Young brains, old brains. It will be a fact of age registry? Mmhh … not really. Excluding pathologies from what we say, we will see that the age of the brain is more a factor of training and use, rather than old age in the chronological sense of the term. Certainly the years weigh as on all the other organs, they reduce elasticity and functions, but in relative that box that we have on our neck has so much potential that it will not be certainly the more years to represent a problem. It is more like the couch at home, the television, the habits repeated endlessly, the laziness of doing something new every day, the lack of curiosity and the lack of passions that make us look a little more in there. Whenever we have a new experience, we physically create new connections (thousands) between neurons and it is in these circuits that information is built and stored, the experience of experience. The more we use these circuits, by repeating the information, the more dedicated neural pathways will be consolidated until the new behavior associated with the information becomes a habit.
How to keep the brain young
The consequence is that, for a principle of economy, the brain will tend to use these ways with precedence over others, because faster and faster the use of these patterns of thought and actions becomes so fast, automatic and unconscious to become a ‘habit. That’s how we learned to read and write as children; that’s how we learned to drive and ski or ride a bike. Every time, however, we have not “cultivated” that new information, for example a foreign language learned at school and then abandoned there, the circuits we had created to store that information and skills have been gradually weakening until ” dissolve “the bonds and therefore the structure itself has failed. It is not true that as we age the brain loses capacity for neuron depletion. It is true, on the other hand, that the brain, if not promptly trained, tends to lose elasticity and therefore performance. Being curious, always learning new things keeps the brain active and good.
But what are the main mechanisms for storing and maintaining information. A complex discourse that can be summarized for simplicity in two mechanisms: the repetition of information and behavior (that is why repeating several times a phone number at the end is memorized in the medium-long term) and the association with something emotionally engaging (that’s why the first kiss is never forgotten, or the birth of a child or a traumatic event like an accident). A further consequence is that the little and not used neuronal ways tend to “atrophy” until it disappears. From these considerations one understands why, if one wants to modify a behavior or a way of thinking, one must act by creating an alternative of thought or behavior so that from that moment on the attention is focused on that new scheme. In doing so, the new scheme of thought and behavior will become increasingly efficient and automatic and the old one will atrophy and eventually disappear.
Phenomenon of neuronal plasticity
The change has, therefore, in addition to a psychological explanation, a neurological reason: every time we learn something new literally “ignite” new areas of the brain and create new connections by modifying the brain, this is the phenomenon of neuronal plasticity . Studies of the last decade have shown that it is not true, as previously thought, that neurons tend to die without regenerating. Like other cells, neuronal cells also regenerate throughout life. So the decay of brain functions is not due to a lower number of neurons than other reasons.
Excluding cases of diseases, the main reason is that adults, unlike children, instead of being curious and looking for new experiences, looking at the world with wonder and attention to learn, try to do exactly the opposite. The adult created habits tries to live within them, trying to repeat the same movements, behaviors and patterns to infinity. This out of laziness, due to the economy of resources that are becoming scarce with age and for fear of novelty. Keeping oneself within the “known” also has this psychological aspect of “going on the safe side”, therefore of alleviating the anxiety of the unknown. And yet it is precisely in the novelty, in the change, in the new knowledge, in the new experiences, in the ability to keep the eyes fresh and the heart open to the wonder of every day that is kept young and vital Read more