ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
CANCER
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
CAREGIVING
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Prenatal Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Lead to Asthma
Gas Cooking Might Up Your Cancer Risk
Genetics, Environment Shape Sexual Behavior
EYE CARE, VISION
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
FITNESS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Maximize Your Run
Run for Your Life
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
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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