Get your brain fit

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Photo Credit: Avid Reader’s Musings

As I have explained in a previous post, we loose about 100 000 neurons per day. But this is not something to be really worried about, since the thing that really matters is the quality of their connections, not their number. As we know, the brain is plastic so we can create new connections and reinforce the existing ones.

In this post I will explain some brain exercises we can do to keep our brain fit.

 

Positive thinking

As explained in this nice article,

“When we complain, our brain releases stress hormones that harm neural connections”.

Try not to complain, try to have a positive thinking, try to stick to happy and positive people and avoid moaning and groaning people. This will not only reduce stress hormones but will also increase your levels of serotonin. Having a good mood is the best exercise you can offer to your brain.

 

Take a trip, explore and get out of your comfort area

Every single new experience will “wake up” your dormant neurons. Go to places you have never been before, try new experiences, break-up the routine. You do not need to go the the other side of the world, you can also visit new museums, go for a walk in new parks or just go spend a day in the country side. This will also make you breath fresh air, see new landscapes and have a healthy walk.

Getting out of your comfort area (i.e. less laying down in the sofa and more exploring) will with no doubt generate new challenges and new situations you have never had to face before. This will make your brain quite awake and active, and that indeed is the best medicine your brain needs.

 

Sport yourself and have a healthy life-style

Exercise will not only improve your heart, muscles, bones and immune system, it will also oxygenate your brain and release serotonin, so your mood will appreciate that! It has also been found that regular exercise increases blood flow, promote new cell formation in the brain and improve cognitive functions.

Besides exercise, it is also very good for your brain to sleep well. As explained in this previous post, we still do not know exactly why we need to sleep, but we do know for sure it is very important for your brain!

Finally, keep a healthy diet and avoid smoking and drinking, or at least be very moderated. Your brain will thank you.

 

Get a new hobby

From learning a new language, making crosswords and sudokus, or making a small session of mental fitness everyday will really improve your mental skills! There are even a lot of websites with plenty of brainteasers.

Any new input for your brain, any new challenge you undertake is very beneficial and engaging for your brain. Keep it fitted! And actually you can even have lots of fun doing so!

 

Meditate

The effects of mediation on your health and brain are impressive. This has been know for thousands of years, but only recently science has started to study the benefits of meditation.

Not only you will manage to reduce stress (and thus avoid releasing harmful stress hormones) but you will also be more happy, improve your memory and your sense of self. Ultimately you will physically alter your brain’s grey matter!

 

Neurofeedback

People go to the gym to get their muscles fit. We can also get our brain fit by performing Neurofeedback sessions.

The idea is to record EEG and display the results in a screen in real time. For instance, if we want to learn how to relax, we can modify a computer image (i.e. a beach) as a function of alpha. The more alpha (i.e. the more relaxed), then the image will turn into a cooler, calm and beautiful relaxing beach. If alpha is very low, then the image will turn into a dark beach with huge waves and high winds.

By performing this, and as our brain is plastic, we can actually learn how to relax. The possibilities os Neurofeedback are really very promising.

 

 

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Brain Stimulation

Finally,  new techniques of non invasive brain stimulation are being studied with very promising results such a cognitive enhancement.

Several companies are offering this type of technologies for different applications such as pain relief, post-stroke rehabilitation and now also for cognitive enhancement.

For instance at Coen Kadosh Lab, they “conduct research on the psychological and biological factors that shape learning and cognitive achievement, numerical cognition, synaesthesia, and time perception”.

Also in this paper we see how a tDCS session made participants able to solve the 9 dot problem. They could not solve the problem before!

So brain stimulation can really improve your brain fitness, and the good think of it is that you do not need to do anything at all, just wear a tDCS device for a little while even when you are zapping at your sofa. A perfect solution for lazy people.

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

 

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