Summary: Three factors have been identified to help keep your mind in good shape.
Your brain is amazing. Nearly 100 billion neurons work together to make you faster and more efficient in your thinking.
But just like the rest of your body, your brain may not be as powerful as you get a little older. Maybe you have to write things down, or you forget an appointment, or you can’t follow the conversation or action on TV without worrying.
Fortunately, it is also possible to exercise your brain.
“The keys to our nervous system are gray and white matter,” says Hermendur Sigmundsson, a professor in NTNU’s Department of Psychology.
In general, the gray matter consists of neurons – or neurons and dendrites, while the white matter provides connections between cells (myelinated axons) and contributes to the speed and distribution of signals.
Three factors contribute to good mental health
The latest article in the magazine Brain Sciences It brings together a lot of what we know from previous research on mental health. The researchers provided 101 references to articles in depth in their theoretical perspective paper.
“If you want to keep your brain in good shape, three things stand out,” says Sigmundsson.
These reasons are:
- Being social.
- Having strong interests. Learn new things and don’t shy away from new challenges.
This is probably the biggest challenge for many of us. If you sit too much on your hips, your body will become lazy. Unfortunately, the same is true for the brain.
“An active lifestyle helps to develop the central nervous system and prevent brain aging,” said Sigmundsson and his colleagues.
So it is important not to get stuck in your chair. This requires effort, and there is no way around it. If you have a sedentary job, go to school or get yourself physically active after work.
Some of us are happiest alone or with a few people, and “hell is other people we know” – to slightly paraphrase writer-philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. (Although his version is somewhat more involved) But in this regard, you have to iron yourself.
“Relationships with other people and interactions with them contribute to a number of complex biological factors that prevent the brain from slowing down,” says Sigmundsson.
Being with other people, such as through conversation or physical contact, supports optimal brain function.
This last point may have something to do with your personality, but if you’ve read this far, chances are good that you have the necessary foundation and are probably willing to learn.
“Love or a strong desire for something can be the driving force behind learning new things. Over time, this affects the development and maintenance of our neural networks, says Sigmundsson.
Be curious. Don’t give up and let everything go the same way. You’re never too old to do something you’ve never done before. Maybe it’s time to learn to play a new instrument.
Use it or lose it
Sigmundsson collaborated with master’s student Benjamin H. Dibendal and associate professor Simon Grassini at the University of Stavanger on the overall paper.
Their research provides a similar picture of the brain as the body. You need to exercise to keep your brain from rotting. As the saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
“Brain development is closely related to lifestyle. Exercise, relationships and love help develop and maintain the basic structures of our brains as we age,” says Sigmundsson.
These three factors provide some of the keys to maintaining a good quality of life – and hopefully a good old age.
So brain health research news
Preliminary study: Open Access.
“Movement, communication and emotion in brain physiology and cognitive aging” by Hermundur Sigmundsson et al. Brain Sciences
Movement, communication and emotion in brain physiology and cognitive aging
The aim of the present paper was to present the basic structures of the human brain, namely the gray and white matter, that are necessary to keep them intact.
A large body of evidence suggests that activity, connectivity, and emotion are key factors in the maintenance of neural activity in gray and white matter during aging.
An active lifestyle has been shown to contribute to the development of the central nervous system and reverse brain aging.
They demonstrated that interpersonal relationships and interactions contribute to complex biological factors that favor cognitive recovery.
In addition, the current scientific literature suggests that love, a strong desire, can be a factor that motivates individuals to learn new things, thereby influencing the development and maintenance of neural functional networks over time.
The current theoretical perspective paper aims to convey several key messages: (1) brain development is strongly influenced by lifestyle; (2) Physical training allows brain structures to develop and maintain during aging, and may be one of the key factors in quality of life as an adult. (3) different stimuli are key factors in maintaining brain structures; (4) Activity, relatedness, and emotion are key factors in comparing brain gray and white matter loss.