Thursday, January 8, 2009

Life begins at 40

At the beginning of a new year many a woman’s thoughts turn to ... getting another year older.But why is it that so many women fear turning 40? Scientists have revealed the age at which we reach our mental peak – and the answer is not, as Douglas Adams would have it, 42, but 39.

So, if life does begin at 40, it’s because you’ve hit the summit and can now freewheel downhill for the rest of your life (wouldn’t it be wonderful if life gave you a “free pass” at age 40?)

By testing how fast a group of subjects aged 23 to 80 could tap their finger in 10 seconds, a psychiatry team at the University of California found that the brain was at its most efficient at 39, but that its power dropped “at an accelerating rate” once it hit 40.

They reckon it’s because of the loss in middle age of a fatty sheath, myelin, that coats the nerve cells or neurons (in case you’re wondering that’s not a pic of pot plant, it's actually a close up of a myelin-sheathed axon). When this starts getting dodgy, your responses start slowing down.

And you’ll suffer more if you’re a tippler because the brain is made of fat and when you feed it alcohol you dissolve that fat, and destroy your brain cells.

Maybe this is why when you’ve had too much to drink you think you’re a genius when actually you are behaving like an idiot. Perhaps you should have thought of this before that New Year party ...

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