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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Myth Busting Monday - No New Brain Cells

MYTH: Adults don't grow new brain cells

I have watched a lot of tv shows lately that delve into the structure and function on the human body; one of the things that I found interesting was that they pointed out that you are born with all the muscle fibers you will ever have, although the fibers may get bigger or smaller new fibers cannot be grown. Examples like this might lead one to believe that a person is born with all the brains cells they will ever have but studies have shown that neurons in the brain grow and change during the adult years. I remember growing and some times enjoying the smell of gas a little too much while filling up the car and thinking that I have a few less brain cells now. Although it may be true that brain cells are lost during such activities, I find hope in the knowledge that I can grow new ones to replace the ones I lost during 'mindless' activities. Here are some quotes from the internet 'tubes' that support the notion of growing new brain cells.

Much of a human's crucial brain development happens during childhood, but it isn't all downhill from there. Studies have shown that neurons continue to grow and change well into the adult years. [source]
Research with mice discovered these results:
The researchers found that while pyramidal neurons didn't exhibit any structural changes—which is consistent with previous reports—a group of inhibitory neurons called "interneurons"did.

The researchers estimate that on average, about 14 percent of the interneurons they observed showed structural modifications.

Approximately 20 to 30 percent of the neurons in the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher functions such as thought, are made up of inhibitory interneurons. These neurons are believed to play an important role in regulating brain activity by delaying or blocking signals from excitatory neurons. [source]

Other research done with rhesus monkeys resulted this way:
Elizabeth Gould and Charles Gross performed their research on rhesus monkeys, whose brain structure is very similar to that of humans. They found that neurogenesis -- the formation of new nerve cells -- takes place in several different regions of the cortex that are crucial for cognitive and perceptual functions. The cerebral cortex is the most complex region of the brain and is responsible for high-level decision making and for learning about the world. The results strongly suggest that the same process occurs in humans. Their report is published in the Oct. 15, 1999 issue of Science. [source]
This discovery of new brain cell growth has opened up new possibilities for combating brain degenerating deceases.
While the adult brain was once thought to be a mostly static structure, scientists have discovered in recent years that some parts of the brain -- most notably, the hippocampus, an area involved in learning and memory, and the subventricular zone, which lines one of the brain's fluid-filled cavities -- continually produce neurons, especially after injury."We know new cells are made and go to the site of new injury, whether it's stroke or Parkinson's or Alzheimer's," says David Greenberg, a neuroscientist at the Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato, CA."One strategy to treat neurodegeneration is to boost this response." [source]
As research on brain activity and growth continues I am sure there will be more information about ways to keep our brains active and growing. The first time I was introduced to a sudoku puzzle my wife's mom told me that those puzzles are good for brain activity and preventing Alzheimer's; I don't know about the whole preventing Alzheimer's thing but one thing that I have noticed through a lot of my reading on this subject has suggested to keep your mind active through activities like phsyical exercise and mind puzzles to help keep the mind healthy.

So the final verdict on this myth is that adults can grow new brain cells

Conclusion: False

What are your thoughts about this myth, let us know in the comments

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

That Sure Was Taxing

Currently around the country people are stressing out about their taxes. With only about a month before they are due some people may be starting to sweat it, while others are filing for an extension. For us, thanks to our friend Turbo Tax we filed electronically yesterday! YAY! I've already had confirmation that both states and the feds have received our tax return and we are about 1 week from our refund! I'm sure glad that's over, and really glad that next year we will only have to file in one state instead of two!

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Myth Buster Monday - Pee in the Pool

MYTH: There are chemicals to detect pee in a pool

Growing up in Southern California, I spend half of my young life in water; whether it was at the community pool, the high school pool or the pool at my Grandma's house, where ever there was a pool of water I was in it. Surprisingly I never heard this myth growing up, but I remember always being told to not 'go' in the pool. I think the first time I remember hearing this is when I was in college.

I don't know how official this site is, but I found, a 'Resource for Pool & Spa Water Chemistry & Problems' and addresses this myth in his miscellaneous pool chemicals question and answer section, he also discusses the problems that pee in a pool can cause.
The joke's on you! I can tell you that no such product exists. Once upon a time there was a product like that, but it was intended as a joke! It was not intended to be anything else! Urine in a swimming pool is no joke: it can quickly deplete the chlorine level, especially in smaller pools, and will lead to the formation of odorous chloramines. If there is urine in the pool, the odorous combined chlorine level will rise and the free chlorine level will bottom out. Large amounts of shock will probably be required to restore the proper chlorine levels..... I hope that I have debunked the myth [source]
Here is another great resource debunking this myth:
So, is there a chemical that can be added to swimming pools, to change colour and mark out naughty people who wee in the water? According to Prof. Selinger, almost certainly not. Urine is made from water, inorganic salts, urea, creatinine, ammonia, catecholamines, allantoin and the breakdown products of red blood cells, which give it its yellowish colour. There are also many other chemicals in varying ratios, depending on your health and many other factors. Which one of these many chemicals will you choose to react with? If a chemical can react to urine, it might also react to your sweat. This is such a difficult problem, that it seems that nobody has tried to solve it. And if such a chemical did really exist, surely cheeky kids would urinate while swimming past other kids, to put the blame onto them. [source]
My wife took a lot of chemistry classes during her college career so we have talked about the validity of the myth many times. One of the major flaws of this myth that we have talked about is that there would have to be such a huge concentration of the of the 'detecting' chemical in order for the detection to occur. The probable concentration levels needed for something like this to actually work would result in having to swim in more chemicals than water.

Maybe the only cure for the this pool problem is shown in the sign below
For those of you having trouble viewing the picture, this is what the sign says:
Welcome to out OOL (Notice there's no 'P' in it ...) LET'S KEEP IT THAT WAY

What are your thoughts about this myth, let us know in the comments

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