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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?

Dennis Kippa (W5DPK) on September 30, 2008
View comments about this article!

While recuperating from eye surgery recently I had some time on my hands and spent a good amount of operating time on CW and SSB on 40 and 80 meters. I am a "BOOMER" born in 1947 and became a Ham 46 years so I am no Spring Chicken.

I had not been on CW for some time so to say I was rusty is a understatement, but after a few days of practice it all started to come back to me and that 20 word per minute QSO was again the norm and it seemed to get easier with more practice. No great discovery there, it is just common sense, the more you practice the better you get. But something else happened and I can't say for sure but I have a theory. Maybe it is wishful thinking but I really think my general brain functions, you know, memory quickness, ability to concentrate, has improved by some small measure. I can't prove my theory at this point, I don't know how to do that scientifically but common sense says practice makes you perform a task better and faster.

My question to you is this: As many of us know as our age increases the chance of Alzheimer's and other brain conditions increases. Some of the QSOs I had were with Hams in their 70's and 80's and their ability to copy and send CW made me think they were much younger. After thinking about it, most of the really good CW ops I have ever known were old men. Their minds were like steel traps and very little got by them. They were sharp, smart and very active Hams. I know that there is a collation between being active and living a healthy life style but, do CW ops have a lower instance of Alzheimer's than the General public?

Can the brain be exercised by the act of sending and receiving CW to the point that Alzheimer's or any other brain deterioration is stopped or delayed?

I suppose a long term study of Hams in some kind of control group, some that use CW, some that do not may give us some scientific information. I will leave that to the PHD's and the MD's to figure out.

For me it is an interesting subject. Maybe some day the Doctor's will recommended a hour of CW a day to keep the old gray matter from rotting away!

I'm just thinking out loud here so now it's your turn. What do you think?

...-.-

Dennis N5DPK Ex KW5G

Member Comments:
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Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by LU1YNE on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"Can the brain be exercised by the act of sending and receiving CW to the point that Alzheimer's or any other brain deterioration is stopped or delayed?"

Yes, it can. But also would work learning a new language, writing, reading, painting, homebrewing, and ANY other creative process... it is the ability to "excercise" your brain wich diminishes the effects of those mental deteriorations, not stop them, but diminish their effects.
Anything "new" to your brain or something that's not new for you (like CW) but requires your ability as it is different every time, will work. It has to be as creative as it can to work the better...

My 2 cents...
73 es DX de



Ed, LU1YNE
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by K9MHZ on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
There was some interesting research done on a group of nuns, noting that as a group, they seemed sharper and the liklihood of Alzhiemer's was very low. They were very good at some of the brain exercising tasks that they enjoyed throughout the day, including crossword puzzles, etc.

What was found though, was that they were very good at THOSE tasks that they repeated often (CW?)....but did NOT show an overall improvement in congitive ability. Instead, it was found that their TOTAL lifestyle explained their low occurrances of Alzhiemer's and dimentia. That included things like: no TV, eating just small amounts of healthy food, having a daily purpose that kept them physically, mentally, and spiritually active, etc.

I'm no authority on any of this, but to me it does make sense.....cut out the slovenly living, take care of the only body you'll ever be given, and stay mentally active in a variety of aspects of your life. As a hobby, amateur radio has a huge range of possibilities for mental stimulation....that's the cool part of what we do.

Cheers,

Brad
K9MHZ
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by W9PMZ on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Add this to the list along with the sex habits of earthworms for the Feds to study......

73,

Carl - W9PMZ
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by NB8N on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
My feeling is your guess is correct. It's the "Use it or lose it," thing. The mind is no different. I'm a '36 model, so have a lot of life in the rearview mirror, and CW has been my favorite mode since joining the Amateur ranks in '78. But, I don't work CW for my mind; it's because I enjoy it. This is not to say I have not considered the benefit of mental exercise. To that end I enjoy a number of mind-game puzzles and crosswords. Like you, I believe such activity works to keep the mind sharp. We can't entirely halt the aging process, but like the old beauty queen said, I'm going to fight it every step of the way. IMO, mental exercise (including CW as you point out) is a good activity. Does it work? Well, years ago I struggled to reach 20WPM; today I do 30WPM. The key, as you also pointed out, is PRACTICE.
Thanks for your thoughts.

