Brainier than Thou

A little while ago, we learned that extra body fat was correlated with smaller brain volume and possibly linked to increased rates of Alzheimer’s disease.  Across the city, ice cream spoons were sadly set aside.  Not that anyone wanted to be overweight, but being overweight and hopelessly confused was just more than we could bear.

Now in the latest, “Health Findings You Can’t Do Anything About” News, comes evidence that those with large heads are less likely to suffer the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, ostensibly because they possess a vast storehouse of spare brain cells.

This is great news if you have a freakishly large head.  Sure, it makes makes wearing a stylish hat all but an impossibility, but now you can rest assured that your brain has potentially been stockpiling cells for later in life when you need a few extras.  Lucky you!

However, for those of you with normally proportioned heads, this news is of little value as there is essentially nothing you can do to change the size of your brain or the number of cells piled up in there.  No brain-building exercise machine that will be offered on late night television.  No neuron multiplication diet that will bulk up your cerebellum.

Most brain growth occurs before the age of 6.  Any differential in growing that storeroom of spare cells would need to be accomplished in the pre-school years.  Factors leading to optimal brain growth would include genetics, nutrition, general good health, and avoiding injury.

The average head circumference is 56 centimeters (and the weight of the average human head is 8 pounds – thank you, “Jerry MacGuire”).  A head bigger than the average could be less impacted by brain atrophy, while smaller brains with less grey matter to spare might be more susceptible to damage.

Excuse me while I go find my tape measure, I want to see how big my extra stash of memory is!  How do you measure up?

26. July 2010 by Ruth Folger Weiss
Categories: Alzheimers/Dementia | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment