Thursday, March 15, 2007
Running down memory lane
Last weekend, I did a very odd thing. I got in my car, left my family at home and drove to the first TV station where I ever worked. That may not sound so adventurous, but I live outside Washington, D.C., and my first job in broadcasting was in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Don't reach for a map - I can save you the trouble. It's about 200 miles away, a three-hour drive, without stops. Why would I take a glorious afternoon to drive to a place I haven't been in 30 years? Can't tell you. I just had a strong urge to see the place again. Maybe I was being melancholy, but the images of the town had become so vivid in my head, I just had to hit the road. So I took off, with the Four Tops blasting on my stereo. No Gwen Stefani for me, thank you. I was coasting down memory lane.

Once there, I drove by the station, my old apartment, the places I hung out with friends. The town has changed a lot, but the old church, the bank, the city pool, the railroad tracks I crossed to get home, were still there. The visit was like comfort food for my brain. It felt good to see my old haunts. To finish up the day, I stopped at a gas station, picked up a pepperoni roll and sped on home. My memory mission was complete.

So, was this just an episode in my mid-life crisis or something more? Could be both, but scientists believe it might be due to the exercise I've incorporated into my life recently. Since November, I've been hitting the gym more often. I feel better, both physically and mentally. Now researchers believe that exercise can actually boost brain power in such a way, it can build new cells in a region of the brain linked with memory and memory loss.

The study was actually twofold. While looking at the effects of exercise on the brains of mice, scientists noted that the more the animals exercised, the more brain cells they regenerated, especially in the region called the dentate gyrus, which involves memory. After using high-tech imaging to document the changes in the brains of the mice, researchers used the same MRI process to look at the brains of people before and after exercise. They found the same blood-flow patterns, which suggest that people can also grow new brain cells when they exercise. Although the study, which was headed by doctors at Columbia University Medical Center, was small, they think it's another bit of proof that exercise is good for your brain.

In all truthfulness, I have no idea whether my new gym routine sparked my memory of the hills of West Virginia. I hadn't thought about the place in a long, long time. But since I began my spinning class and working out more often, those "Almost Heaven" moments had become so real to me, I had to touch them again. Let's hope it continues, because the second TV station I worked for was in Miami.

What has exercise done for your brain? I'd like to hear about it.
Exercising routinely has vastly improved me mentally and physically. It has made me more awake and energetic during the day. Before I used to take routine naps during the daytime but now I really don't need them as often. Physically I felt more confident and mentally I just felt happier and able to study more attentively.
I was under the impression that neurons do not regenerate,that they are stuck in the G0 stage of mitosis.Does this new research suggest the possibility of actually regrowing brain cells and if so what are the possible medical applications of this new study?
I run five miles almost every day and I also do strength training. As a student, I've noticed that exercise enables me to focus and concentrate better, also, I sleep better. During the day I don't feel the urge to take a nap (unless I stayed up all night watching CNN), and, I look younger than my true age because I'm in such good shape!
I walk everyday for more than one hour during which time I like to think things through and relive my pleasant childhood. I also take a half hour nap everyday to boost my energy because I am a night reader. I read for hours after my kids go to bed at 9 p.m. I feel great.
We've been watching you for so long on CNN, we never thought you had a connection to WV. How strange it must have been for you during the Sago Mine tragedy.
Having grown up in Bridgeport, WV right next to Clarksburg, I appreciated most the part about the pepperoni roll. My husband (from Pennsylvania) makes sure to get one every time we are back for a visit!
I rather think you just had a manic bout. Who else drives 400 miles in a day, just to satisfy some melancholic mood, and afterwards makes up a lame excyse like his memory power has been boosted by exercizing?
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