McAvoy Layne
Special to the Bonanza

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September 25, 2012
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Pine Nuts: Chips for the brain coming to a store near you

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — “I’ll take a Fantasy Football chip and a chip to understand women, thank you.”

Yes my friend, digital neural implants that enhance cognitive skills are not far off, a mere two or three years, according to this month’s Journal of Neural Engineering. They’re implanting these chips in monkeys today and darned if those monkeys aren’t wanting to register to vote.

The cortex of the brain, that part of the brain in the front that does or does not do algebra, is the area they’re working on right now. Co-authors of this study are Robert E. Hampson, Sam A. Deadwyler, Ioan Opris and Lucas Santos, all of Wake Forest; Dr. Berger, Vasilis Marmarelis and Dong Song of U.S.C.; and Greg A. Gerhardt of the University of Kentucky. (Dong Song is a great name.) Did you know, all eight Nobel Prize winners in science who are of Chinese descent either were or subsequently became American citizens.

But let’s get back to the monkeys. With the help of a little chip, monkey business acumen increased by as much as 20 percent. Just think how a little chip you could pick up at Radio Shack might improve your stock market acumen. Looking ahead to that chip that might help us to understand women, well, we might have to wait awhile for that one.

Meanwhile, there’s more scientific good news. It is postulated that through its stimulation of the vagus nerve, the practice of yoga appears to counter inflammation throughout the body, and may even reduce the effects of diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. If that is not enough to encourage you to sign up for a yoga class, it has been shown that yoga, by relieving physical and mental stress, may slow biological aging and prolong life. In full disclosure I confess that my wife is an excellent yoga instructor.

But wait, there’s more scientific good news. It’s widely accepted among scientists that regular exercise transforms the brain, and improves the ability to remember and think. A growing body of science is producing evidence to prove that exercise actually stimulates the creation of new brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis. Put that word in your wallet and take it to the bank.

For a final upbeat note we look to Mike Adams, known as “The Health Ranger.” Mike maintains that most of us suffer from “nature deficiency.” Living in a virtual world, that world of television, computers and games is not healthy, whereas living in nature will heal many of the disorders brought on by our virtual world.

Says Mike, “I've often thought that somebody should launch a ‘nature camp’ business that would offer rehab services for teenage boys who are addicted to gaming. It would be a hugely successful business given how widespread modern gaming addiction has become.”

Personally, I’d like to thank the Health Ranger and all the scientists that have provided today’s good science news. Just by digesting this little bit of information I feel better already, or, as Mark Twain might proffer, “I am able to say that while I am not feeling ruggedly well, I am not ill enough to excite an undertaker.”

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Sep 25, 2012 06:01PM Published Sep 25, 2012 05:59PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.