Parents and Grandparents- Read This!
The University of Southern California hosts a Brain and Creativity Institute. It just reported the results of a five-year study on the effect of learning to play a musical instrument on brain development of children. If you’ve reading our newsletters for a while, you won’t be surprised with the results. The young musicians, who practiced an average of seven hours per week, had accelerated brain development in the areas of the brain associated with speech, reading skills, sound perception and more. Remember the PR around Amy Chua’s book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother that popularized the term “Tiger Mom”? Sounds (get it, sounds?) like she got the music education part right.
Link to a research summary here.
We’ve previously noted that learning to play a musical instrument at any age is a great brain builder and is one of the steps we can take to prevent dementia.
In our last newsletter, we said we’ll revisit alcohol and brain health again. Why you ask; this has been a topic in too many newsletters already. The answer: a huge new study from France.
The French contributions to the arts, design and fine living are essentially unlimited. Michelin-rated restaurants. The Riviera. The Cathedral at Notre Dame. The Louvre. Hermes leather goods. Haute couture. And, of course, the products of the vineyards: the finest champagnes, wines, brandies and cognacs. That is not, however, an unchecked positive.
The mortality rate for alcohol-related death is far higher in France than its neighboring countries. And, a study reported in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet points out the role of alcohol in dementia.
A research team assembled from institutions in France and Canada organized a unique study: they reviewed almost all the information about adults discharged from French hospitals for the six-year period 2008-13. During that time, about 31,600,000 adults were discharged from French hospitals. Approximately 1,100,000 were diagnosed with dementia, of whom about 57,400 had early onset of dementia. Early onset was defined as dementia prior to age 65. Over a third (38.9%) of the early onset cases were directly related to alcohol consumption; an additional amount had alcohol as a contributing factor. The researchers wrote: “Alcohol use disorders were the strongest modifiable risk factor for dementia onset…”.
And: “Also, alcohol use disorders were significantly associated with all other risk factors for dementia onset”. This observation was based on learning that heavy alcohol consumers were more likely to be smokers, overweight and suffer depression – all of which are risk factors for dementia. Researchers determined that people with drinking disorders were three times as likely to develop some form of dementia early. Link to the underlying research here.
In my view, this research confirms what most of us knew: too much alcohol is deadly in a variety of ways. Again, if we are to enjoy an adult beverage, we must be very conscious to keep the quantity small.
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Excerpt from our upcoming how-to book on building a bigger brain. Copyright 2018 all rights reserved.