Have you ever wondered if you can change your brain, even though you’re an adult?
Not too long ago, it was generally believed that once a human was fully developed, their brain remained fixed. This meant that we couldn’t grow new brain cells, nor could we change the structure of the brain.
But recent neuroscience has proven this wrong.
Coined as neuroplasticity, research has found that the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain change in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.
In this riveting TED talk, neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret explains how our brain produces 700 new neurons per day in the hippocampus.
While you might not think this is much, compared to the billions of neurons we have, by the time we turn 50, we will have exchanged the neurons we were born with in that structure with adult-born neurons.
According to Thuret, neurons are crucial for memory capacity and for the quality of those memories.
More interestingly, Thuret says that new research is showing a strong link between neurogenesis (the process of birth of neurons) and depression. In an animal model of depression, it has been found that there’s a lower level of neurogenesis.
And by giving anti-depressants, it increases the production of these newborn neurons and decrease the symptoms of depression, establishing a clear link between neurogenesis and depression.
More importantly, if you block neurogenesis, then you block the efficacy of the anti-depressant.
In short, there’s enough evidence to suggest that neurogenesis is the target of choice if we want to improve memory, mood and even prevent the decline associated with aging.
Of course, the question we’re all wondering is: Can we control neurogenesis? The answer is yes we can. Watch the TED talk below to find out how:
For those of you who were too lazy to watch the video, here are the answers to increasing neurogensis:
– Constantly learn new things
– Reduce Stress
– Have sex
– Get enough sleep
– Calorie restriction of 20-30 percent
– Intermittent fasting – spacing time between meals – will increase neurogenesis.
– Intake of flavanois, which are contained in dark chocolate and blueberries.
– Omega-3 fatty acids, present in fatty fish, like Salmon.
– A diet rich in saturated fat will have a negative impact on neurogenesis.
– Ethanol – intake of alcohol – will decrease neurogenesis.
– Resveratrol, contained in red wine, has been to shown to promote the survival of these new neurons.