Boost Your Brain Power; EDITED BY SALLY MCLE; Cognitive Ability Can Falter with Age, Stress and Fatigue. Here Are Our Tips for Keeping the Grey Matter Is Great Shape

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), November 20, 2018 | Go to article overview

Boost Your Brain Power; EDITED BY SALLY MCLE; Cognitive Ability Can Falter with Age, Stress and Fatigue. Here Are Our Tips for Keeping the Grey Matter Is Great Shape


Byline: JANE SYMONS

HAS your brain power slipped into the slow lane? Is your memory stalling? Age, stress and tiredness can make anyone forgetful, but the latest science reveals there are ways to keep your mental Sat Nav on track.

Data travels around the brain like a car on a road network and keeping the volume of this mental traffic flowing is the key to staying sharp.

Professor Robert Pickard, emeritus professor of neurobiology at Cardiff University, said: "If you don't use your learning pathways regularly, your brain forgets the routes and they fall into disrepair.

"We lose around a third of our brain cells in our lifetime. Luckily, mental sharpness isn't down to numbers, it is all about synapses -- the junctions between cells."

Every time a "car" carrying a piece of data reaches one of these synapse roundabouts, data is transferred from an electrical signal to a chemical one, directed around the roundabout to the correct exit and then converted back to an electrical signal to continue its journey.

for the because opens new "When you start to learn something, you open a little lane on to that roundabout. And if you keep rehearsing the arrival and exit of a car, the brain responds by changing its circuitry," said Pickard. "The access road gets bigger and the system for chemical transmissions gets more efficient. What starts off as a lane turns into a four-lane highway."

However, if a learning pathway is not used regularly, the synapse breaks the link to the roundabout and forces the brain to explore side roads until it gets past that roundabout and back on its journey.

"That's why you often remember something hours later," he added.

Anything that affects our brain's neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that regulate these roundabouts, will lift memory and cognition, so these signposts will help you stay on track. So what can we do to help ourselves? PUZZLING It's said that doing crosswords and puzzles can boost brain power, but Pickard said that's a myth. He added: "You can get enjoyment rejuvenating brain it from doing them but puzzles have no effect on cognition because they are not relevant to your immediate needs and everyday life."

However, learning something new does make a difference. "Studying a language is rejuvenating for the brain because it opens up new junctions," he said

LIFESTYLE LIFT What's good for the heart is good for the head, so exercise and a healthy diet protect against cognitive decline. …

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