No matter how long scientists study the brain they still donâ€™t totally understand it. What they do know is that the brain, like any muscle, does wither and die off if not used. The connections begin to shrink and that cuts off communication. When communication is cut off memories canâ€™t be formed and you lose your ability to learn.
By continuing to learn and use your brain, you form new connections and strengthen the ones that are already there. In that case, even if there is a slowing down as we age we can continue to strengthen our brain muscle – through exercise, so it can be as toned and flexible as a young brain.
For years scientists believed that our brain was made up of a number of regions, called lobes, and that each lobe operates independently for different functions:
- The Frontal Lobe was believed to control reasoning, motor skills, and language.
- The Temporal Lobe was thought to interpret sounds, hearing, and the formation of memory.
- The Parietal Lobe was for processing all of our senses
- The Occipital Lobe was associated with visual stimulation and interpretation of what you saw.
According to an article printed the Journal of Neuroscience (26 January 2011) science may just have been a little off base in their thinking. A study conducted by the University of New South Wales says the brain functions because of a complex network of nerves, and that no specific region of the brain limits functionality as previously thought. In their findings, an integrated grouping of peripheral nerves, the brain, and the spinal cord make up the â€œinformation-processing and control systemâ€ inside of a human body, and through this network the body is able to function best.Â
A group of 342 healthy older people, between the ages of 72-92, underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and a new imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). The neurologists were able to measure and observe the nerve connections of the brain through the use a mathematical technique called a â€œgraph theory.â€ The entire process is known as â€œbrain mapping.â€
Brain mapping allows researchers to observe the way the brain processes information, as well as how the body and brain communicate. The results from this and other related studies will help neuroscientists to come up with forms of treatment for both psychological and psychiatric disorders, including how we age. By being able to localize areas that are weakened, through the use of brain mapping, researchers hope to be able to get to the root of many degenerative and age-related mental and physical diseases.
Researchers have found that after the age of 40 the brain begins to slow down naturally. The slow down affects all areas of the body, including memory, use of energy and attention span. The body is also more susceptible to stress-related problems, depression, insomnia and lower sexual vitality â€“ along with a weakening immune system.Â
Through brain mapping scientists are able to measure the degrees at which the body is slowing down, and evaluate where problems can be found so they can be headed off or repaired. Eventually, they hope to come up with a program where they can retrain the nervous system in order to return a person to their full potential.
Research has also found that by stimulating the brain regularly, through the use of memory training techniques, puzzles and brain games, any loss and slow down that may occur in the brain can be held off while new brain cells are produced.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memoryÂ speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life.
The Anatomy of the Brain: http://psychology.about.com/od/biopsychology/ss/brainstructure_2.htm
Discrete Neuroanatomical Networks Are Associated with Specific Cognitive Abilities in Old Age : The Journal of Neuroscience, 26 January 2011, 31(4):1204–1212; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4085-10.201: http://www.jneurosci.org/search?fulltext=Discrete+Neuroanatomical+Networks+Are+Associated+with+Specific+Cognitive+Abilities+in+Old+Age.+Journal+of+Neuroscience+&submit=yes&x=5&y=11