Alzheimer's disease, with its attendant confusion and memory loss, is
rapidly replacing the Big C as the condition people fear most. Though
pharmaceutical companies are pouring money into finding new drugs to
treat it, success is as yet elusive. Some researchers say that vitamin
B12 and regular exercise help to slow the progress of the disease.
Others advocate a "use it or lose it" view , arguing that keeping the
brain active into middle and old age helps to stave off symptoms.
Neurobics was coined in imitation of aerobics (it seems by Dr Lawrence
C Katz and Manning Rubin in their 1999 book Keep Your Brain Alive) to
cover mental exercises invented to help do that. Remaining mentally
active, it's argued, keeps the links between brain cells alive and
busy. An example might be brushing your teeth with the other hand, or
moving items around so you don't get in a mental rut, or doing things
with your eyes closed. Such claims are viewed with scepticism by the
medical profession, but everyone agrees that at least they can do no
harm. Unlike so many briefly fashionable terms that explode into the
night sky of the popular press but soon fade, this one shows slight
signs of continued life.
Others insist that you cannot separate the mind's software from its
hardware and that the true aim of neurobics ought to be to keep the
connections between brain cells flexible and strong, perhaps even
growing new connections and new brain cells.
New Scientist Nov 2001