Many newspapers, magazines and online articles have in the past reported research findings done by other people. For those people who may not be critiques, the information found from these media avenues may be complete sources of information, but for those that are interested in verifying any given information, then studying the original research will be very vital. This is because the research reports in media may not provide finer details of methodology or other cautionary statements that have been made by the researchers.
This term paper makes a critical analysis of Peter Jaret’s article on the CNN’s website entitled “Brain boosters: Exercising your mind as you age. ” Research: Aerobic Fitness Reduces Brain Tissue Loss in Aging Humans The research entitled “Aerobic Fitness Reduces Brain Tissue Loss in Aging Humans” was conducted to examine the relationship between aerobic fitness and brain tissues in an old adult population (Colcombe ET al, 2003). The research was important in that the brain starts losing tissues as one gets older which in turn makes the cognitive performance to decline.
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This can enable measures that can reduce costs related to geriatric care put in place. This may be done by coming up with mechanisms that can be used to reverse or reduce this brain deterioration. The research was also done to either confirm or refute the previous researches that suggested that aerobic fitness training does improve the cognitive function of old people and that it can improve the brain health of aging animals tested in the laboratory (Colcombe ET al, 2003).
The targeted population was made up of older adults in the community who were over fifty five years, were right handed, high functioning, and had been recruited for public fliers, campus wide e-mailings and newspaper advertisements (Colcombe ET al, 2003). Those who were excluded were those that were below the stated age, got less than twenty in Mini-Mental State Examination and had a history of organic brain dysfunction and stroke. Also the participants were excluded if the reported claustrophobia or had pacemakers or metallic implants, this was done for safety reasons pertaining to magnetic resonance imaging setting.
The respondents were also to get written approval letters from their doctors so that they can undergo the cardiovascular stress test. The research was approved by the University of Illinois’ Institutional Review Board in addition to the researchers meeting ethical standards that were relevant (Colcombe ET al, 2003). The first part of the research methodology was to measure the gray and white matters of the brain from the Magnetic Resolution (high density) images and then the estimates of the maximal oxygen uptake (V O2max).
The brain images were taken using three dimensional spoiled gradient sequences on a General Electric scanner. The Rockport 1-mile walk protocol was used to assess the participant’s cardiovascular fitness. The impact of cardiovascular fitness on brain tissue differences in density that are age related was accessed using a voxel-based morphometric technique. The technique is useful in that it provides a means of estimating tissue atrophy in the entire brain with spatial resolution that is high which then allows conclusions of the variables on brain matter change (Colcombe ET al, 2003).
Before analysis was done the images were taken through different preprocessing stages. First the tissues that are non brain were removed from the image of the head of the participants. The other three images were divided into three maps to represent the density of the white matter, the grey matter and the cerebrospinal fluid. All the images were then examined by experts who did not have prior information of the participants’ fitness so that they could be objective in their calibration (Colcombe ET al, 2003).
Though sixty individuals had expressed their interest to participate in the study, fifty five were eligible to complete both faces due to the fact that three were younger; one person had an implanted pacemaker, eight had claustrophobia and one scored less MMSE score. The participants were aged between fifty five and seventy nine years meaning that the age mean score was 66. 5 years. Generally the sample was 44. 4 percent men; many being well educated (average 16. 1 years in education). The results showed that the white matters of the brains were being lost as one continued aging.
Also, those regions that are mostly affected by aging are the ones that showed the greatest advantages of aerobic fitness. Fitness according to the results plays the role of moderating decline in tissue density that is related to age. The results showed that tissue densities in the parietal, frontal and temporal cortices of the brain reduce as the aging process progresses. Also it was found that the losses were reduced by the cardiovascular fitness function even when other variables were controlled (Colcombe ET al, 2003).
The research was very important as it was a confirmation that there is a relationship between cardiovascular fitness and the degeneration the fact that had previously been hypothesized. There was also the confirmation that cardiovascular fitness protection and enhancement of the cognitive function in the older adults has a biological basis. This is a justification of the other studies that had shown that taking antioxidant supplements could reverse aging in older brains; cognitive training could assist in the preservation of brain function.
