Neurophilosophy

A reader sent me a link to this report on today’s NPR Morning Edition, about the potential benefits of voluntary work for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The program describes the work of Peter Whitehouse, who founded a school in Cleveland, Ohio 8 years ago, which regularly engages people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in voluntary work with the pupils.

Voluntary work necessarily involves social interactions, which Whitehouse believes has significant health benefits for the patients. There is some evidence to support his claim – recent research shows that socializing promotes the survival of newborn cells in the zebra finch brain, and may preserve memory in humans by a similar mechanism. 

Comments

  1. #1 Carol O'Dell
    June 17, 2008

    It makes sense that volunteering would be healthy for the brain. While brain games, song lyrics, fill in the blanks are all fine, we know (even if we have Alzheimer’s) what’s important and worth our time and what’s just a time filler.

    Purpose, deep satisfaction and pride that comes with knowing you’ve impacted a life does more than just kick on a few synapsis–it fills the heart and “soul.”

    My mother played the piano at her church (even with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) until she was 89 years old. It meant so much to her that they needed her.

    Thanks for this article and nice ot meet you.

    ~Carol D. O’Dell
    Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir
    available on Amazon
    http://www.mothering-mother.com