The February,2004 edition of Popular Science magazine has a ten page article on developing your mental muscle – your brain. Common wisdom, until recently, held that the brain is pretty much finished developing rather early in life. Recent studies however, indicate that the hippocampus area of the brain, responsible for thought and memory, produces new cells throughout a person’s life. There is evidence that other areas of the brain also regenerate. Like any muscle, the only way to take full advantage of them is, “to use ’em, or lose ’em.”
Want to boost your brain? Here is what the different parts of the brain do:
- The pre-frontal cortex does the heavy stuff: planning, and the control and storage of working memory. It’s also responsible for your mood.
- Broca’s area gives language it’s syntax. Wernicke’s area gives words their meaning. It’s your intellectual core.
- The hippocampus processes information so it can be stored in memory.
- The inferior parietal region provides mathmatical, visual, and logical reasoning.
Activities that will boost your brain:
- Competitive Sports-researchers have shown that middle aged people who regularly engage in logic and memory games such as cards, bingo, and chess performed better on short-term memory, mathematical reasoning, and vocabulary tests. Stimulating environments increase the likelihood that new brain cells will survive.
- Brain Breaks-neurobiologists suggest getting up from your desk every hour for a change of scenery. Unfamiliar sensory stimulation increases the production of brain chemicals called neurotrophins which increase the size and complexity of dendrites, the part of a brain cell that receives and processes information.
- Making Music-it is well known that playing the piano, and other musical instruments, significantly improves your verbal memory, especially for school aged children. Older adults that play musical instruments have a reduced risk of dementia.
- Humor Helps-telling and listening to jokes exercises our cognitive abilities such as abstract reasoning, and manipulation of information in our memory.
- Sleep Well-while we sleep the brain repairs itself, including damage done by free radicals.
source: Popular Science
Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago. Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance. He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”