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Free Brain Training Kicks Off AARP National Spelling Bee in WYO

June 17, 2011

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Studying for a spelling bee, learning to play the violin, or taking art classes are examples of ways those in the 50-plus set can help keep their brains healthy. Brain training tips are being explored at a Friday workshop (June 17) in anticipation of the AARP National Spelling Bee on Saturday (June 18) in Cheyenne.

Deb Fleming, director of the University of Wyoming Geriatric Education Center, will share the latest information on aging brain studies. She led a team that interviewed spellers last year for a PBS documentary about how the aging brain can continue to grow.

"If people will be challenged by learning a new thing that's totally outside the realm of their prior experience, that lays down new neural pathways."

Brain researchers have discovered that mental exercise isn't the only important factor in keeping minds sharp, says Fleming.

"What's good for your heart is good for your brain. So, there is a lot that's involving exercise, good diet and just generally good health habits."

The workshop, "Gray Matters: Training the Grownup Brain," also includes advice from a physician, an exercise physiologist and a dietician. It begins at 8:30 a.m., at the Little America Hotel, Grand Ballroom, Cheyenne.

The spelling bee, which gets underway Saturday at Little America, is open to anyone age 50 and older; pre-registration is not required. Spectators are welcome, and the finals will be broadcast live online starting at 1:30 p.m.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY