neurons does not drop off with age as sharply as expected

But looking at the hippocampus in 55 post-mortem brains aged between 19 and 92, the team has now found that a subset of neurons in an area of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus are indeed created throughout adulthood. In effect, a small population of our brain cells remains permanently young, renewing itself continually. By modelling the process, the team estimated that we generate around 700 new neurons every day


Lasker, Smyslov and Korchnoi continued to play worldclass chess despite advancing age

This news radically changes the accepted scientific opinion that I had heard all of my life, namely that as we get older our brain becomes increasingly limited in its capacities, mostly because of the number of brain cells dieing.  While the most recent study does not deny that many brain cells die and are never renewed, that part of the brain that is so necessary for chessplayers actually sees neurons being replaced daily!

So look out, youngsters!  Dont count me out yet!

Editor's note: we have asked D.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics Vladimir Zhdanov to provide a succinct & informal commentary on the New Scientist article.

The fact  that "a small population of our brain cells remains permanently young, renewing itself continually" has been well known and widely accepted for 15 or 20 years already. I have not read, however, about the method they used. The method seems to be reasonable. The results obtained appear to be reasonable as well.

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Comments (2)
1. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 17:54 15 2013 .
Expert on the floor but bouncing happily
Thank God the body rejuvenates so that I can continue to compete and enjoy this game. For those numerous fans who never got close to \"world class,\" who age relentlessly yet enjoy the game long after the decline, I say again, Thank God for chess.
2. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 00:45 16 2013 .
Good news for me (74) too :)

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