73,
Bob - NB8N
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by K1CJS on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Anything that 'exercises' brain function will do the same. You don't have to learn to do any one specific thing--such as use CW--to do that.

I certainly wish people would stop trying to re-ignite that argument--the horse is dead, dead and beaten to atoms. Please lets leave it there!
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KB2DHG on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Bottom line is don't use it you loose it...
This is common to most anything but I do notice that since I have gotten back into CW, 4 years now, I seem to be better at math and other thinking chores. I am 50 years old and I do credit my Amateur Radio hobby to helping me keep my mind active.
As far as CW goes. I love the mode and do agree that it is excersize for the brain..
Nice article.
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by K5END on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Dennis,

Interesting observation.

I'm no doctor, but I do watch a lot of documentaries, ha...

Seriously, I believe the importance of what you've found is that using CW is perhaps a way to TEST for Alzheimer's Syndrome.

CW requires one to apply short term memories, such as following instructions or writing down a phone number. And Alzheimer's robs one of that skill.

Surprisingly, and I'm quoting a documentary here, it is not mental exercise, but PHYSICAL exercise that seems to delay or may even reverse signs of Alzheimer's. They did studies on mice which indicate old memories, such as how to swim to a hidden rescue spot and avoid drowning, that had appeared to vanish altogether had reappeared after putting the little critters on the wire wheel and let them run for a few days.

Therefore, hard work and clean living now seems to be worthwhile.

However, and this is my theory, it may be the case that learning and using CW during formative years children (or even OF's like us) with ADHD may derive some benefit from the concentration and short term memory requirements of the activity.


 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by VA3DXV on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not sure about the answer to your question, but just like any other muscle in your body, the brain needs exercise too. It certainly seems to me that constant use will keep you sharp. Some people do crosswords or sudoku for the same reasons, I can see how CW would be similar.

Anyways, I'm 32 and I'm going for eye surgery soon myself (corneal transplants). So pretty soon I'll know how you feel! I'll be off work for a while and I'm looking forward to spending my time on the radio, hopefully practicing my CW also. I wont be able to see a damn thing for a while but my ears will still work just fine!

73 and good luck!
 
CW = Fun... Low Doses of HF RF = good  
by N8NSN on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I would never claim to be an authority on anything except playing bass fiddle and guitar. That, I know, I am very proficient with.

Something I have noticed is that it would seem stimulation of the gray matter is good ...period. CW is probably good. Communicating with other people outside of your "circle of friends and family" is probably equally as good.

As for the HF RF being a good thing for the physical body... Hmmm in high doses and at QRO + it (hf rf) could probably induce many degenerative affects on the human body. However, there is one "case", I am aware of, personally, wherein mid power hf rf has caused very strange occurrences to take place. This is factual and true. Whether it was relative to the RF or not I can't say for sure. BUT, it sure sounds strangely related.

Here's the scoop...

One of my dearest friends (now retired) used to work for Monarch Marking in West Carrollton, Ohio. Monarch was one of the head liners in the research and development of RF ID products, as many of you may know. As well as the ID tags themselves, Monarch produced the "gate" type things, you walk through when you leave the stores, that detect the presence of the non-deactivated ID tags to alert the "authorities" of a possible theft situation. These "readers" actually have RF amplifiers that are very broad banded in the HF region and produce about 200 watts of RF energy in the 4 - 30 MHz range... Pretty broad yet concentrated into about a 12 foot parameter.

On with the "strange" part of the story...

There were about 6 people on the R&D crew. Two of the men and one of the women, on the R&D crew, were medically incapable of producing children. You know the scene... Families to feed and not wanting any more children. The other three members were just starting families and not "fixed" in that way. Not so strange if you were to ask people in general.

Here's the strange part...

Five of the six crew members produced children while in the technical development phase of the RF readers. The woman, whom was tubal ligation infertile, became pregnant with twins. My friend (Don), who had a vasectomy two years previous, rendered his wife with child... yes it is his so, don't even go there in your thoughts. The third "incapable" candidate was one of the other gentlemen on the crew that had a vasectomy as well. Those three can simply not be coincidental factors of the whole thing. The other two men on the crew, who's wives became pregnant could easily be explained off in statistics. But the three that were incapable, or at least very very low odds.., Who can explain that one? Let alone that all five of the six productions occurring in relatively a very small time frame (about 4 months).

