Posted on November 27, 2013 at 6:00 am
by Ellen Peters
As we move through the seasons of our life, our brains perform some amazing feats: they become calmer, wiser, better able to make smart choices, and more appreciative of arts, culture and music. One thing they do not do, however, is grow younger.
Dr. Paul Nussbaum, author of Save Your Brain: 5 Things You Must Do to Keep Your Mind Young and Sharp, joins us in this two-part series to give us some tips about how we can keep our brain in the best possible health.
Dr. Nussbaum, why is it important to engage your brain?
The human brain is the single greatest system ever designed in the history of our universe. This wonder miracle that sits between your ears weighs but about 3 pounds, is composed of nearly 60% fat, and demands 25% of the blood from each heartbeat. It is the origin of your every thought, dream, movement, emotion, and personality. We have learned more about the human brain in the past twenty years then in the entire history of the world. It is from this study that we have recently discovered that the human brain has “plasticity” the ability for the brain to be shaped by environmental input across the lifespan.
Plasticity provides us a wonderful opportunity to shape our brains for health regardless of age. By engaging your brain in a “novel and complex” (think what is new and hard for you) environment on a daily basis you can literally shape your brain for health. The part of your brain cell known as a “dendrite” actually pulls information from the outside world into the cell and it is these dendrites that form branches for more cellular connectivity when the brain is engaged. Across your life, the more dendritic branches you grow the more your brain looks like a “jungle”. Technically, we refer to such growth as “brain resilience” and it is this resilience that serves as a type of natural defense against diseases of the brain. It is not a cure, but it can delay onset of neurodegenerative diseases. So get started today on some novel and complex activities.
For more information about Dr. Nussbaum and brain health, visit his website www.paulnussbaum.com