Challenge to Chess Players: Improving Cognition!
In his Neurobiology of Aging paper (2009), Dr. Timothy Salthouse* suggests that age-related cognitive decline starts in healthy educated adults when they are in their 20s or 30s. Support for Dr Salthouse’s contention comes from one of the world’s most demanding cognitive challenges, the game we all love: chess. Top players are becoming younger and younger.
As you know, Iceland’s 20-year-old wunderkind, Magnus Carlson's rating significantly surpasses the world 40+ world champion, Viswanathan Anand from India.
Should top chess players fold up their board and choose tiddlywinks after age 20?
Hardly: A huge body of scientific research points the way to improving and perhaps reversing age-related cognitive decline.
For example, glucose-hungry brain cells become challenged when circulating blood sugar drops to the 80s (mg/dl of blood) or below. Research shows that ketones, a safer form of energy than glucose, swinginto action when this happens. This forces healthy neurons to go through an adaptation process, becoming more energy-efficient, actually generating more mitochondria, thus making energy production to power thinking capabilities easier to generate.
Under these conditions, new cells are formed in the hippocampus; and other areas of the brain – the substantia nigra, for example – are preserved. All this ultimately helps prevent and possibly even reverse cognitive decline.
Meanwhile, new research shows that when glucose availability drops, the neuroprotective and energy-sensitive gene SIRT1 is activated. This may help prevent and even shrink the amyloid plaque formation associated with Alzheimer's Disease.
Here's more for those interested in improving your brain for better chess or for any other cognitive activity for that matter: http://store.livingthecrway.com/boosting-your-brain-power/
Activating this ketone biochemistry also facilitates formation of new neurons -- vital for cognitive functions associated with chess play.