I know this whole thing, to many of you, probably sounds like a barrel full of dung. I know, as well, that this whole thing is true. It sure is some strange stuff, that good ole RF...
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by K7NNG on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I am 70 plus and still copying CW just fine. I have tinitis and memory problems, but when it comes to CW I am the master.
 
RE: CW = Fun... Low Doses of HF RF = good  
by N2EY on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"My friend (Don), who had a vasectomy two years previous, rendered his wife with child... yes it is his so, don't even go there in your thoughts. The third "incapable" candidate was one of the other gentlemen on the crew that had a vasectomy as well. Those three can simply not be coincidental factors of the whole thing. The other two men on the crew, who's wives became pregnant could easily be explained off in statistics. But the three that were incapable, or at least very very low odds.., Who can explain that one?"

First question: Who did the vasectomies? If all those folks went to the same doctor(s), there's a possibility some sort of error was made in the procedures.

Second question: Did they go back for their checkups/lab tests after the procedure, to make sure it was done right? Many folks don't, even though they're supposed to.

Third question: Were they retested after the surprise stork visits?


"Let alone that all five of the six productions occurring in relatively a very small time frame (about 4 months)."

Not really. Probability can do strange things. Correlation is not causation.

For example, imagine a room full of people chosen totally at random from the general population. How many people would you need to have a 50-50 chance that at least two of them had the same birthday?

 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by K4ZNC on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Check out what is being said about brain plasticity (be a curious Googler). There is a wonderful video marketed on some of the PBS stattions regarding the wonderful ability of the brain to grow and develop through continual learning. Those of us who are experts at pounding Morse (or those who plod along like myself) continually develop that domain of the brain that deals with sending and receiving CW.

As a side note, about six months ago, I had a moderate bout with depression. Working CW helped me to focus and stay engaged with others. I am sure that CW is not the cure, but one of those ways that we can stay actively engaged in a hobby that is always evolving - like our brains!
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by W9PMZ on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"For example, imagine a room full of people chosen totally at random from the general population. How many people would you need to have a 50-50 chance that at least two of them had the same birthday? "

30 something?
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KP2Z on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
You need about 183 people in the room for a 50/50 chance. 365 birthdays a year.
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by K6CRC on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
another ham mentioned a bout of depression.

In my non-medical opinion, this is a much worse problem than the dredded "A" word. Many if not most older people go through this, it seems. It is also not time for amateur hour, or infomercial fixes. Save the macho,see a good doctor.

I have found a way to stay "up" is a hobby (ham radio is as good as any) and "down" as in weight. My back problems forced major changes in my life, and, as with any change, it is easy to overreact into a depression.

Not being able to play squash a couple of times a week, or take that 2 hour hike in the Santa Cruz mountains was a huge change. Those days are gone. Fortunately, there are other options. As a Ham, we should be use to change.

My kids have also helped. Looking at what the study in school, and watching the required TV/Videos have opened my eyes a lot. They have regular assignments to watch shows (live or DVD) from history or science subject. I do not watch much TV normally. Also, as boring as it sounds, I forced myself to watch 1 hour of speeches from each of the conventions with them (nausea was a constant problem!). Again, it keeps your brain working.
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by W3JJH on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
K2PZ:

Actually, you only need 20 individuals for a 50/50 chance of matching birthdays in a group. The first two have one chance in 365.25 of a match. The 0.25 comes from 29 February.

The next guy has 2 chances in 365.25 of matching one of the others. That brings the total probability to 3 in 365.25.

The fourth guy has 3 chances of a match, bring the odds to 6 in 365.25.

The twentieth individual will have 19 chances of a match and will bring the odds up to 190 in 365.25.

73 de W3JJH
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by WA8MEA on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
The problem with me is that most of the "slower" folks have all moved off of CW and onto voice. All that's left are the extremely fast ops.

I'd love to have a few 13 wpm qso's, but it's extremely hard to find participants. Most of the cw ops I hear are flying along.

I even took my 30 meter antenna down because 30m had turned into a high speed, DX band. I will probably put it back up once 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 open back up and spreads those 30 meter DX ops across those bands.

This leads to an interesting question from some of you who work 160 meter CW. Is it all high speed up there, too? Or can you find a 13 wpm ham to ragchew with?

