Scientists share findings about brain

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If was once thought the human brain does not continue to grow or change after a person enters adulthood, but research has shown the adult brain is not fixed. It can change, and it can be changed through things such as exercise.

On Tuesday night, Dr. Kristin Anstrom, an assistant professor at Wake Forest University Medical School and an investigator in the Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease based in the University of Pittsburgh, will give a free lecture titled "The Effects of Exercise on the Brain."

What: "The Effects of Exercise on the Brain" presented by Dr. Kristin Anstrom, an assistant professor at Wake Forest University Medical School and an investigator in the Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease based in the University of Pittsburgh

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Steamboat Springs Middle School cafeteria

Anstrom specializes in the study and treatment of Park--inson's Disease and has learned the value of exercise that is cognitively challenging, such as social dancing or playing catch.

"Exercise can affect the cardiovascular system within the brain and change how the neurons talk to one another," Anstrom said. "(On Tuesday) I will talk about how that concept can be implicated in the treatment of things like Parkinson's and depression."

Anstrom's talk is part of the outreach segment of the Winter Brain Conference to be held at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort through Saturday. This is the 39th year for the conference, held in a different location each year. With each conference, attendees attempt to reach out to the communities they visit by visiting science classrooms or offering workshops such as "The Effects of Exercise on the Brain."

"We try to present a topic that the lay person can incorporate into their lifestyle," Anstrom said. "That is part of what scientists have a directive to do -- to improve the health of the country, and this is our grassroots effort."

At the 2005 Winter Brain Conference held in Breckenridge, the authors of "Inflammation Nation: The First Clinically Proven Eating Plan to End Our Nation's Secret Epidemic" spoke about their book. More than 300 people attended, Anstrom said.

Although "Exercising the Brain" is specifically targeted as the outreach portion of the conference, the public is welcome to attend any of the sessions at the Winter Brain Conference. A complete schedule of sessions can be found at www.winterbrain.org.

In addition to offering access to the conference and conducting Tuesday night's "The Effects of Exercise on the Brain" workshop, 14 scientists from the Winter Brain Conference will visit elementary, middle and high school science classrooms in Steamboat Springs to present talks to students.

"Kids always ask such good questions at these talks," Anstrom said. "They as about everything from ethics to why we do something to what approach we take in the lab."

This year, topics will include vision, sleep, brain function and memory.

-- To reach Autumn Phillips, call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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