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Brain Gain

30
Sep
2013
 

By Christine Lovatt

It wasn't long ago that scientists believed the brain was like a machine, which had so many cells at birth and wore out over a lifetime, causing brain power to gradually dim.

Now they realise that the brain changes every time we learn something new. It can even grow new cells. But it's not the growth of new cells that is as important as the connections between the cells.

The neural pathways that connect our nerve cells work better when used often. Like a footpath that becomes overgrown with weeds when we don’t walk on it, we need to tread these paths often, otherwise they have a tendency to fade away.   

If our brains are given the right environment and care, they can change for the better. As we grow older, our brains need to be stimulated by a variety of mentally challenging activities.

Physical activity helps to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain and experiments have shown that we think better if we are physically active. We also have to keep our brains active.

Reading is good but if you imagine that reading is like taking in food, or fuel, you then have to expend energy or exercise to use that food. This is where crossword puzzles come in. The words you learn when reading are stored in your memory. When you read a clue, your brain must work to retrieve that word from your memory. 

Other activities that help are solving Sudoku, where you need to use logic. Learning new skills, such as a foreign language or how to play chess, stimulate the brain. Talking to people who challenge you to think can lead to greater mental alertness.

So if anyone accuses you of 'wasting time on your computer playing games or solving puzzles on YouPlay' - you can tell them you’re doing the best thing you could be doing for your health and wellbeing - exercising your brain. And you might suggest that they do the same!

Happy puzzling!

70 Responses to

Brain Gain

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said:
October 09, 2013 at 8:36 PM

Falcon8... sound pretty horrific. Glad you've come back from that. My mum had a minor stroke aged 75 and lost her peripheral vision.

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said:
October 09, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Aw, Stjohn, didn't the cosy campfire stir you??? Does me. Falcon, what a scary experience that must have been- thanks for sharing. Reassuring to know we can fight back from such things. They run in my family and loom scarily on my own horizon. You have eased my mind, somewhat.

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said:
October 10, 2013 at 8:43 AM

Jafa, re the cosy campfire, I plead the 5th amendment...

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said:
October 10, 2013 at 8:20 PM

Stjohn, What happened to your "halo"? Loks a bit like your hair (?) is on fire. Sorry.

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October 10, 2013 at 10:54 PM

you are right Christine. I agree.You play website helps to MAKE SHARPER OUR BRAIN.

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said:
October 11, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Tee, hee. Stjohn, you are a 'hot-head'... but I do love the misty mountains. I found the halo in the Avatar Store, under hats (?!?).

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said:
October 11, 2013 at 6:46 AM

Keight and Jafa, I was going for the grey stubble look..epic fail. Jafs, I checked the halo, thanks, but it sits on a thin pole emerging from the head. Not a good look.

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dingbell said:
October 11, 2013 at 11:41 AM

I have cut more than five minutes from my time taken to complete the giant crossword since I started but I think it's that I am used to the clues now not that I'm more cleverer. BTW the TV show last night about re-designing Todd Sampson's brain was fascinating.

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said:
October 11, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Dingbell...yes it was quite amazing. The juggling bit really got me.

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nan_j said:
October 11, 2013 at 4:15 PM

waiting to see this on iview