I'm about ready to replace my nearly 15 year old 160 meter dipole. If I can find cw on 160 around 15 wpm, I might cut the wire length frequency to cover 1.8 to 1.9 MHz instead of my present cut of 1.85 to 1.95 MHz.

73, Bill - WA8MEA
http://HamRadioFun.com
tinytenna@hotmail.com

 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by N2DE on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"For example, imagine a room full of people chosen totally at random from the general population. How many people would you need to have a 50-50 chance that at least two of them had the same birthday? "

23 people is all that's needed, as your Windows calculator will tell you ( and prove how unreliable "common sense" often is when it comes to statistics ...):

365! / (365 - 23)! / 365^23 are the odds that of 23 people no two would have the same birthday, which works out to a little under 50%, meaning that the odds of two having the same birthday in a group of that size are a little over 50% ... (yes, I know that the year has a little over 365 days, but that does not change the result)
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KE7FD on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Good post Dennis. So many topics that get posted on eHam seem to become fodder for complainers, as I'm sure this thread will not be immune. You bring up a valid point that anyone who is concerned with aging ought to take seriously: Can entropy be reversed, basically? It would seem that any activity will help and CW ought to be a beneficial tool in that area (I'm not a real doctor, but I play one on T.V....).

Perhaps a bit off topic, but I recall a QST cover back in the 70's (I think) that came out in conjunction with the [summer] Olympics; A figure of a "ham athlete" sitting at a microphone... Anyone remember that one? Of all the comments one could make about the mocking nature of that figure in the context of the Olympics, my point here is that we hams need to do more than sitting on our backsides if we want to stay on the air. That includes physical activity as well as mental activity (CW).

Good post Dennis.
 
RE: CW = Fun... Low Doses of HF RF = good  
by K1DA on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
All the kids look lke you?
 
RE: CW = Fun... Low Doses of HF RF = good  
by RADIO123US on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
K1CJS said "I certainly wish people would stop trying to re-ignite that argument--the horse is dead, dead and beaten to atoms. Please lets leave it there! "

Chris, you are the only one here trying to revive a dead horse...just a suggestion, if you see a thread that mentions CW, just move along to the next thread...it will make you and us feel much better...
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KC0RBX on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I just read an article in the Harvard Medical Review that confirms your thoughts. CW not only prevents brain diseases, but is now found to help broken bones mend faster, lessen wrinkles and make you better looking. It even reported that CW ops were the most likely to cure the financial mess in Washington and New York. Amazing, CW fixes everything. Had to throw some sarcasm in here. But, seriously, I think the author may be on to something. It WOULD be interesting to do a study on cw ops. I can't help myself. Sorry. But, in all seriousness, the long term memory of a cw op might show scientists something about the disease and could be beneficial to finding a cure for the horrible ailment. I think that others who posted here mentioning learning anything new is also true. Music is a huge benefit. Try learning some different area of mathematics. In fact, exercising your brain by using all of its sectors has been shown to help. Using new sensory experiences (eyes, smell, touch,taste and hearing) along with learning different types of brain use (music, language, math, reading, problem solving) exercise many different areas of the brain. One should also do physical exercise and eat right to get more oxygen and nutrients to the brain. I liked the article even though I just had to throw in a little sarcasm. Thanks for a good one.
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KC4GNX on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Sarcasm has shown to encourage Alzheimer.

I think CW does challenge the mind.

Prevent or delay Alzheimer's? I don't know.

Those who know more than one language are generally sharper/smarter because the brain does have to work at some faster rate than your average bear. I think this can be true with CW as well.

Is CW my favorite/first choice for communication on the air, no, but I do enjoy trying to learn it.
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KW4JX on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Maybe CW IS preferential in resonating with the brain waves. See the use of background Bach music in Alec Rose's book 'Accelerated Learning'. My students certainly benefited from that.
Gil W2/G3LBS
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by N6AJR on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Well I hate to be a Party Pooper, but Having Alzheimer's is not all bad.

With a bad memory, you don't remember how bad off you are, and how much you have lost. So if you only have the here and now, and at the moment, your tummy is full and your drawers are empty, you are happy.

It's not all bad.
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by G0GQK on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
The brain is like everything else in your body, if you don't us it, you lose it. As you wrote after a few days of using your brain you became sharper. A good example of dead brains are the poor souls who have to go to retirement homes or nursing homes. They sit all day doing nothing or staring at a TV. Contrary to popular belief this brain activity doesn't discourage Altzeimer's disease, its in your genes.

