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The key to keeping your brain healthy

To summarize: Three factors have been identified that help keep your brain in top shape.

resource: Beijing Normal University

Your brain is amazing. About 100 billion nerve cells work together to keep your mind sharp.

But just like the rest of your body, your brain may not be as active when you’re a little older. Maybe you find yourself having to write things down, or you forget an appointment, or you can’t quite follow the talk or action on TV without getting nervous.

Fortunately, it’s also possible to exercise your brain.

“The keys to our nervous system are gray and white matter,” said Hermundur Sigmundsson, a professor in NTNU’s Department of Psychology.

Roughly speaking, gray matter consists of nerve cells or neurons and dendrites, while white matter provides contacts between cells (myelinated axons) and contributes to the speed and distribution of signals.

Three factors contribute to good brain health

A recent article in the magazine brain science Brings together a lot of what we’ve learned from previous research in the field of brain health. The researchers went to great lengths to be thorough in their Theoretical Perspectives paper, with references to 101 articles on how our grey and white matter shape is maintained.

“If you want to keep your brain in top shape, three factors stand out,” Sigmundsen said.

These factors are:

  1. Physical exercise.
  2. social contact.
  3. have a strong interest. Learn new things and don’t shy away from new challenges.

1. Exercise

This may be the biggest challenge many of us face. If you sit for too long, your body becomes lazy. Unfortunately, so does the brain.

“An active lifestyle helps develop the central nervous system and combat brain aging,” Sigmundsson and his colleagues said.

So it’s important not to get stuck in your chair. It takes effort, and there is no way around it. If you have a sedentary job, go to school, or get work done, you need to activate yourself, including your body.

2. Relationship

Some of us are happiest alone or with just a few, and we know that “hell is other people” – if we copy the words of writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre a little loosely. (Though his version is undeniably more involved.) But in this regard, you have to toughen yourself up.

Fortunately, it’s also possible to exercise your brain.Image is in the public domain

“Relationships with other people, and interactions with them, contribute to a number of complex biological factors that prevent the brain from slowing down,” Sigmundsen said.

Being around other people, such as through conversation or physical contact, supports good brain function.

3. Passion

The last point may have something to do with your personality, but if you’ve read this far, chances are you already have the necessary foundations and may be willing to learn.

“Enthusiasm, or a strong interest in something, can be the decisive driver that guides us to learn new things. Over time, this affects the development and maintenance of our neural networks,” Sigmundsson said.

Stay curious. Don’t give up and keep everything running the same way. You’re never too old to do something you’ve never done. Maybe now is the time to learn to play a new instrument.

use it or lose it

Sigmundsson co-authored the comprehensive paper with Master’s student Benjamin H. Dybendal and Associate Professor Simone Grassini from the University of Stavanger.

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Thus, their research provides a similar picture for the brain and body. You have to exercise your brain lest it rot. “Use it or lose it”, as the saying goes.

“Brain development is closely related to lifestyle. Physical activity, relationships and passions help develop and maintain the basic structure of our brains as we age,” Sigmundsson said.

So these three factors provide some keys to maintaining a good quality of life and, hopefully, aging well.

About this Brain Health Research News

author: Steiner Brands Wright
resource: Beijing Normal University
touch: Steinar Brandslet – NTNU
picture: Image is in the public domain

Original research: Open access.
“Motion, Relationships and Passions in Brain Physiology and Cognitive Aging” by Hermundur Sigmundsson et al. brain science


Movement, Relationships, and Passions in Brain Physiology and Cognitive Aging

The purpose of this paper is to propose important factors that keep the basic structure of human brain function (i.e. gray and white matter) intact.

Several lines of evidence suggest that exercise, relationships, and passion are central factors that protect the nervous system in gray and white matter during aging.

An active lifestyle has been shown to contribute to the development of the central nervous system and to contrast brain aging.

Relationships and interactions have been shown to contribute to complex biological factors that contribute to cognitive resilience decline.

Furthermore, current scientific literature suggests that enthusiasm, intense interest may be the driving 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 heavily influenced by lifestyle; (2) physical activity can enable people to develop and maintain brain structure during aging, which may be a one of the keys to quality of life; (3) diverse stimuli are key factors in maintaining brain structure; (4) movement, relationships, and passions are key elements in contrasting gray and white matter loss.

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