Running mice

Got all excited about this article in today’s Guardian, which describes the results of research which seem to show that running causes growth of new brain cells:

A few days of running led to the growth of hundreds of thousands of new brain cells that improved the ability to recall memories without confusing them, a skill that is crucial for learning and other cognitive tasks, researchers said.

The new brain cells appeared in a region that is linked to the formation and recollection of memories. The work reveals why jogging and other aerobic exercise can improve memory and learning, and potentially slow down the deterioration of mental ability that happens with old age.

This, to me, sounded utterly great, and confirms that exercise is an excellent thing to do whether or not it helps you lose weight (it doesn’t) because of the benefits to health, well-being and happiness. My excitement was dampened a little when I read on and found out that the findings were based on research with mice!

What lazy, sensationalist journalism: reading the first few paragraphs, such as those reproduced above, you’d surely assume, as I did, that the research had been with people?

Still, one of the quotes included at the foot of the article, from the author Haruki Murakami, cheered me up, because it expresses with such fluency the wonderful focus on the immediate that I too feel while running:

When I am running my mind empties itself. Everything I think while running is subordinate to the process. The thoughts that impose themselves on me while running are like light gusts of wind – they appear all of a sudden, disappear again and change nothing.

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