G0GQK
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KA4KOE on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
No. I am a 35+ wpm CW op, and I'm forgetful as hell....

I am 45 years old.

Where are my glasses?

PAN
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by K8YZK on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I have to agree with Bill (MEA), a nice ragchew CW contact at 13-15wpm is nice for me.

As far as CW being good brain food, (my mom died from the dread "A", which is the new pop word), everything I have read says that keeping someone active both physically and mentally will help them out. I also have to believe that it is also genetics that has something to do with it, as my grandmother also had the "A". My mom use to do the NY Post crossword puzzle each Sunday, knitted, active in senior groups etc, so she was active, but how much activity the brain requires, well I guess that is still us in the air.
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by PLANKEYE on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Neat article Dennis!!

I think the title would have been cool as, IS CW GOOD BRAIN FOOD!!

I liked the article and know CW makes you THINK.

If CW helps folks in Brain Function long term or short, that is awesome.

At least your article made ALL OF US THINK ABOUT IT!!

Nice Article Dennis!!

Thank you!



PLANKEYE






 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KG4ZVA on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"Can the brain be exercised by the act of sending and receiving CW to the point that Alzheimer's or any other brain deterioration is stopped or delayed?"

The CW has nothing to do with it. It sounds like all you did was get back into the practice of using it. ANY exercise, be it mental or physical, is benificial to the body as well as the brain. If you want to believe your brain is in better shape just because you use one mode of transmission on a radio then more power to you. But the cw is great for this, for that and everything else under the sun IS getting really old.

The LAST thing we need is another "long term study" paid for by our tax dollars.
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by W4VR on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"Is ham radio good brain food?"

Communicating with someone, whether it be on CW or SSB, is good for the brain. Watching TV probably isn't, and I think that has been proven. How often do you see kids playing outside these days?..they're inside watching TV or playing games on their computers. Does that mean we will see more people with Alzheimer's in the future?...I hope not. My 92 year old mother is in a nursing home as I write this...she's had Alzheimer's for about 7 years. One of her brothers also had it and died of related causes. Some say it skips a generation...and I hope it does in my case. My mother was a very active person up until the age of 85 when AD started to reduce her ability to communicate. No doubt Alzheimer's is heriditary, but I believe it can be delayed by keeping the brain active. Yes, Ham Radio is good brain food!
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by K9ZMD on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
It would be very helpful to know how many cw ops eventually developed Alzheimers disease. I used to know all of their names, but have recently forgotten them. Anyway, I guess it is time to brush up on my rusty, unhh, what was that stuff called again?
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by N5RTF on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
The existence of elderly CW operators is not proof of protection from Alzheimer's disease -- sampling error occurs because demented hams disappear unnoticed from the bands.

As a geriatric psychiatrist, I have treated hundreds of people with dementia, from all walks of life. The single most important factor I have observed in avoiding Alzheimer's disease is one's choice of parents. In fact, careful choice of parents can make a person rich, tall, good-looking, smart, and long-lived also!

N5RTF
 
The Universal Law is Always Correct  
by AI2IA on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Forget medicine. Forget research. Forget the experts.

The universal law holds true:

USE IT OR LOSE IT!

Gee, it's an amazing law! Why it applies to everything.

Don't be shy. Apply it to everything in your life. Hey, it works!
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by QRZDXR2 on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Add this to the list along with the sex habits of earthworms for the Feds to study......
Carl - W9PMZ
_______________________________________________

Really!!!

I have always been saying that cw actually does improve memory as well as dexterity. When one has to think, compose words and then send it by going from mental to physical movements correctly-- says to me that your using a lot of brain cells in the correct order.

The other side is the lip flappers who blindly babble on about ach's and pains which only seem to-- be using about 1/10 of the mental cap a normal person has. maybe that is all they have left to play with-- because they have not kept'ed up with mental exercises such as CW and other mentl task. I believe you can get atrophy mentally as well as physically when you don't do your exercises. Prolonged inactivity (as the elderly do) hith hypercortisolemia is represened by a lack of persistent catabolic stimulus. i.e exacerbates strength and lean muscle loss via a chronic reduction in muscle protein synthesis. Simalar, it can also be found in mental disorders with loss of memory,function and social control.

