Keep Your Brain Sharp




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Workout to Build the Neural Network

We all know that regular physical exercise helps keep the body active and in good health. Similarly, mental and neurological exercises can help our mind and nervous system to be functional and healthy for a longer period of time.

Any activity like meeting new people or playing games can keep your brain active and agile. Doing it is very easy and fun filled and you can do this sitting in your home!

In this article called “Keep Your Brain Sharp” 5 exercises to keep your brain and the neurons active have been described.

The Mechanism of Memory
Brain is a seven-pound mass of highly flexible and impressionable material. Each bit of our brains is composed of thousands of connections called synapses. These switches are biologically described as your nerve cells which form a network and exchange signals whenever we think. The more this network or synaptic connections get formed, the more you improve your capability to remember and think.
E.M.Forster, the renowned novelist had said “Only connect”. He was referring to the connections that get formed in our brain, which enhances our thinking capability. We form millions of such connections every week, but these weaken over time, due to which we begin to “forget” things.

Alzheimer’s is an ailment which has many effects on the victim. Perhaps, the cruelest is the loss of memory of a person. This is because the agents which travel between neurons, called neurotransmitters do not function because they get stuckin a protein called amyloid. The nerve cells deteriorate and over a period of time parts of a person’s memory become unusable. It is not known if this effect is permanent or reversible. But the issue we have to focus on is how to strengthen and sustain the synaptic network in our brains

Memory : A distributed network.
Do not be under the impression that our brain is compartmentalized into cabinets. Instead, it is large complex structure interwined together. We surely remember any funny incident that might have happened at a party. We would also recall the person’s face, the surroundings and all such minute details of that occasion. Our brain stores such information at number of locations. There is an analogy between brain and internet. Like the internet, our brain stores and retrieves information at various information sources and retrieves from the same.

1. Recollect a discussion
Try recollecting a discussion you had a day ago. Pay attention to how these memories are ingrained with other elements of the discussion like the place, the voice of person, his/her tone etc.

2. Apply.
One of the important factor for enhancing long term memory is social component. Try remembering some elements like person’s clothing, place where you had a discussion, the climate etc.

3. Add new activities to your life
a) Be flexible.
Visit a different store. Rearrange your furniture. Visit a park you have never gone.

b) Have conversation with new people.
Have a conversation with people you have never interacted with. Talk to people as varied in professions like may be librarian, sales clerk, waiter. You may know them by face, so add a name to their faces into your memory.

4. Make new friends.
The internet is the best place to do this.
The Crux:
Make it a point not to get stuck to a routine. Add variety into your life. Spice it up a little.

Lawrence Cahill, professor or neurobiology at the University of California, says, “A good intellectual diet, combined with physical exercise, is going to keep you sharper longer”.

How it happens? Duke University neurobiologist says that we enhance creation of the neuron networks by creating a rich environment all around us. This in turn boosts the formation of neurotrophins, which acts a a manure for the brains to invigorate itself.
An experiment conducted has proven this theory. This experiment was conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, where in researchers bred mice in a cage devoid of anything to do or play with. As the mice grew, they were transferred to a cage which had a lot of things filled to do. There were exercise wheels and habitrils and wood chips of various colors. It was observed that the mice’s brains actually grew and expanded physically so as to assimilate the new surroundings they had been exposed to.

5. Cultivate Habits
a) Undertake some new task
Undertake a task which involves physical effort. This will enhance your computational reserves in your brain. It could be sailing if you don’t know it. If it’s winter try out skiing. There are a host of activities you do not know and can learn it to enhance your brain power

b) Reading Habit
Books can be of great help. Try to read a genre which you have never read. If you are a fiction buff, pick a biography or history book. If you are non fiction fan, read some literature. It is in a way challenging your brain.

Caution:
Do anything, but watching TV.

Humor : Motion to Emotion
The movie “Patch Adams” did show people the benefit of humor, but it is still a debated topic. But one thing is very sure: humor will not cause or hurt anyone in any possible way.

Karyn Buxman, a Missouri nurse and member of the American Association of Therapeutic Humor has stated that laughter and humor helped increase the production of a hormone called catecholamine. This resulted in the subjects being more alert and having better memory. A fake laughter can also sometimes cause a genuine smile on many lips. It has been observed that irrespective of the laugh being fake or real, motions do get transferred to emotion.

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