The research report also suggest that there are aerobic exercises’ benefits that go beyond health markers (cardiovascular) which can even affect the brain (Colcombe ET al, 2003). Synopsis of the article In the CNN’s article online that is entitled “Brain boosters: Exercising your mind as you age,” there are some research issues that the author, Peter Jaret has handled. He states that the researchers have established that physical and mental activities protect one’s memory and helping him or her stay alert (Jaret, 1999).
He also refers to the previous researches stating that the speed of brain processing does slow down as one continues to advance in years and also that between the age of twenty five and fifty five people can loose about twenty five percent of their synapses (connections which relay messages between neurons). Also that the older people experience problems in coming up with either numbers or names; this being because memory takes more time in retrieving the data.
He also mentions Robert Dustman’s article in 1990 that states that those people who are aerobically fit are better in staying alert and pay attention or even in remembrance of information. He quotes the director of Gerontology at the University of Texas who states that two physical factors are the ones that predicts the performance (on tests of information processing) of a person. The author gives the reason why aerobic fitness affects the brain precisely because exercises allow blood vessels to remain open and the heart to remain strong, thus allowing the brain to function properly since the nutrients can reach the brain cells.
He states that neurons that make two percent of the total body weight use about one quarter of the oxygen and glucose intake by the body. Exercises also allow parts of the balance and movement that keep the connections of the neurons strong (Jaret, 1999). Jaret (1999) also mentions the researches that found out that mental gymnastics are useful in the preservation of brain power. He cites the research by Meyer who recorded his research findings in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society in 1990 stating that blood flow for those who have allowed their minds to be inactive declines.
The author mentions the 1998 issue of Neuroscience where the researchers found that brain cells can reproduce; the study that was done using rats. He also mentions Robert Goldman’s suggestions on the ways one can develop brain connections that are underused. First, one can play games that require thinking, memorize poetry and verses, reading articles and books that are challenging and finally engage in practices that are regarded as complex or difficult (Jaret, 1999).
Critique of the Article Studying the article, it is clear that the author had done enough research before he decided to submit it for publishing. This is because many of the research findings that he mentions are either preceded or followed by their authors or the sources from where the information had been gotten. Information about the speed of brain’s processing slowing with the advancement of age had already been proved in the researches by Colcombe ET al.
Other claims that the author has made and that are verified by the findings of this research include the percentage of the synapses that are lost as age progresses, between the age of twenty five and fifty five and that exercises keeps the blood flowing to the brain cells facts that are also mentioned in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. When he states that mental gymnastics can preserve brain power he aggress with the research done by Marks Et al (2007) entitled “Role of aerobic fitness and aging on cerebral white matter integrate. ”
Despite the researched facts that the writer of the article has given, there are details that he has not given the readers perhaps because of the space limit allowed in the media publications. The methodology used by the researchers has not been indicated and other important details such as research designs, data collection methods, and the variables. This makes the readers unable to get the final details of the researches. This however does not at any form mislead the reader as the author was careful to cite the sources of the information that he has written.
Conclusion In conclusion, it is clear that Peter Jaret article was well written, citing the sources from where the information has been retrieved. However, the article could have been made more informative by giving finer details of the original researches that were conducted. REFERENCES Colcombe, J. et al (2003). Aerobic fitness reduces brain tissue loss in aging humans. The Journal of Gerontology Series: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 58:M176- M-180. --- (2003). Aerobic exercise training increases brain volume in aging humans. The Journal
of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 61:1166-1170. Erickson, K. , Kramer, A. (2008). Aerobic exercise effects on cognitive and neural plasticity in older Adults. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 43:22-24. doi:10. 1136/bjsm. 2008. 052498 Jaret, P. (1999). Brain boosters: Exercising your mind as you age. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from http://archives. cnn. com/1999/HEALTH/aging/12/15/brain. boosters. two. wmd/index. html Marks, B. Et al. (2007). Role of aerobic fitness and aging on cerebral white Matter Integrity. New York: New York Academy of Scienc
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