We have not observed yet in the universe something as complex as the human brain. The brain is composed of 100 billions neurons, each neuron having from a thousand to ten thousands connections allowing it to interact in an incredibly rich network. The more scientists learn about the nervous system, the more they become amazed by it. Recently magnetic imagery has permitted breakthroughs in understanding the brain. Here are 3 of them.
1. Neuroplasticity: the brain never stops learning and evolving
Up to 1990, the medical community thought that neurons stopped growing after childhood. Nowadays, we know that neurons keep on growing at adult age and even in old age. They grow in a zone called “Subependymal” then migrate to the cerebral tissue. As importantly, these new neurons grow dendrites to be able to make connections with other neurons (synapses).
What make dendrites grow?
Learning, thinking, taking action, stimulating the body, loving.
What make dendrites shrink and loose their ability to connect?
Aging, stress, pollution, some diseases, and mainly inaction. Neurons die much faster if they are not used.
2. Our brains are fully functional
You may have heard before that we use only a little percentage of our brain capacity. From a neurological point of view this is a misunderstanding. According to Professor Bernard Mazoyer, our brain functions at 100% of its capacity. But only 1% of it is cognitive function meaning we are aware of it. Thinking, speaking, making decisions, taking action use only 1% of the brain’s energy and resources. 99% of the brain’s function is non-conscious. It deals with regulating body functions, assessing the environment, and re-wiring the neural network.
Our unconscious brain is so efficient that it allows us to interpret the meaning a smile within 2 hundredth of a second. When a close person smiles, you will almost immediately know if her smile is rigid, tired, happy, pleased, condescending, diplomatic or dreamy.
3. Brains interact with each other
Neuropsychologists have observed that when two lovers kissed, the two brains will synchronize. The synchronization of the pre-frontal cortex has strong positive effects: Diminution of blood cortisol levels (cortisol is secreted with stress), and increased antibodies indicating a stronger immune system. Researchers have also observed similar effects when lovers looked in each others eyes. That was also true, but to a lesser extent, with family members, friends or even therapists. At the opposite, an argument between two people has negative effects on the cardiovascular health and it decreases immunity. If the arguments are too regular, the health damages become cumulative.
6 advise to keep your brain in its best shape.
Neurologist Muchael Mezernich, who spent his life helping people with neurological diseases, gives these following advise:
> Never stop learning, throughout your life, new things and activities.
- > Persevere when you learn something new as progress may be slow in the beginning.
- > Avoid noise pollution.
- > Be aware that medications can help, but only using your brain through exercises and learning can offer protection.
- > Know that hypertension, diabetes, and tabacco are enemies to neuroplasticity.
- > Love foods that rich in anti-oxidants (fruits, vegetables, fish), physical activity, calmness, kindness, laughter and empathy. they all favors neuroplasticity.
Source: Patrice Van Eersel, Nouvelles Cles, n. 76, April-May 2012.