To all somanauts and neuronauts!
The Twitter for the hour: 2008 The Year of the Brain… Wow! What a Year!
We are now reaching the end of 2008 and the Year of the Brain has ushered in some stunning discoveries!
In recent days, the news over the web has taken on great evolutionary proportions: Brains from the Iron Age have survived!: “The oldest surviving human brain in Britain, dating back at least 2000 years to the Iron Age, has been unearthed during excavations on the site of the University of York’s campus expansion at Heslington East.”
I wonder what kind of meditation, exercise or powerbars these guys used to keep their brains alive?
And then there was the updated story of how synapses actually came to “be,” putting a new evolutionary spin on brain growth in pre-vertebrates! (Check out the Genes to Cognition project run by Seth Grant at Cambridge University).
All in all, the story of the brain continues to stretch into new directions, helping us understand central questions about how we became “human,” and how we’re going to manage that phenomenon in this new century.
To that point… at the outset of 2008 Dr. John Ratey published his book SPARK!, a medical manifesto claiming exercise not only pumps the heart but helps to “fertilize” the neurogenerative proclivities of brain, to use Ratey’s terminology. Ratey’s book has lots of juicy chapters on the role aerobic exercise and especially the neurotransmitter BDNF plays in growing new neural networks and thus stabilizing attention, curbing anxiety, mediating addiction, balancing hormones and preventing early aging; in Ratey’s view (backed up by others in the field of neuroscience) exercise is a seemingly cure all for the human condition. The good doc’s brain fitness program of choice: Running.
As one dedicated to helping others advance in their goals for neurosomatic fitness, I applaud Ratey’s effort. But for those who are physically unable or feel no inclination to strap on the running shoes (remember, there’s personal and cultural movement style to consider along with permanent disability), it might be worth exploring other kinds of relevant movement activity that calls for “immersive attention” and changes the heart, brain and mind!
Given the dark hours of the northern hemisphere, consider afternoon walks or Qi Gong when office brain drain begins. In the southern hemisphere, why not follow my friend Phil George and take to the great waters of the Pacific to board or body surf?
And the good news to come: Considering recent studies on the use of rhythm in transforming the brains of Parkinson’s patients, along with the NIH studies showing the positive effects of meditative movement practices, e.g, yoga and the Martial arts, on lowering stress, I suspect we’ll start to see some brain stimulating, heart pumping, neuroscience evidence on neurosomatics coming our way! And if Ratey’s own work is any indication, the studies of meditative movement will no doubt include a strong focus on the relations of movement practice in shaping our ability to “attend.”
More to come from spacesuityoga.com in 2009. Look for my blogs at my new GGI website, soon to launch!
Tags: Advances in Neuroscience, BDNF and neurogenesis, Evolution of the synapse, exercise and ADD, exercise and addiction, exercise and anti-aging, exercise and neurotransmitters, exercise for the brain, Iron Man's brain, John Ratey, Neuroplasticity, Neuroscience of Attention, Phil George and Surfboards, Qi gong and the brain, Seth Grant, SpaceSuit Yoga, SPARK on brain fitness