I am sure that the PHd's and others already know a active person generally has less mental and physical problems in life than the ones that fail to exert/strain and don't.

I agree that you are correct in your findings. Keep up the exercises and maintain what your abilities are to the end of a full life.

sex habits of a earth worm huh---- a example of a fine specimen---outstanding
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KB5ZXM on September 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I have to say yes, Research that learning any thing new <the operative word is new> alters brain chemistry and enhances plasticity . I am trying to learn code, and My granddaughter is doing her first grade home work at the same time. Doing both at once makes it more fun for both of Us. btw only one of my offspring cares about radio,< Rachel KE5OTM> she has a three yr old , my son not a bit, he has the seven yr old first grader.
I logged on tonight <morning> to look up Morse code study aids.
I have a friend locally who listens every am <0400 local> at the bottom end of 40 meters< chasing grey line> He is tom k8vzd, give him a shout
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by W9PMZ on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"Really!!!

I have always been saying that cw actually does improve memory as well as dexterity. When one has to think, compose words and then send it by going from mental to physical movements correctly-- says to me that your using a lot of brain cells in the correct order."

So, if you can learn a lanuguage, and type then you can avoid Alzheimers? For that matter, if you can learn a mental / physcial activity you can avoid Alzheimers?

Has anyone thought of the other side of the Alzheimers question? Could it be that with modern medicine more people are now living to experience Alzheimers; when previously they may have assumed room temperature?

This whole post is an observation for a specific activity for a specific circumstance to continue the justification for CW; e.g. the CW axe grinding debate.........

73,

Carl - W9PMZ
 
Crossword puzzles better  
by WB4M on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I've read several times that working crossword puzzles is one of the best brain exercises you can do. It will also dramatically increase your vocabulary.
I have no clue if crossword puzzles will delay the onset of Alzheimers or not, or just keep your brain sharp until it does. :)
 
RE: Crossword puzzles better  
by WB4TJH on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
No one can argue with the benefits of physical exercise, so why shouldn't mental exercise be beneficial, as well? It certainly can't hurt you. I have been checking into a CW net once in a while and am finding that it is rekindling my interest in CW. I always enjoyed CW qrp, but since the bands have been mostly dead, that got a bit frustrating and I went a long time without operating CW. CW is a skill which nowadays is found almost exclusively among hams,(some hams, that is), and I think keeping my CW skill level up is important; the better you get at it, the more fun it becomes. It's also a good way to have a conversation without a lot of nosey people listening in. I think CW is a good way to keep the mind sharp.Besides, it's just plain fun.
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by ARRLBOOSTER on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I don't really remember what I was going to say here..Ummm, I forgot cw so I mostly drool at this microphone, but I am old. I forgot my call letters but am sure I am still licensed as a , ummm, something...
 
Which is which?  
by KA4KOE on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I connect RED to the minus terminal, and black to the plus terminal, right? Then why aren't the two slots in the wall with the little round one below labeled like that?

I can't remember to save my life....

 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KA9KQH on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Slower speed ragchews are available. Check out SKCC at http://skccgroup.com no cost to join. Heck you don't even have to join to enjoy a ragchew on those frequencies.


73 de KA9KQH
 
RE: Which is which?  
by K4JSR on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Just go on a *WHICH* HUNT.

Or just go "Bi-POLARITY"!!

73 From K4JSR,
Third rocking chair from the extreme right at the
World Famous Forget-Me-Not Rest QTH and Old Phart Pharm.
 
RE: Which is which?  
by W9OY on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
If you are diagnosed with Alzheimers, you got it. CW will not prevent it. It is NOT "use it or loose it". Alzheimers is a disease process whereby brain cells die. I has nothing to do with how much thinking you do, or how hard you think or with stimulating your senses. It has everything to do with the internal derangement within the brain cell and between cells. The cause is unknown, and that means use "it or loose it" is not the cause, else wise the cause would be known. About 1.5% of Americans get this fatal disease.

I read a study once that used CW as a therapeutic modality with dementia and it had some positive effect on some symptoms but it did not cure anybody.

73 W9OY
 
RE: Which is which?  
by KW4JX on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Wouldn't it depend on the speed - to try to resonate it with the brain waves?
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KL7FH on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
NO, I use CW almost exclusively...what was the question again?
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by W9OY on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
If you could resonate the brain you would probably just induce a seizure. The brain works by dis-inhibition which means it is mostly turned off with only the right things turned on at any given time. If you dis-inhibit the whole mess you get a seizure. Resonating the brain would be more like having a parasitic in an amplifier. Some people prone to seizures can have them induced by something like a rapidly pulsing lights.

