Work Out Your Brain!
by Jovaughn Lane, age 14
Humans are the only animals whose brains are
known to deteriorate. Many neuroscientists believe that by our late
twenties our brainpower begins to diminish and our pre-frontal cortex
begins to shrink. But there is hope: scientists say there are things
we can do to delay cognitive decline.
The normal brain has about a hundred billion
neurons, but can develop new neurons and create new pathways. New
neural networks are built when we encounter a new task. When we
perform that task again, the path is reinforced. The brain’s
ability to create new connections is called plasticity. Brain
exercises have been shown to renew the brain and stop it from
shrinking. But your daily crossword probably isn’t helping as much
as you think.
“Once someone has done hundreds or thousands
of crossword puzzles, the marginal benefit tends towards zero,
because it becomes just another routine activity”, said Alvaro
Fernandez, CEO of SharpBrains. “It doesn’t bring benefits other
than becoming a master at crossword puzzles.”
Fernandez advises people to engage in
unfamiliar tasks such as showering with your eyes closed or brushing
your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Tasks like these will revamp
your brain and get it moving. There are also websites to help
exercise your brain. Lumosity, Brain Games, and Jungle Games, are
examples of these types of websites. These exercises actually undo
cognitive aging by eleven years, on average, after only ten hours of
Although our brains decay over time, there are
ways to preserve them and keep them in good working shape.
The New Yorker]