ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
CANCER
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
CAREGIVING
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
The High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Debate
Eating Vegan or Raw-Vegan at Regular Restaurants
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Meat-Eating Dinosaurs Used Legs and Arms Like Birds
EYE CARE, VISION
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
FITNESS
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
The Brain Comes Alive With the Sounds of Music
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
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Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web

(HealthDay News) -- Surfing the Internet just might be a way to preserve your mental skills as you age.

Researchers found that older adults who started browsing the Web experienced improved brain function after only a few days.

"You can teach an old brain new technology tricks," said Dr. Gary Small, a psychiatry professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of iBrain. With people who had little Internet experience, "we found that after just a week of practice, there was a much greater extent of activity particularly in the areas of the brain that make decisions, the thinking brain -- which makes sense because, when you're searching online, you're making a lot of decisions," he said. "It's interactive."

Small is co-author of the research, which was scheduled to be presented Monday in Chicago at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.

"This makes intuitive sense, that getting on the Internet and exploring and getting new information and learning would help," said Paul Sanberg, director of the University of South Florida Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa. "It supports the value of exploring the Internet for the elderly."

Most experts now advocate a "use-it-or-lose-it" approach to mental functioning.

"We found a number of years ago that people who engaged in cognitive activities had better functioning and perspective than those who did not," said Dr. Richard Lipton, a professor of neurology and epidemiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and director of the Einstein Aging Study. "Our study is often referenced as the crossword-puzzle study -- that doing puzzles, writing for pleasure, playing chess and engaging in a broader array of cognitive activities seem to protect against age-related decline in cognitive function and also dementia."

The new study takes the use-it-or-lose-it concept into the 21st century.

For the research, 24 neurologically normal adults, aged 55 to 78, were asked to surf the Internet while hooked up to an MRI machine. Before the study began, half the participants had used the Internet daily, and the other half had little experience with it.

After an initial MRI scan, the participants were instructed to do Internet searches for an hour on each of seven days in the next two weeks. They then returned to the clinic for more brain scans.

"At baseline, those with prior Internet experience showed a much greater extent of brain activation," Small said.

After at-home practice, however, those who had just been introduced to the Internet were catching up to those who were old hands, the study found.

"This is a demonstration that, over a relatively short period of time, patterns of brain activation while engaging in cognitive activities change," Lipton said. "That is at least a first step toward gaining insight into the mechanisms that might allow cognitive engagement to influence brain function."

But, Small said, beware how you use the Internet.

"You can exercise your mind by using the Internet, but it depends on how it's used," he explained. "If you get hooked on gambling or eBay shopping, that may not be positive."

SOURCES: Gary Small, M.D., professor, psychiatry, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles; Richard Lipton, M.D., professor, neurology and epidemiology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Paul Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., professor, neurosurgery, and director, University of South Florida Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, Tampa, Fla.; Oct. 19, 2009, presentation, Society for Neuroscience 2009 meeting, Chicago