73 W9OY

 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KD5SFK on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Some others have already posted here about the fact that whether a person develops Alzheimer's has more to do with genetics than anything else.

That said, I have had the opportunity over the last year to observe and interact with a number of octa- and nonagenarians as I have cared for my 90-year-old grandfather. Every other week or so, I take him to coffee with a group of his friends who are all in the 85-90-year age group. Out of this group of elderly gentlemen, the ones who seem to be the youngest are the ones who engage in the most mental stimulation. The one who I thought had to be the youngest of the group (I could have sworn he wasn't a day over 80) actually turned out to be closer to 90. He stays up to date with computer technology and the Internet. He is an avid reader and also has been writing memoirs of his experiences as a WWII bomber pilot--and he's a good writer to boot. He tinkers with all sorts of gadgets and rides an electric bicycle all over town.

While this is just an anecdotal observation, I sure plan on keeping myself mentally stimulated as much as possible as I age, in hopes of staving off old age.
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by W4CNG on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
It's bi-polarity for me and Cal (K4JSR), since we both operate on the samw side of I-85 in the Atlanta GA. area.
I have several computers that copy CW 100%, but do not send it, since most who send it can't copy it.....
Good Luck
Steve W4CNG
 
RE: Which is which?  
by W4CNG on October 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Cal's problem is the Nurses at the "Home" will not let him lean to the Left or Right so he can FART!

So he has too much GAS to leave the Planet.

Steve W4CNG
 
RE: Which is which?  
by K4JSR on October 2, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Steve, ask Feeeeeee-lip about me not farting.
Better yet, I'll bring my world famous "Swamps of Savannah" ambience to the Lawrenceville Hamfest on November 2nd & 3rd.
Feeeeeee-lip, send me some more of those "Marsh Juice"
Pickled Eggs for ammunition. Not to mention "Eau de
Dead Electrical Dudes" Perfume.

Feeeee-lip once asked me why I go to so much effort to
be very ripe for hamfests. The answer is simple: So
those hams who don't see me can still enjoy my presence! (Steve, you know who I am referring to!)

Toodles, troops! Cal K4JSR
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KB5ZXM on October 3, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
If Alzheimer s can be delayed by 10 yrs,in most of the cases, the affected person would be dead when they get it. There"s is a PBS Documentary Called "The Forgetting " that you can dwnload, or get from county library.
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by N4ZAW on October 3, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I like your theory, as it seems the logical one. However, let's look at this puppy from a dislecsic op's point of view;
I've been a ham for quite a few years, but could never SPELL as quickly as most >13WPM CW QSO's I tried to copy on the air, much less, SEND that fast.
I'm not saying I am "handicapped", tho, some might think so. I like to make the assertion that I excell in other areas of the hobby. But as to the theory of CW curbing senility, I just submit that it is the active mind that excersises the mind -- thus keeping it from atrophy. I'm actually AGREEING with you, but do not limit the "Purina brain chow" soley to CW.
73 es hope to QSO with you at 20WPM someday too.... Of course, I gotta get there first.

 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by KF5KWO on October 3, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I think that any activity that requires you to use your brain in a proactive manner is good for you, and the fact that it's CW or Echolink really doesn't matter. I also think that Alzheimer's strikes when and where it wants; it's not checking your "ticket" before descending upon thee. Can we stop with trying to find a reason to tout CW over every other transmission mode? :-)

73 de Jeff, KF5KWO
Helotes, TX
 
RE: Which is which?  
by KC8VI on October 3, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Good points... I think a number of studies have shown that mental and physical activity have positive effects on cognitive function as we age. However, only one thing has been proven in multiple studies to delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Tourette's Syndrome:

http://www.forces.org/evidence/hamilton/other/nicotine.htm

Smoke 'em if you got 'em! :-D

73

Nathan (now AB2ZU)
 
RE: Which is which?  
by W9OY on October 4, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Alzheimers is a form of dementia called presenile dementia. It hits people starting as early as 40. It is not the same disease as senile dementia, or multi-infarct dementia, or alcoholic dementia each of which represents different pathways to the same end point. The natural history of Alzheimers is different as well. Some of the dementias are not fatal. Alzheimers is fatal. There is something to be said about putting off getting dementia but it is from the other direction.

