Your Plastic Brain
With the airing of a new television series on the brain, I decided to repost my previous article on the plasticity of the brain.
The Brain With Dr. David Engleman is a fascinating series airing on PBS in the U.S. that helps explain who we are and why we do what we do.
This neuroscientist shows how brain research continues to give us answers, and also to show that our brains are constantly changing depending on how we live and how much we expose ourselves to new ideas and experiences. He shows how you really can affect your aging process.
The series airs on Wednesday evenings in my locale; check your local listing to see if and when you can catch the series. Meanwhile, check out the trailer.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I think that assumes it’s been while since the dog has learned anything.
Researchers have known for awhile that the brain is very plastic. It is always changing. It is always responding to stimuli.
The latest research was just released in the May 10th issue of the journal, Science.
Researchers put 40 genetically identical mice in an elaborate maze with many toys and lots of places to explore. They put other mice in a less complex environment with less to do.
After three months, scientists found that the mice who were exposed to more stimulation generated more brain neurons.
In addition, some of the mice explored more than others. These most adventurous mice generated even more neurons than those who lost interest. The more the mice explored, the more brain cells were produced in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for short and long-term memory and navigation.
This shows once again, how important it is to be adventurous, try new things, and put yourself in situations where you can learn.
When it comes to your brain, the old saying is true: USE IT OR LOSE IT!
Kollipara, P. (May 9, 2013). Exploration explores differences in identical twins. Science News. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/350316/description/Exploration_forges_differences_in_identical_twins
Hamilton, J. (May 9, 2013). How can identical twins turn out so different? NPR. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/05/09/182633402/how-can-identical-twins-turn-out-so-different
Royalty free image courtesy of: http://www.sxc.hu