If you actually do the entire analysis on "preventative medicine" it turns out there is no cost savings. The reason there is no cost savings is because if you get past dying from heart disease through prevention or dying from cancer through prevention you will wind up with a nation of demented old people. So when the social engineers take off after diabetes or one of the other things that will take you out, what they are doing is assigning a number of you to die in a government funded nursing home drooling into a bucket desperately trying to remember CW.

As far as nicotine being a cure for Parkinsons. Parkinsons is a disease where there is a loss of receptors in a part of the brain called the amygdala. The receptors are sensitive to a neurotransmitter called Aco or acytlcholine. Aco receptors are classified as nicotinic or muscarinic because of how they behave when these two compounds are applied to them. Nicotine behaves like a neuro transmitter at some Aco receptors (the nicotinic ones) and as such is more of a treatment than a preventative. I say this because smoking is not good for you in any sense It is a poison, period case closed. I treat patients every day with years of slowly poisoning their bodies and I see and have to deal with the rot it causes in my practice every day.

That being said I am libertarian about smoking, you get to be an adult and make your choices, I just want to make it absolutely clear what the choice involves. There is absolutely no benefit to smoking, regardless of what stupid friggin article you read on the internet.

73 W9OY
 
RE: Which is which?  
by K4JSR on October 4, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
The only reason to smoke is if you are still too wet behind the ears to burn cleanly!

Folks like KA4KOE and W4CNG have caused me to become demented. Is demented a form of dementia?

73, Cal K4JSR
 
RE: Which is which?  
by AC7NA on October 5, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
All I can say is my 81 yr old dad with severe Alzheimer's can still copy CW as fast as he can write or type. He doesn't comprehend what he's copying, but if you hand him a pen and paper or sit him at a keyboard, he can copy comfortably at about 30WPM for quite a while...he was a morse intercept operator in the signal corps during his Army career.
 
RE: Which is which?  
by N4ZAW on October 5, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Now THAT is kewl! God bless him! :)
 
RE: Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by NV9X on October 5, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
WA8MEA,
As much as I hate to say this, a lot of those fast operators would be little lost puppies if you took their code readers and keyboards away. I guess they will get Alzheimers. I am with you. Cw does not have to be fast. There is no skill in a reader and keyboard.
NV9X...JIM
 
Is Ham Radio Good Brain Food?  
by ZL2AL on October 13, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Seven years ago I began a journey into the joys of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and chemotherapy. I had about a 50/50 chance of surviving it as it was fairly well advanced. Chemotherapy was the order of the day and I got into it in a big way. I was 64 then and have been a CW op for most of my 55 years of ham radio. At the time I was able to copy about 30-35WPM in my head and write it down at about 25WPM.

After the third dose of chemo, I noticed that my speed was decreasing and it had dropped about 5WPM in both categories. After the eighth treatment it had dropped by 10WPM in both categories and more errors were creeping in. After the 8th dose, my Oncologist suggested a very harsh stem cell transplant and subsequent hair raising intensive chemo dose during which I lost about 27kg in weight. At the end of it I was down to about 10WPM copy in my head but I could still write it down at about 5WPM with a high error rate. In effect, I was about the same as I was 55 years ago!

At each meeting with my Oncologist after the 8 months of toxic chemo, my man would ask "and how are you?" Aside from being very weak, I would give him the results of how I was coping with CW and we would both have a laugh. I stuck with the CW and got back on the air more regularly and my speed increased. A year later I was up to over 20WPM and about 3 years later I was almost as capable as I was before the chemotherapy "therapy" (How I hate that word therapy!) And now 7 years later, I am 71, fully recovered and can copy CW just about the same as I did before the cancer hit me. In fact, I am very active in the various contests as ZM2M and will be doing a DXpedition to ZL7 next March.

There are some questions in my mind and I really can't answer them. It is obvious that the chemotherapy really had an effect on my brain function. Would have my brain recovered as well without giving it brain food CW? Did it recover because I constantly used CW? Whatever the answers are, I am so thankful that amateur radio and CW played an important part in my recovery and will to live.

73, Lee ZL2AL - ZL7AA, ZL8RI, ZL9CI, ZM2M
 
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